Looking Ahead: How to Help U.S. Travel Planning
May 1, 2020
Perhaps now more than ever, Americans are dreaming of their next travel adventure. With tactful sensitivity and an emphasis on flexibility, your destination can help travelers start thinking ahead, and give them something to look forward to while sheltering in place.
What organizations do now will make a lasting impact on their future in terms of loyalty and growth. Have confidence in the fact that travel will bounce back, and keep your destination on minds and in hearts. While it’s understandable that paid marketing efforts may need to be kept to a minimum right now, a few relevant, thoughtful updates on your part can go a long way. With this in mind, below are some ideas you may want to implement now.
Promote a Fall/Winter Getaway
Those popular fall festivals, holiday celebrations, winter sports, and ski lodge stays in your area could be worth promoting much earlier this year. Think about your best fall and winter attractions, events, and seasonal lodging offers, and bring those to the forefront now. If you usually put out a fall and/or winter travel guide for your destination, consider providing it now for planning ahead efforts. There may also be rescheduled events, like weddings, that are being considered for a later date in the year (for gatherings, please refer to the latest guidelines provided by the CDC).
Travelers enjoy deals not just in terms of low cost but for overall value. Put together assorted package deals to help potential visitors choose your destination. Discounts on accommodations, dining, and attractions for both new and returning visitors can be promoted now for future travel. You may also want to highlight any free things to do in your area.
Try taking the measures to offer more flexibility with plan-ahead options. Travelers already appreciate minimal risk and low stress when booking trips, but at this time, it may be a key decision-making factor for whether or not to consider your destination. Allowing for special (temporary) considerations, such as changes to your policies regarding refunds, cancellations, and deposits, is both considerate and forward-thinking.
Try to ease worries that potential or returning visitors may have before they plan their trip. One way to do this is to have a current FAQ section on your site that lists questions and answers to some of the most relevant topics of today. Make it easy for visitors to find out what’s open, where to stay, and address any safety concerns. Include the date when the FAQs were last updated. It’s important to remain vigilant in providing accurate information. Also, be sure to have a contact email available as well, which is checked regularly.
Target Regional Visitors
With many travel restrictions in place, people may be looking closer to home for their next getaway. It’s reasonable to assume many travelers will forego flights in favor of driving to destinations this year. Consider efforts to target surrounding states within driving distance. A fairly low-cost example would be to run Facebook ads that target by interest and only show within your state and surrounding states. This way, targeted users are more likely to see your organic message in their feeds. Click here for more information on how to use this function on Facebook. You may also want to consider using only top-drive markets for your location.
Map it Out
It’s likely many of the first travelers to start planning a getaway will be interested in doing a road trip. Throughout the United States, there are a number of fantastic routes to explore – from scenic loops to river roads to historic interstates. Take a look at opportunities near your destination to include a stay along the way for visitors. You may even want to consider partnering up with nearby locations to help map out some road trip ideas. An actual online map within your site is also ideal for getting visitors to plan time in your destination.
Be a Bucket List Destination
Now is a time when people may be getting creative in where they go and what they do. If you’ve never quite seen your destination as a “bucket list” place, maybe it’s time to ask yourself why not! The United States is a melting pot of cultures from around the world. That European trip may be off the agenda for a while, so what does your location offer that can provide cultural experiences unique to your location? Many destinations show off villages and areas of town with strong heritage and communities – where visitors can try unique traditions, foods, art, and more from other countries.
A time like this may require you to think a little more like a travel agent might, in that efforts to put together the legwork could help get you more interest and bookings. Design some trip ideas for visitors to check out before they book their getaway. Get creative and try grouping itineraries by activity level – relaxing, adventurous, solo, family, kids, empty nesters, etc. Not only do itineraries make planning easier for a visitor, but they can be great in highlighting some of the best things your destination has to offer.
Show Off Videos and Virtual Tours
A highly inspiring way to motivate future travel to your destination is with video. Get travelers excited by giving them a way to visualize an experience in your location. This doesn’t have to mean shooting a video from scratch – you can also take existing video assets and create a new edit, with current messaging. For great video examples, check out Visit Idaho’s goodwill video, and their wonderful page of virtual tours.
Boost Your SEO
Make sure your Search Engine Optimization is up-to-date. Are your meta descriptions and keywords relevant for current web searches? Review our blog post on SEO for more tips on protecting your current SEO status, which is especially vital if you’ve had to cut marketing efforts down significantly.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions or need assistance implementing any of these ideas.