Reimagine Leisure Tourism Marketing in the COVID-19 Era

National Plan for Vacation Day (January 26, 2021) marks the annual day DMOs across the country can encourage travelers to plan their next trip and consider their destinations. This day is about consumers planning for future travel. DMOs should look to spark travelers’ imaginations by reimagining their leisure tourism marketing. This ensures their communities will be top of mind when people plan their next trip during the era of COVID-19. 

We all need something to look forward to this year. Right now, people are dreaming of their next vacation, looking forward to seeing friends and family, and thinking of their first trip once they are ready to travel. This is a prime opportunity for DMOs to guide their audience decision making and drive visitations to their destinations.

So, how can DMOs reimagine their marketing strategies during the pandemic while promoting National Plan for Vacation Day to compel leisure travelers to visit? Madden recommends these three ways DMOs can reimagine their leisure marketing strategies.

Target Remote Workers

Many people are no longer working in an office. Freed of the requirements of physically being in a specific location to work, people are now able to work remotely. Many are working from home while COVID-19 persists, but they also have the ability to work in destinations around the country.

DMOs should promote long-term rentals, incorporate messages encouraging the ability to work remotely from their destination, and target urban drive markets where remote workers are more prominent. Integrating tactics like these into your strategies will compel people to consider your destination as a place to stay for an extended period of time for both remote work and relaxation when they are off the clock.

Promote Outdoor Experiences

Our data analysis of traveler behavior during 2020 shows people are more likely to visit a destination to experience outdoor activities. Whether it’s because people feel safer outdoors or need a change after isolating in their homes, travelers want to get outside. 

DMOs should promote outdoor experiences in their leisure tourism marketing. Madden has helped partners adjust their strategies to create immersive storytelling to highlight outdoor activities and emphasize outdoor imagery in their creative asset libraries. Spotlighting a destination’s spacious outdoor activities will help compel visitations from visitors wanting to get outside and make people feel comfortable traveling to your destination.

Reflect the Real World

It is unclear how long we will be living in a COVID-19 dominated world. Destinations should make plans to integrate our current pandemic culture into their marketing strategy. While vaccines are beginning to be distributed, it’s likely that public health will remain on the top of people’s minds for an extended period of time. It’s important to keep marketing messages grounded in the real world to ensure they resonate with your audiences. 

DMOs should make sure their marketing reflects the real world. For example, some of our partners have done photo shoots with talent wearing masks so people can see themselves safely visiting their attractions, restaurants, and community. It doesn’t make sense to invest resources in storytelling or creative assets that create a dissonance between what you’re promoting and public health best practices. For example, it makes more sense to include tactics that promote activities that have a lower risk of spreading COVID or the best takeout restaurants rather than building campaigns around large events or activities that include crowds. 

While living with the pandemic has become our new status quo, destinations can still make the most of National Plan for Vacation Day. By leveraging the three recommendations mentioned above, DMOs can effectively promote their communities and compel people hesitant of traveling to consider planning a visit for the future. 

Read more about Madden Media’s COVID-19 resources for DMOs here.

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