As we leave the festivities of the holidays behind and dive into the new year, there is a lot of talk about hot new travel trends and what DMOs should be mindful of as they begin executing their marketing strategies for 2019. Notably, experiential travel is on the uptick, with travelers seeking out authentic, can’t-miss experiences in new places. And while some trends are relatively new, what we’re seeing is a continuation of travel habits that have grown in popularity over recent years. Here are five of the most notable trends that I feel will impact small to mid-sized markets in 2019.
1. Weekend Trips & Short Getaways
Over half of all travelers report that they plan to take more weekend and “mini-trips” in 2019. However, even though they may be shorter trips, travelers still expect authentic experiences that are personal, rewarding and tailored to their interests. Most notably, visitors are leaning towards unique types of accommodations (think AirBnBs) to get the most authentic travel experience, even on the shortest of stays.
What this means for your DMO: Have a plan to reach target markets that are within a three hour driving radius of your destination. Your primary research efforts will help you identify who these travelers are and what matters to them. Collaborate with your local stakeholders to plan events that appeal to these short-term travelers and will encourage overnight stays. You can read more about how to do that here.
2. Food Tourism
According to a recent Skift report, there has been a growing demand around culinary travel, and this trend is expected to continue through 2019 as more travelers plan their trips around food. Social media is largely responsible for driving this trend, as travelers today have the ability to share their edible adventures with friends and even strangers — particularly through Instagram. Long considered a niche market, Food Tourism is moving into the mainstream as more destinations recognize the benefit of curating culinary experiences to attract these travelers.
What this means for your DMO: Again, this is a great opportunity for you to partner with your local stakeholders — this time to craft unique itineraries that appeal to foodies, wine connoisseurs, craft beer enthusiasts, and the like. Tout your unique culinary offerings, and work with chefs, sommeliers and local breweries (if you have them) to create unique experiences to attract visitors (think flight nights, promoting local chefs or offering cooking classes). Read more about Food Tourism and how it can impact your destination here.
3. Bleisure Travel
In 2017 alone, over 60% of business trips were extended to include leisure time — a nearly 40% increase from the prior year. We’ve seen this trend steadily escalate in 2018 with no signs of slowing down. In fact, over 70% of travelers who combine business and leisure travel have reported that there are destinations they have visited or will visit in the future for business that they would like to extend for leisure travel.
What this means for your DMO: The top three most popular bleisure activities are sightseeing, dining and arts/culture — that gives your destination a lot to work with! When reaching out to meeting planners, consider offering them information about leisure activities that might interest meeting attendees — maybe even offer value packages or lodging discounts to attendees who extend their stay. To learn more about bleisure travel and how to leverage this trend, click here.
4. Families Want Adventure
Children play an influential role in family travel planning, with clear ideas about what constitutes an ideal trip. And families as a whole are starting to forego traditional beach vacations and Disney trips in favor of adventurous, off-the-beaten-path experiences. This preference for experiential travel over consumer-driven trips is beginning to have an impact on travel & tourism and is expected to play a dominant role in 2019.
What this means for your DMO: Consider how your marketing efforts accommodate the preferences of multi-generational family travelers, and put together family-friendly itineraries that appeal to this desire for adventure. Remember: adults are no longer the only decision-makers when it comes to planning a trip. Think about how the language and imagery on your website and in your marketing collateral appeals to adventure-seeking families. To read more about multi-generational travel, click here.
5. Instagram is Taking Center Stage
It’s no secret that Instagram can be a destination’s best friend. This social platform continues to take the industry by storm, making “insta-tourism” an important marketing tool. Travelers are beginning to formulate entire trip plans based on photogenic spots captured on Instagram. When my husband and I were planning our trip to Italy, for example, we chose Cinque Terre as one of our must-see destinations based purely on what we had seen on Instagram. For people seeking out travel inspiration, this visual platform provides a more genuine “insiders look” at a destination than, say, a tourism brochure.
What this means for your DMO: I think it goes without saying that maintaining an active presence on Instagram is a must — but I’m saying it anyway for the DMOs in the back! People engage with Instagram 10 times more than with Facebook, making it an ideal place for your destination to feature its most attractive offerings. To elevate your brand, consider partnering with social influencers. There are entire Instagram accounts dedicated to travel and tourism that niche down to some of the targets discussed here like multi-generational travelers, bleisure travelers and more. Partnering with these influencers where possible is an exceedingly effective way to influence the travel plans of your target markets. In this 1 minute video you can (meet me and) learn more about curating Instagram influencers.
These five trends are set to influence travel and tourism in 2019. And whether your DMO manages a small or mid-sized destination, identifying the Target Markets in your Marketing Action Plan that you can leverage to promote these hot travel trends will help increase visits to your destination. Don’t have a Marketing Action Plan? Give us a call! We’d be happy to coach you through the process.