Staying up to date on tourism trends can help you learn a lot about how consumers think. What types of experiences pique their interest? How are they booking their plans? Where are they headed? All of these considerations are helpful in knowing how to appeal to your customer—even if your business caters to locals, not travelers. So whether you're promoting wine tasting tours, nature excursions, or guided city tours, here are five tourism trends you can't ignore.
1. Desire to Spend More on Experiences, Not Things
Experts at Cornell University have been studying the connection between money and happiness for decades. Their conclusion: people are happier when they spend money on experiences, not things. Capitalize on this by promoting the experiential benefits of your tours and activities. You offer once-in-a-lifetime experiences, so highlight this through testimonials from loyal customers, picking out reviews that describe the customer's unique experience and what they enjoyed most about it. Or, get creative. Literally compare apples to oranges by showing the consumer what they might be missing should they spend money elsewhere. For example, be clever with something like, "A week's worth of Starbucks would pay for this tour."
Another great way to entice customers: vivid photography. As in most aspects of life, emotions rule in purchasing decisions. And, imagery is a key to that. According to KISSmetrics, consumers will connect better to your company if you use imagery that shows emotion. Want them to feel happy and want to participate? Display photos of real people enjoying your service—be it smiling while hiking on your tour or clinking glasses on a brewery tour—and watch your conversions soar.
2. Affinity for Staycations
Local isn't just a fad in the food and craft beer scene—more and more people are now searching close to home for travel-related activities. In fact, AARP reports four in 10 Baby Boomers took a staycation in 2014, and anticipate taking at least one in 2015. Furthermore, recent Google Search Data trends reveal searches for 'staycation' were up 10 percent in 2014. To make sure you're showing up in these local searches, optimize your website. Include your area of operation in the keywords of each page. It also helps to link to any relevant local pages. Were you included in a local newspaper write up? Link to it on your page.
Read more about the rise of staycations here on our blog.
Speaking of which, local papers, magazines, and blogs are great ways to catch the eye of local consumers. Reach out to local press, inviting them to experience your tour or activity first-hand. An editorial can go a long way to gaining trust from local consumers. Other ways to garner local bookings: running a state resident special or offering a discount to local residents if they show a valid driver's license; running ads in the local newspaper's 'things to do' section; running radio ads during peak listening hours; or even a short television commercial on local TV stations.
3. The Need to Be Social
Results of a study from Amadeus North America reveals that the next generation of travelers are more adventurous and social. They're searching for experiences they can share with friends—so anything tour operators and merchants can do to make this process easier will help to better serve this market. Customers want to share their experience—so give them the tools to do so. Make it easy on yourself, and have the customers do the work for you. Create a hashtag—and send it out in confirmation and follow up emails—that customers can use after the experience to share photos or videos via social media. Or, run promote loyalty programs, as well as discounts for any referrals to entice customers to share with friends and family.
4. Increased Demand for Wellness Travel
Wellness tourism is a rapidly growing, $494 billion industry, according to the Well-Being Travel Symposium. But, wellness travel isn't just about spa getaways. It's about getting back to nature. According to a recent survey, 58 percent of respondents ranked outdoor activities as being most important for a wellness vacation. And, according to the IB Times, people booking wellness vacations are also looking for unique experiences—ones that will have them interacting with local cultures, educate them on local foods, or provide them some physical activity.
Activity and tour companies are in a unique position to tap into this growing segment. You already have what the consumers are looking for—outdoor activities that give them local flavor. Now, make yourself known to them. Reach out to the local tourism board to have your business listed on their website and in brochures. Get yourself on local concierges' radar so they can recommend your experience to guests. On your own site, highlight the aspects of your business that may appeal to this demographic. Post vivid images of the outdoor activities you provide. Do you offer outdoor bike tours? Post photos of smiling customers basking in the sunshine atop their bikes. Offering cooking classes? Be sure to mix in local cuisine, along with descriptions of local purveyors and farms you source ingredients from.
5. Rise of Mobile Bookings
About 27 percent of all digital travel transactions in the United States take place on a mobile device, according to data from Criteo. Whether you're selling tours, classes, or activities, customers want to be able to shop and secure their purchase with a few taps and screen swipes. Make use of this growing market of tech-savvy travelers with a mobile-friendly website and branded applications that make the research and booking process simple and efficient. Make sure your website—especially the checkout process—is mobile-friendly. Use mobile-optimized online booking software, such as ZOZI Advance, which makes it easy for customers to book directly through a merchant's website and complete the checkout process seamlessly.
From the increased demand of experiences over things to the rise of mobile bookings, trends in travel trickle down to tour and activity operators. The more local merchants pay attention to these trends, the better equipped they'll be to tap into many different segments of the market.