The DMO Download

A weekly digest on economic development and cultural, heritage tourism news.

Discover the “Other Colorado” From Your Own Home

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Big Trends to Watch This Week

For many destinations, the busy season is on the horizon! Keep up with the latest trends with this week’s DMO Download. Read about how inflation is affecting travel decisions, why tourism needs to be more autism inclusive, a new app launched by Canyons & Plains in southeastern Colorado and more.

Inflation Is Leaving a Big Impact on the Travel Industry

Despite increasing gas prices, airline fares and other costs across the board, travelers are still eager to travel. However, experts predict that these rising costs will heavily impact traveler spending, meaning many travelers will be making more price-conscious decisions. As of March 2022, although there has been no discernible impact on booking rates or trip cancellations, travel industry workers need to be prepared for significant changes in traveler behavior.

While DMOs and CVBs should be aware of the dangers this trend presents, it also offers unique opportunities for them to make their destination stand out. The increase in traveling costs allows DMOs to resurrect the “getaway in your backyard” messaging to encourage residents and locals to enjoy your destination offerings. To attract out-of-town travelers, consider hosting giveaways featuring gas station gift cards or other coupons to relieve some financial strain. Not only are these appealing to your audience, but also shows them you understand their financial situation.

Why Tourism Needs to Move Towards Autism Inclusivity

With over 75,000,000 people diagnosed with autism in the U.S., there is a large number of individuals with unique needs when it comes to traveling. Since autism has a wide range of conditions, including challenges with socialization, behavior, speech and others, families with special needs persons can find it very difficult to find autism-friendly destinations when planning vacations. And, despite such a large number of individuals being diagnosed with this condition, the travel industry has not been very accommodating toward autistic travelers. In fact, almost 87% of families with autistic members don’t take family vacations at all.

Thankfully, there is hope on the horizon for autistic travelers. Travel companies are beginning to take steps towards a more inclusive environment, with amenities and even cruises creating special offerings for this group of travelers. From special activities to experiential accommodations, things are looking up in the travel industry. Read more about trends in this space here.

DMOs and CVBs need to think of ways to make their destinations friendlier to not just autistic travelers, but travelers with all kinds of special needs. With a huge number of families feeling excluded from traveling, DMOs and CVBs have the opportunity to reach a new audience by creating friendly and empathetic environments for this special group of travelers. Every family deserves a vacation, so make sure you can give all of your travelers space to sit back, relax and be themselves.

Explore Southeastern Colorado… Virtually!

Colorado is hopping on the technological trend by introducing an app called Explore. The group Canyons & Plains of Southeast Colorado received funding to launch the app and further its mission to preserve and promote the region’s natural and cultural resources. On the app, visitors can go on virtual adventures into significant heritage sites in the region, including Fishers Peak State Park, Ludlow and Sand Creek Massacre sites and sections of the Santa Fe Trail. Users can also access 360-degree views and lesson plans.

“Unlike the mountains, which can be overrun with visitors, we are not. We’re kind of like the undiscovered Colorado,” Rick Wallner, Board President of Canyons & Plains, said. He hopes that visitors will be inspired to visit the sites in person after their virtual adventure.

This is a great example of how rural destinations can use advancing technology to promote their region. By creating an accessible and interesting app, this DMO has the opportunity to spread awareness and attract visitors from across the country.

A Dynamic Website Is Key to Delivering on Your Unique Brand Promise

The first interaction your visitors have with your destination is often through your website, meaning that a comprehensive, updated website is vital in turning visitors into enthusiastic advocates for your brand. The key element in this process is trust. Before becoming brand advocates, they need to know they can trust your destination to deliver on that brand promise. This blog from our branding expert highlights what DMOs need to know in order to build a robust destination website that converts. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Create a first impression that accurately reflects your destination.
  • Make sure the information you share is truthful, timely and complete.
  • Share content that brings your website – and your destination – to life.
  • Don’t be afraid to address niche travel audiences.

By setting the right expectations, you’re setting visitors up for an amazing getaway at your destination. They’ll understand your community, traditions and residents, giving them the opportunity to have unforgettable experiences and allowing your stakeholders to feel accurately represented. To learn more about how your website can reflect your destination’s brand, watch our webinar “Does Your Website Establish or Break Trust with Travelers?” here.

Use Word-of-Mouth Content and Watch Your Marketing Efforts Soar

When it comes to planning a getaway, people want to know that they’re going to have a great experience before they book their trip. They might read reviews, look at pictures from travel influencers or talk to people who have visited the destination before. Visitors highly trust these word-of-mouth recommendations, so how can you use this to your advantage? Content Marketing Institute gives some advice on how you can implement these into your marketing strategy:

  • Feature user-generated content on your website and social media channels. Sharing other visitors’ experiences not only gives them 15 seconds of fame, but also shows potential visitors real people having real fun at your destination.
  • Engage in online conversations about your destination. Jump into the comments section on social media or reply to internet reviews. People want to see that you’re invested in their experiences!
  • Embed customer reviews into your storytelling. Find reviews of people who loved what your destination has to offer and build social media stories, videos or even blogs around their experiences. This is a great way to authentically show what your region has to offer potential travelers.

If you’re a destination, you can be sure that people are talking about you. Do your research! From sharing the good stories to replying to the bad ones, you can show your audience that you really care about them and give them a positive experience, even after (or before!) their visit.

Paige Fay
Content Production Manager at Bull Moose Marketing. A lover of literature and a sunshine enthusiast who probably drinks too much tea. Connect with me on LinkedIn @paigeschamberg

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