The DMO Download

A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.

Tennessee Takes the Road Less Traveled


News and Resources for the Tourism Professional

Check out the latest news and resources we compiled this week. Learn about establishing balance in outdoor recreation economies, the trends we’re seeing in summer travel, how some destinations are encouraging the road less traveled, and more. Keep reading!

Striking a Sustainable and Profitable Balance in Outdoor Economies

This report from the Daily Yonder discusses two programs in different states aimed at helping small towns strike a sustainable and profitable balance in developing their outdoor economies.

In North Carolina, outdoor recreation contributes significantly to the state’s economy, adding billions of dollars to the gross domestic product and supporting numerous jobs. The Creating Outdoor Recreation Economies (CORE) program aims to assist smaller rural communities in capitalizing on the economic potential of outdoor recreation. The program encourages communities to strategically utilize their existing assets, such as natural trails and rivers, to attract visitors and promote local businesses. Communities along the Roanoke River are planning to develop camping platforms, paddling routes, and other amenities to enhance the visitor experience and stimulate the local economy.

In Ouray, Colorado, the focus is on evaluating the impact of outdoor recreation on the town and addressing the challenges that come with increased tourism. The town experienced a surge in tourism during the pandemic, which raised concerns about overcrowding, environmental damage, and safety issues. To tackle these issues, the town launched the “Do Ouray Right” campaign, emphasizing responsible and respectful recreation. They also aim to establish a trail-ambassador program to provide assistance and guidance to visitors. Additionally, the article mentions the town’s efforts to promote year-round tourism and economic sustainability, as traditionally, many businesses closed during the off-season.

It’s important for DMOs to consider and nurture the balance of economic development through outdoor recreation with responsible practices, community engagement, and collaboration with various stakeholders.

Americans Are Spending More Time and Money on Summer Vacations

American travelers are taking longer trips and spending more money on summer vacations, this article from Travel Pulse reports. A poll created by Allianz Partners USA surveyed over 2,000 Americans and showed that the average number of nights away on vacation is at 4.5 days this year, compared to 4.3 nights in 2022. In addition, the poll revealed that nearly 25% of these getaways can be categorized as “micro-cations” where travelers will take a trip around 4 days long or less within a 100-mile radius from where they live. Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents reported that they will be spending at least one night away from home this summer and this group showed that they would be more likely to splurge, spending around $644 per night.

“A ‘micro-cation’ affords more opportunity to make a quick getaway and justify a splurge, and many Americans are planning multiple trips to soak in all summer has to offer from the mountains to the beaches and everywhere in between,” Daniel Durazo, director of external communications at Allianz Partners USA.

This is good news for rural DMOs, especially those who are close to metropolitan areas. Marketing to both locals and travelers in more populated areas could prove to be very fruitful this summer. Consider creating giveaway packages for a one- or two-night stay or even collaborating with stakeholders to offer unique experiences that will attract weekend warriors to your region. There are many opportunities to get creative with your marketing tactics and approaches to gain travelers attention and highlight some special events and businesses in your area.

Tennessee Group Urges Drivers to Exit Freeways and Use Back Roads

An initiative by the Tennessee Infrastructure Alliance (TIA) encourages drivers to use secondary roads instead of freeways in Tennessee. As part of the “100 Years of Road Funding” celebration, the TIA is promoting the use of scenic routes as an alternative to heavily congested highways. The organization encourages drivers to explore the state’s secondary roads, appreciate the scenic beauty, and share their experiences through oral histories and photographs.

Using scenic routes can help alleviate traffic congestion on already crowded roads, especially in areas experiencing population growth. The TIA believes that promoting the use of less-traveled scenic routes can also benefit small towns by attracting tourists and stimulating their local economies through recreational activities like hiking and cycling trails, as well as increased demand for local produce and restaurants.

However, some challenges associated with scenic routes, such as winding roads, steep inclines, unfamiliar drivers, adverse weather conditions, and safety are concerns that DMOs need to consider. To address these issues, the implementation of appropriate road safety measures, including signage, guardrails, visibility improvements, and enforcement of traffic regulations, is emphasized.

The TIA hopes that by encouraging drivers to utilize secondary roads, they can introduce a new habit that provides a less stressful and more scenic travel experience. The initiative aims to commemorate the 100 years of road funding in Tennessee and gather road creation stories from individuals who have contributed to the development of the state’s road infrastructure.

DMOs can learn several valuable lessons from this:

  1. Promote alternative routes and experiences: DMOs can encourage visitors to explore secondary roads and scenic routes as an alternative to heavily congested highways. By highlighting the beauty and unique experiences available on these routes, DMOs can attract travelers looking for a more leisurely and scenic journey.
  2. Emphasize economic benefits for small towns: DMOs can highlight the positive economic impact of using scenic routes on small towns and remote communities. By promoting local attractions, recreational activities, and businesses along these routes, DMOs can help stimulate tourism spending and support the local economy.
  3. Collect and share stories: The article mentions the TIA’s interest in collecting road creation stories. DMOs can follow a similar approach by collecting and sharing stories and experiences from travelers who have taken scenic routes. These stories can be used in marketing campaigns, social media content, and promotional materials to inspire others to explore secondary roads.
  4. Collaborate with transportation and infrastructure experts: DMOs can benefit from collaborating with transportation and infrastructure experts, like the University of Memphis professor mentioned in the article. By partnering with experts, DMOs can gain insights into traffic patterns, transportation economics, and safety considerations, allowing them to develop effective strategies and initiatives related to alternative routes.

Overall, DMOs can learn from the Tennessee initiative by promoting alternative routes, collaborating with local organizations, highlighting economic benefits, addressing safety concerns, collecting and sharing stories, and collaborating with transportation experts. By doing so, DMOs can enhance the visitor experience, promote sustainable tourism practices, and support local communities.

Your Authentic Brand Promise Needs a Dynamic Website

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, then 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 your 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. Learn more about how your website can reflect your destination’s brand here.

  • Paige Schamberg

    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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