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How Local Road Trip Destinations Are Encouraging Post-Pandemic Travel

April 15, 2021 Elisabeth Osmeloski

The U.S. Travel Association (USTA), which represents more than 350 destination marketing and tourism bureaus across the country, is supporting an accelerated travel recovery plan through a nationwide “Let’s Go There” campaign. Marketing support includes multi-channel paid and earned media activations.

Independently, local destination marketing organizations and visitor bureaus are focusing on differentiating their destinations to drive interest ahead of the busy summer season. Road trips, in particular, offer the opportunity for travelers of all types – solo, couples, families – to explore interests and satisfy wanderlust. Here’s a look at what a few top road trip destinations have rolled out to encourage travelers to hit the open road.

Arizona Leverages Social Media Channels To Encourage Visitors To Get Their Kicks on Route 66

Following the popularity of mid-pandemic road trips in 2020, the Grand Canyon State is declaring 2021 to be “Year of the Road Trip” in its new “Rediscover Arizona” campaign. Led by the Arizona Office of Tourism, the dedicated website section and related social media offer consumers detailed itineraries designed to entice travelers.

In addition to trip planning resources and helpful articles, the Arizona Office of Tourism releases a new YouTube video every month, each focusing on a different city or experience within the state. Promoting exploration of smaller, lesser known towns in addition to the iconic red rock canyons and natural landscapes, Visit Arizona’s official Instagram features road trip highlights including hikes and urban wine trails.  

Tennessee Distillers Promote Tasting Tours For Road Trippers 

The adult demographic has been indulging in “tasting tourism” with trips to craft breweries and distilleries popular across the country. The love of good food and drink, including “restaurant, grocery and drinking places,” drives as much as 25% of all traveler spending in the U.S., according to the USTA.

Tapping into this trend, the wine and spirits industry is busy creating their own localized tourism marketing efforts. For example, the Tennessee Distillers Guild created 10 trip itineraries across the state, showcasing the art of distilling in tasting rooms. Likewise, the Tennessee Whiskey Trail spotlights more than 25 distilleries across the state, supported by a digital trip planner, smartphone app and analog passport for visitors to record their visits and receive special user perks. 

Marketing Campaigns Show Family Fun Is No Small Potatoes in Idaho 

Launched just prior to the start of the global pandemic in 2020, Visit Idaho’s multi-channel #18Summers campaign reminded parents the window for family vacations closes quickly, with the tagline “You only have 18 summers to make the memories your kids will remember for a lifetime.” Once the pandemic hit, Visit Idaho quickly pivoted to release a series of videos focusing on safe travel and getting away from it all — in Idaho, where wide open spaces allow visitors to social distance naturally. The 30-second spot “See you soon in Idaho” garnered more than 4.5 million views on YouTube. 

Kicking off 2021, Visit Idaho leveraged its social media pages to launch a virtual scavenger hunt promoting its annual travel guide. Across three days in January, the tourism office dropped six clues on Facebook and Instagram. Answers were found throughout designated sections of the Visit Idaho website, which meant winning required a deep dive into Idaho tourism content. Since March, Visit Idaho launched its “Break Away” campaign to inspire adventure, focusing on breaking away from the monotony of the last year via video content related to camping, hiking and water excursions

Smart Targeting & Timely Messaging Matters When It Comes To Encouraging Post-Pandemic Traveling 

Travel advertising is likely to require more frequency this year than in years past, as consumers aren’t just deciding where to travel, but also deciding if they will travel.  Reassuring messaging continues to be important to consumers, and many Americans are ready for adventure. Understanding consumer mindset is always important. This year, as consumer attitudes regularly change due to pandemic-related concerns and exhaustion, messaging that taps into consumer emotions is likely to resonate. 

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About the Author

Elisabeth Osmeloski

With more than 20 years of expertise in digital marketing and technology media, Elisabeth Osmeloski is a freelance contributor to Digital Media Solutions (DMS), bringing insights on e-commerce, brand and content marketing trends within the food & beverage, sports & entertainment, CPG & retail, health & wellness, lifestyle and recreation industries. Elisabeth has a passion for loyalty customer programs as a user and as a marketer, leveraging data-driven consumer insights, delivering exceptional customer experiences and utilizing experiential marketing to bridge the gap between online and offline brand interactions.

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