Our team has lots of great ideas - and we're willing to share
Last year we flagged a breakthrough study on the role and impact of destination websites in driving visitation and spending in destinations (Blog post: Destination Websites that Drive Travel). With the support and facilitation of DMA West and its Foundation, and conducted by Destination Analysts, Miles was the sole sponsor of the largest-ever multi-destination website study into what drives travel to destinations. Almost 380,000 website users were surveyed over this full-year study. Since an estimated 36% of U.S. leisure travelers access destination websites in their trip planning (State of the American Traveler, July 2017), this study has given us a far better understanding of an influential part of trip planning resources used by travelers.
The conversion research study concluded earlier this year and summarized results are now publicly available (see link at the bottom of this blog).
At our December “The Year in Review and Year Ahead” webinar, Phocuswright’s Douglas Quinby identified 10 key trends for destination and tourism marketers. Building on five of these key trends, Miles’ Chris Adams summarized specific examples, recommendations and resources for action for destination and tourism managers and marketers.
As you head into 2018, use these recommendations and resources as inspiration for your New Year’s marketing resolutions:
#1: Plan Content and Campaigns Around Hyper-Informed Travelers
During the webinar, Douglas highlighted how digital technologies and marketing is now at the center of travel. However, beyond this trend is the broader reality of an increasingly fragmented and complex media and travel planning environment. Visitors are consuming more media and accessing more sources of information that ever before – so much so
Miles team members recently attended some of the industry’s top events and brought back highlights on the topics and trends discussed. We wanted to share a few takeaways from these conferences that will likely play a role in the travel and tourism industry as we move into 2018.
Skift Global Forum
The “TED of travel” and one of the most creative business gatherings in the global travel industry, Skift’s Global Forum focuses on the future of the travel industry and the industry leaders creating and defining the way. Miles’ Vice President of New Business Development/Creative Director Elena Prostova attended and highlighted two key themes that drove conversation at the event and throughout the industry.
A State of Permanxiety: To discuss the current state of anxiety existing in the world today, the term “Permanxiety” was introduced and became a main focus at this year’s event. This state is caused by the constant concerns facing the world (such as terror attacks, natural disasters and culture wars) and is affecting destinations around the globe. We can’t
In general, we believe it is better for most destinations, hotels or activities to invest further in a robust, content-rich and fully responsive website that will work seamlessly across mobile devices, rather than investing in an additional, separate mobile app.
From our experience, the added complexity, cost and maintenance required to keep apps updated is usually not worth the small (and decreasing) benefits of an app over a leading-edge mobile web solution. Exceptions to this would be destinations or hotels/venues who have significant and recurring events or conferences where apps can offer specific benefits for attendees and be re-used for future events — or for destinations and businesses where mobile connectivity is a challenge and travelers may value accessing content offline in an app. There may be other use cases, but consider carefully these benefits against the cost of developing, maintaining and, most importantly, marketing an app to your travelers and guests.
Partnering with Major Travel Apps
For all destinations and businesses it is critical, however, to look at your presence on major apps
It is one of the USA’s most successful tourism marketing campaigns ever — winning awards, shattering visitation expectations and even making Michiganders who had moved away crave a return to their homeland. With clever copywriting, dreamy videography and Tim Allen’s soft, compelling voice, Pure Michigan’s television commercials are the epitome of marketing done right.
There are, however, some deep, dark secrets that haven’t come out yet.
The nationally run television commercials feature Michigan’s greatest natural assets: Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes national lakeshores; the urban revival in America’s Comeback City of Detroit; the magic of Mackinac Island; the bounty of history, culture and outdoor recreation across most of the mitten state’s 83 counties. But Michigan is full of the unexpected, too, and on my most recent trip I stumbled upon a very dark, and then a very deep, secret about Pure Michigan.
In this era of “fake news” (how is that even a thing?) it’s now more important than ever for destinations to ensure the information they’re sharing with potential visitors is as accurate as possible. Sure, businesses close and phone numbers change – consumers understand that. But nothing will damage your credibility faster than publishing “official” travel guides and websites riddled with untrustworthy information.
And we’re not talking about easy-to-spot problems like misspelled words or misplaced commas, but actual information that is flat-out wrong. You’d be surprised how often we see it, which is why content at Miles goes through a rigorous, independent fact-checking process even after it has been approved by our teams, our clients and all other parties involved.
How rigorous? Take this seemingly simple paragraph, for instance …
“Frenchy’s, located on Clearwater Beach, serves a grouper sandwich that’s been voted “Best of the Bay” by the area weekly, Creative Loafing. Order your sandwich fried, grilled or blackened (my personal favorite) and try to get a seat outside for a sunset view over the Gulf of Mexico.”
Last year, based on hearing from so many DMOs that organic search traffic to their websites was struggling year over year, Miles conducted a review of 26 destinations’ website traffic data. Though a limited sample size, the results indicated that there has been a downward trend in growth of organic website traffic since 2014.
Since then, we continue to hear a mix of success stories and concerns surrounding organic search traffic. Since we love a good mystery, we expanded last year’s review to include 36 destinations and added full data from 2016 and the first six months of 2017.
While I wish that the results provided an “ah-ha” moment to share with you – a clear trend or a solid answer – the data came out like this:
Wow, what a mess! An organic traffic roller coaster of sorts. Some sites
Complex. Fragmented. Comprehensive. These are just some of the adjectives that can be used to describe how travelers plan their trips in 2017. Here at Miles, we have coined the term “Hyper Informed” to describe the travel media landscape and the sources of information that travelers now access.
At Miles, we have been monitoring the media use and travel planning behaviors of travelers for more than 10 years with our research partner Destination Analysts. Their State of the American Traveler quarterly survey of U.S. leisure travelers has consistently tracked a rise in the range and complexity of media that travelers are accessing. This has a created a Hyper-Informed Traveler: More visitors are using more sources of information than ever before in the history of our industry.
Print usage by U.S. travelers remains at near record levels in 2017 (see our recent white paper, “The Value of Print”), but there has been a bewildering explosion in the types of digital media that travelers are accessing. Usage of all