The holidays are in the rear view but winter is here to stay. Some cold-climaters are pining for higher temperatures, sandy beaches and R&R. Some winter snow chasers are checking the forecast and quickly packing up their gear to hit the freshly powdered slopes with friends. Whether these travelers chase high temperatures, high adrenaline or both, destinations must stay on top of the current travel trends to stay relevant to tomorrow’s traveler. After all, many 2019 tourists aren’t tourists yet. They are looking, but may not be booking thus far. What do today’s travel marketers need to know to get these would-be visitors to pay them a visit? Here are five trends travel and tourism marketers need to consider in 2019.
1. More small town tourists
Whether it’s the desire for the unknown, the unseen or the thrill of discovery, more tourists are choosing to visit small towns. In 2018, searches relating to small-town travel increased by 276 percent. These small towns might not typically attract tourists—and that’s sort of the point. Forget gimmicky photo ops and the smell of heat press t-shirts on every corner. Bring on the mom and pop shops, quaint boutiques full of one-of-a-kind knick-knacks, chainless diners with home-cooked flavor and authentic experiences you can’t find in a big city. Perhaps this shift in small-town tourism development is due in part to adventure and in part to social media. After all, beach pictures all start to look the same after a while, right? The more socially-inclined millennial generation (ages 18-33) actually takes their social media content into consideration when they choose a vacation destination. Capturing moments while making memories is on the agenda of these less tourist-y tourists of tomorrow.
For towns that have previously felt excluded from travel itineraries, now is the time to shine. Emphasize what makes your town, your diner or your park different for that small-town appeal.
2. More trips taken last-minute
Whether it’s taken by choice thanks to a great travel deal or taken by necessity (no) thanks to a crazy work schedule, more travelers will plan and book their trips at the last minute in 2019. In 2018, 44 percent of travelers chose to book their trips last minute for a variety of reasons. We predict this number will increase in 2019. It’s important to remember many travelers have become their own travel agents, which allows them to book a trip at a moment’s notice.
Just like their trips, these last-minute travelers’ itineraries are also made on-the-fly. To appeal to a last-minute traveler, make sure to continue marketing your business to travelers in-market once they have reached their vacation destination. This is where many of their plans will be decided. In-market marketing can be done using targeted ads on social media or digital. Keep in mind, many last-minute travelers may only be performing these searches on mobile.
3. More solo travel
Alluring to the introverts, more travelers are choosing to ditch their travel companions and fly (or drive) solo. This could be for a variety of reasons ranging from the desire to disconnect to chasing one's roots. A trend within a trend, with the increase in DNA tests to trace one's lineage and roots, many travelers are seeking out more information and cultural experiences related to their ancestry, which can often be performed solo. In fact, 36 percent say their future travel itinerary will include at least one solo trip.
There are a few ways that businesses and destinations can draw in the solo traveler. Some restaurants are offering what’s called a communal table. These tables are a place for solo travelers to gather over food and drinks to discuss their travels, learn from one another and make new friends. These are especially popular for destinations near hiking, biking and winter sport heavy locations as these are common solo activities. The most important factor for a solo traveler is safety. Create an environment where solo travelers feel safe having new experiences alone, and you can become one of the best places to travel solo, too.
4. Increase in adventure travel
Some come for the rest and relaxation, but in 2019, many will come for adventure and new experiences. Piggybacking on the desire to see the unseen is doing the undone. Experiences on vacations can change a traveler's life, and these intrepid travelers will be seeking out new experiences and ways to learn new skills, from surfing to rock climbing. Over half of adventure travelers allege they are drawn to these experiences as a way to recharge from the busy, tiring day-to-day.
Keep these bucket listers in mind when creating your marketing materials. It’s no longer just about the relaxing beach scene but the surfboards crashing through waves, safari tours surrounded by wildlife and adrenaline rushing runs paved with only powder waiting to be explored.
5. Less is more with shorter trips
Short weekend, holiday and extended weekend trips will continue to increase in 2019. Last year, the 4th of July alone led 46.9 million Americans to take a trip. With airlines offering cheap flights (in exchange for less leg room) it’s easier for these travelers to justify the travel expense of a quick trip. Studies show that 53 percent of Americans plan to take at least one weekend getaway in 2019.
To earn your spot on these short-stay travelers’ lists, consider creating sample itineraries of the top things to do on a long weekend trip, top places to eat and must-see attractions this weekend. This could include partnering with other local businesses to create incentives, which could also save money by splitting the expense of the developed marketing materials.
Every destination has something to offer. What you might lack in beautiful beaches can be made up for in rich history, unparalleled adventure or one-of-a-kind experiences. As marketers, it’s our job to make it easier for more niche destinations to showcase what makes them special.
Adapting to the changing landscape of the travel and tourism industry isn’t always easy. Hoffman York is a full-service advertising and marketing communications agency with experience helping travel and tourism client succeed. HY provides clients with award-winning creative solutions, digital, paid media, earned and social media, as well as research and analytics. To learn more about how HY can help your brand succeed, contact us at ROI@hoffmanyork.com. Or, click here to view our past work.