Changes in technology and audiences create vast opportunities for destination marketers

The travel and tourism industry contributes mightily to the global economy—more than 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016. While that number continues to grow, changes around the world ensure that destinations can’t sit back and expect that increased growth to turn into revenue. Competition is stiff. Destinations are becoming savvy about attracting and connecting with visitors. At the same time, different generations and audience segments are changing how they want to communicate and their expectations when they arrive.

To stay up to date, here are seven things that destination marketers and DMOs should consider in preparation for the upcoming year.

  1. Audience ExperienceWhere do you connect best with your audience. Is it social? Is it mobile? While everyone is excited about the opportunities on mobile, the reality for many groups is that they love and trust … wait for it … their desktop computer. And by a large percentage. Does that mean ignore mobile? Hardly. Meet them where they are today and be ready to go wherever they are tomorrow.
  2. User-Generated ContentAlmost half of all U.S. travelers are inspired and influenced by travel pictures that are posted by their friends. In fact, they trust their friends more than travel experts. That means one of your best marketing opportunities is right in front of you: your current visitors. That’s why it’s important to have a plan for user-generated content.
  3. Influencer MarketingAccording to a study by RhythmOne, “destination and tourism brands’ earned media value is $12.50 for every $1 spent” on influencer marketing. How do you do it well and achieve a similar return on your investment? The key is to define success upfront, then create a strategy and plan of action. We’ve identified five KPIs to help anyone get off on the right foot.
  4. Bleisure TravelThe combining of business travel with leisure and vacation time is growing rapidly, already at 43 percent of all business trips. The number could be even higher as Millennials, who already take the most business trips at an average of 7.7 trips annually, and younger generations enter the workforce and assume traveling as part of their job responsibilities.
  5. VideoVideos about destinations are among the more popular, with interest in travel-related videos up about 60 percent in the last couple of years according to one source. It’s easy to see why. Video brings visitors to your place from the perspective of the recorder and deliver a sense of what it might like to be there. Best of all, with some creativity there’s a way to produce something for every budget and audience.
  6. Augmented Reality (AR)AR technology overlays graphics or text on images seen through a mobile device, most commonly a smartphone. Where AR really shines is when the visitors are on site, turning an ordinary walk into an immersive experience. From providing general information to interacting with the environment, AR can add layers of interest and a host of benefits for the marketer and the traveler.
  7. Virtual Reality (VR)VR brings visual sensation to potential travelers no matter where they are, creating the effect of being at a different location through either 360-degree video or an artificial computer-generated environment. The applications for destinations are just now being explored and are essentially unlimited. From demonstrating experiences to showcasing venues, destinations are seeing real value.

Check out our eBook on this leading topic, Marketing Trends—Seven Things Marketers Need to Know for more detailed information.

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