I am of the opinion that highly informed decisions are made by objectively measuring the available facts. Simply put, I'm not a fan of "gut feelings" or hunches.

So, when I read the recent studies published by Destination Analysts and MMGY (The State of the American Traveler Study and Portrait of the American Travelers, respectively), my mind was reeling. Both studies supported the movement towards educating DMOs on the benefits of partner advertising on their leisure websites. As a result, I wanted to share some additional insights with you that I gained from these studies.

Leisure Travel Spend is Up 

First up, great news; 32% of Americans (and 33% of Millennials) are planning to increase their leisure travel spend over the next 12 months!

32% of Americans plan to increase leisure travel

So what can you do as a DMO right now that will help your members/partners and local businesses in front of these travelers? 

  • Establish great website content to engage travelers
  • Enable online advertising specifically for local businesses and members/partners

The end result will help you capture the additional leisure travel spend this year. 

After all, 30.1% of leisure travelers in general (29% of Millennials) use DMO websites to help them research destinations and plan their trips. Of those, 63% use the DMO site before they've decided upon their chosen destination for leisure travel, 47.4% use it after they've picked a destination, and 13.3% continue to use it in-market during their trip. That's a whole lot of opportunity for a local business if they can leverage advertising on the DMO website.

63% will visit your site before
Conversely, only 13.1% of travelers use DMO print publications to research and plan trips. That's less than the in-market usage of your DMO website alone. So, if your goal is to drive as many visitors to your area businesses as possible, only offering enhanced exposure opportunities in print is simply not as effective as offering it online, too.

Utilizing Both Online and Print Ads

Online ad spend is expected to double print by the end of next year. With your local businesses, and in particular lodging, shifting more of their marketing budget online and establishing significant ad spend with Google, TripAdvisor, Yelp and more... how are you getting your businesses to shift some of that online ad spend to you?

A common gut-feeling is that offering advertising on your website will kill your print advertising programs. However this is far from the truth. In a recent Simpleview study of 78 DMOs that offer both print and online advertising, it was factually concluded that DMO online advertising programs not only have little to no impact on print, but also in some cases help bolster the print efforts. 

The Value of Leisure Travel to Millennials 

Speaking of leisure travelers, how are Millennials projected to utilize leisure travel?

Well it turns out that travel is fundamental to Millenials, too, with 59% of respondents stating they prefer to make memories through travel over acquiring more material possessions. Millennials averaged 3.3 vacations in 2014 and plan to spend over $5K on vacations by the end of this year.

59% of millennials prefer memories over material possessions

Millennials are always connected, and of course want a social and mobile travel experience. 87% of millennial leisure travelers share their travel experience through social media (primarily Facebook as of time of publication). How else can you make your friends jealous of the cool places you go? 83% of them claim mobile devices make their lives easier and checking their mobile device is the first thing they do in the morning.

With many DMOs approaching or already past the "mobile moment", when over 50% of your website traffic is coming from mobile devices, a dedicated mobile site or preferably a responsive website is the obvious solution for your DMO's marketing strategy, but that is only part of the strategy. How are you leveraging mobile traffic to connect your businesses with more visitors? With so much travel planning occurring on destination websites via mobile devices, imagine the power of a mobile-friendly advertising presence on your site for your local businesses.

Help Members/Partners Leverage Your Audience 

The facts are in; Americans are going to spend more on leisure travel this year, and most are going to use your destination website to plan their trips and make spending decisions. What better audience is there for your area businesses to advertise to, what better medium for them to leverage than your website?

You can help your businesses get in front of these visitors and capture the growing leisure dollar through paid enhanced exposure opportunities on your website. You hold the key to your DMO online advertising program, and your area businesses are wishing you'd turn it.

Ready to take some next steps?

Resources

Destination Analysts, "The State of the American Traveler Study"
MMGY, "Global Portrait of the American Traveler"
eMarketer.com | comScoreDataMine.com