Attracting local tourists will be key for the rest of 2020 due to COVID-19-related travel restrictions in the United States (especially internationally). Some states require travelers to self-quarantine for 14 days when visiting. Others don’t. As a tour guiding business, it’s important to know your state’s guidelines.
Because of the varying travel restrictions, outdoor adventurists are driving to local destinations. According to MMGY Travel Intelligence, 67% of travelers will likely travel by car during the six months. This is twice the amount who plan to take airplanes in that same time frame. Further, one-third of the people who plan to drive to their destination are willing to go 300+ miles one-way. Also, one-fifth of those drivers are willing to travel 500+ miles.
This means that a “local” tourist can be a community resident or from a shouldering state. When they arrive at their destination, they’re likely to participate in outdoor recreational activities. In a survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association, 60% of Americans think outdoor recreation is safe. They also felt safest taking a road trip and doing non-team outdoor activities like hiking and biking.
It’s important to take into consideration the local market now more than ever because that’s what will be trending for the rest of the year. The tourism industry needs to be flexible as consumer behavior changes due to COVID-19.
Here are some ways to shift your focus to attract local tourists.
Update Your Digital Platforms for the ‘Staycation Era’
We’re embarking on the “staycation era.” Travelers are staying local or at most, going on a “weekend getaway.” They want to escape their homes that have turned into daycare facilities and office spaces. They are outdoor adventurers who want to explore something new within a few hundred miles of home.
Instead of marketing to international or out-of-state tourists, market to the locals. Help them rediscover what makes your city unique and exciting. Inspire them to escape their everyday lives within a few hours’ drive from home. Teach them that they can be a tourist in their own state and that adventure is outside their front door.
On your website and social media platforms, use words like “staycation” or “weekend getaway” so potential customers understand that this is the perfect outdoor escape.
Another tactic to use is sharing stories from local residents on your digital platforms. This helps generate a sense of community pride and demonstrates to consumers they don’t have to travel far to experience adventure.
Attract Local Tourists With Packages and Partnerships
During the slow season, some tour operators offer a local tourist package. It’s typically an activity discount for people who live in the area. This isn’t a usual “slow season” but these deals can attract new local customers looking for an outdoor adventure tour nearby.
Another idea is to partner with other local businesses to offer a unique package such as hotels, restaurants, breweries, etc. These companies are also looking for ways to engage with local tourists. Offering your outdoor adventure at a discounted rate for travelers who stay at a certain hotel could help bring in new customers. Also, you can offer discounted take-out through local restaurants or partner with a brewery for beer tasting.
The most important thing is to be creative and open to new opportunities. Working with other businesses not only assists your business during this tourism downturn, but it also creates a stronger community in the long run.
Build Brand Awareness on Social Media
When we could travel internationally, travelers weren’t looking up their nearby outdoor adventures. Instead, they were scrolling through Instagram for foreign destinations. They wanted to not only escape their everyday lives but also their state.
With the industry trends and insights we’re seeing, travelers are driving their personal cars to local spots or places as far as 500 miles away. They’re still inspired by their friends and family’s social media posts and they’re continually searching for travel destinations.
This is a great opportunity for your business to build your brand awareness on social media. The biggest factors are geotagging and hashtags. Geotagging is when you tag your photos with your location. This is helpful when people are exploring through different social media apps. Apps like Instagram let users search by location which means they can potentially find your company exploring pictures at a particular place. Alternatively, if you’re using targeted hashtags, a user can discover your account that way as well.
Also, start engaging with people who are geotagging a location near you. Leave comments on their posts. This could be asking them a question, giving them new information, or simply letting them know you like their photo.
Reach Out to Local Media Platforms
Adventure Travel News suggests reaching out to local journalists. Most who focused on overseas travel may be pivoting to local travel instead. It’s important to take into consideration your ideal clients. Think about what newspapers, magazines, and blogs they’re reading. Submit your inspirational stories to those publications because that’s where your customers are.
There are a multitude of ways to gain traction within your community and attract local tourists. It’s important for outdoor touring companies to take advantage of travelers driving to locations where they can recreate outside. Update your website and social media platforms to speak to those customers, engage with them on social media, and partner with local businesses and media platforms to reach a wider audience.