The DMO Download
A weekly digest for those who market and manage destinations.
Visitors Discover Their Roots With Genealogy Tourism
We’re In Love With This Week’s Resources
Happy Valentine’s Day! We love travel, news, destinations, heritage, economic development and our favorites readers (that’s you!). <3 Think of this week’s news as our Valentine to you.
In this issue, we’re discussing Pinterest’s unique take on Black History Month, the latest travel data from Destination Analysts, genealogy travel and so much more. Take a look!
Pinterest Focuses on Travel Inspiration and Education for Black History Month
February is Black History Month which is the perfect opportunity to showcase your Black-owned businesses and cultural attractions. To help boost awareness during this important month, Pinterest is taking a unique approach by launching its “Find Your Routes Black Travel Hub” initiative. This initiative is inspired by “The Green Book” which was a guidebook for Black travelers during the Jim Crow era that highlighted accessible lodging and amenities.
This Pinterest board provides a range of travel options and inspiration from Black creators in the U.S., Brazil, Jamaica, Colombia and more. Showcasing travel tips, unique destinations, Black travel history, outfit inspo, Black-owned businesses and so much more, this board is a must for those who are interested in learning more about Black culture and history.
Pinterest’s celebration of Black History Month is certainly unique and opens up a new realm of possibilities for destinations who want to participate. If your region has significant Black history, travel creators, businesses or notable attractions, this is a fun, clever way to switch up your social media spotlight. Check out the full board here.
February’s State of the American Traveler
According to the latest data from Destination Analysts, Americans’ desire to travel is at a 3-year high, promising some good things for the industry. In fact, 41% of travelers who responded to the survey reported that their excitement is at a level 10 out of a scale of 1-10! More working travelers are devoting their time off to leisure activities and booking activity is up, promising a positive outlook for the spring season.
Economic concern also appears to be decreasing to a certain degree. While a recession seems to loom on the horizon, many Americans believe that they’ll be in a better financial position in a year from now and only 27% are reporting that the coming recession has caused them to cancel trip plans. Some other noteworthy (and interesting) trends include:
- 24% of American travelers say they have brought a pet along with them on at least one trip in the last year, with 44% saying they “usually” or “always” travel with their pet(s).
- 22% of American travelers are interested in psychedelic tourism–traveling to explore the use of drugs such as ayahuasca or psilocybin.
- 17% used a travel advisor or travel agent to plan one or more trips in the past year.
As usual, it’s important to keep an eye on these trends as you prepare for the spring season, especially for rural destinations where warm weather brings more travelers. If you’ve been concerned about recession gossip hindering your marketing efforts, take this data as proof that people will want to travel now more than ever.
Genealogy Tourism? Yes, It’s Real and It’s Popular
A fascinating article from a local Tennessee newspaper drew our attention this week by discussing genealogy tourism. The area has seen a large increase in heritage interest in their visitors, with several towns labeling themselves as “Roots” cities. These areas are seeing younger travelers coming to the area as they search for answers and experiences in their ancestral regions.
The trend has been increasing in popularity over the past several decades, inspired by a 1977 novel, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family.” The release of the novel sparked a huge wave of interest in genealogy that has only increased since the early 2000s. Thanks to at-home
DNA tests and the creation of genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com, visitors can learn more about where their ancestors grew up.
This is a unique travel niche to keep in mind, especially for rural heritage areas. This travel segment is a diverse one, covering young people, the older generation and all races and ethnicities. It also offers opportunities for strong partnerships with local historical societies to make archives and special collections more accessible to visitors.
The ‘Return-to-normal’ May Be Eroding Visitor Numbers to Rural Destinations
During the pandemic, rural destinations saw a massive increase in visitors as travelers with quarantine fever swarmed to sparsely populated areas for leisure. Now that nearly everything is open, international travel is back and cities are marketing for more visitors again, travel numbers in rural areas are dwindling, but not going away.
Some travelers are still looking for the authentic, intimate experience that rural destinations offer. Many destinations, such as Lake City, Colorado, are already booked for the summer season and are seeing more engagement with social media content.
“I noticed more on our social media interaction and the opening of our newsletters and traffic to our site that clearly I think there’s a little more interest in in our city,” Visit Vacaville President and CEO Melyssa Reeves said. Vacaville, California is seeing a large uptick of visitors from city folks in San Francisco and Sacramento who are looking to escape the city life.
This is encouraging for rural DMOs and heritage areas who may be seeing a decrease in visitors compared to pandemic and post-pandemic levels. The hunger for rural life is still strong for American travelers. Marketing the natural beauty and rural simplicity that your destination can offer could be just the ticket for seeing more out-of-town visitors in your area.
How Will You Manage Your Visitors’ Expectations This Season?
If there’s one thing we’ve learned this past year, it’s that communication is key to heritage tourism. As inflation is making a drastic impact on travel, it’s vital to make every effort possible to ensure your visitors are well-informed. Whether your businesses are moving locations or updating their hours, it’s important to make sure you’re also going through the right channels to communicate these changes with your visitors. Posting on your social media, sending monthly or quarterly newsletters, updating your website or even setting up SMS messaging for visitors to opt-in on can ensure you’re sharing the latest information with them regularly.
Visitors aren’t the only ones who need clear communication. You want to make sure your stakeholders and business partners also have all the information they need to provide their visitors with a great experience.
Your visitors and stakeholders don’t want to be surprised. By using all your communication tools to stay in touch, you’re making sure everyone has a memorable experience they want to share while building trust with the people that make your destination successful.