This year, we have seen substantial shifts throughout the world. In 2021, people revisited everything from spending to working habits as they decided how to become a better, healthier version of themselves. We also saw consumers craving community and connectedness. They came together to support local businesses and check in on vulnerable family and friends. And as they became more confident in their safety, they sought out travel, events, and engagement — especially new and novel experiences.
The good news for tourism is travel is seen as both essential and healthy. Consumers are researching travel options like never before, as evidenced by growing organic visitation on destination marketing websites. We know the marketing landscape is constantly evolving, and it is why your team at Madden Media always stays two steps ahead, as we embrace emerging trends that will best benefit our partners.
Over the next two months, we will share our predictions for destination marketing in 2022, starting with this blog. We will dive into each of these predictions in-depth in the new year. Be sure to follow our Facebook and LinkedIn as well, where you can find additional insights and predictions from our Madden team.
1. Responsibility Matters More than Ever
Responsibility in destination marketing has never been as crucial as it is today. We are working in a more conscientious consumer environment. Privacy and consumer control will continue to dominate investments made by the major brands and news cycles. We predict there will also be a continued focus around diversity and inclusion, with consideration expanding beyond race and gender to include those with accessibility challenges.
Additionally, outdoor recreation is seeing the greatest YOY increase in interest in the history of its measurement. We predict there will be an increasing call for sustainable and regenerative tourism from residents and visitors alike. Using your marketing funnels and tools can help ensure your sustainability message is shared while welcoming and educating your future visitors on being good environmental stewards of your community.
2. Digital Tribes are Building the Creator Economy
Online communities and social influencers were a $13.8 billion industry in 2021. While the industry has long seen this group as a channel for marketing, they have quietly become the most powerful and trusted publishers and organizers. Whether it is social change, commerce, or the latest trends, their collective voices are leading us into a future that will be known as the “creator economy.” Attracting social influencers to your destination is no longer a transaction. We need to broaden how we think about engagement across all platforms and the evolution of metrics and engagement as social influencers provide higher-quality content. These creators will usher in the next evolution of the web.
3. Need for Destination Intelligence
We know the need to capture insights to learn, evolve, and advocate for destination marketers is essential to their overall success. Destination marketing organizations continue to make the evolutionary leap to destination management organizations. As they do so, our partners need data-driven tools to inform decision-making, measure impact, and fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities. Emerging from the pandemic, we know consumer behavior has changed, and you need the tools to uncover insights on new and future travelers. Understanding travelers’ patterns should inform your media and creative strategy.
4. Search Continues to Evolve
Search as we know it is gone, with voice, video, and visual searches now defining the landscape. Consumers seek greater sensory experiences in their search approach and expect both their results and their tactile interactions with websites to evolve. Future search performance will be a balance of showing your deep expertise surrounding your destination, referential authority through user engagement and trusted links, and technical performance and compliance. Look to create exceptional SEO-friendly content experiences that integrate text, images, video, gamification, and other interactive content. The content should be focused on your ideal audience and the experience they are seeking, not just on the facts of your destination.
5. Video is the Most Important Advertising Asset
There was nothing more important than video in 2021 — with more than a double-digit increase in hours watched by consumers across all platforms. The key to success with video in 2022 will be appealing to short attention spans. You want videos that are easy to consume, highly informative, and are as entertaining as possible. These videos will be vitally important in both organic and paid media efforts.
6. User Experience Above All
The user experience is important across all marketing landscapes. The best organizations focus strategies on fewer channels to do fewer things to better connect with their audiences. We think experiential marketing will make a big comeback in 2022, with audiences looking to participate in live, immersive experiences. This will come in many forms, whether physical, live-stream, or virtual—including VR/AR platforms. Destinations should balance in-destination and target market origin locations, especially if there is an opportunity to engage the creator economy.
7. It’s Your Brand
It’s essential you find your voice, where you want to choose to play, and how you want to win. All brands and destinations are unique and shaped differently by their individual goals. Be different, and your own kind of weird—do not try to look like everyone else.
Be different, and your own kind of weird
More Predictions to Come
Be sure to keep an eye out for future blogs as we further explore each of these key concepts and trends, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn where we will be sharing more insights from our team in the New Year.