It’s no secret that the last two years have been challenging devastating for the travel and tourism industry. But as 2022 opens the door, this resilient sector and would-be travelers are still hopeful that this will be the year for a full recovery. This year’s trajectory was promising until the Omicron wave forced a strategic retreat, but we continue to cross our fingers that waves will pass and the recovery will resume.
So how can the tourism industry expedite the next rebound, strategically use bruised budgets, and engage effectively in a highly competitive market? Let’s take a look at how some of our key tourism clients have innovated their way to successful new heights, review insights from KORE’s industry data, and give our top recommendations for sustainable success in uncertain times.
Prioritize Your Data & Lean into Evolutions in Tech
Marketing budgets weren’t the only thing that took a hit these past two years. Nearly every Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) and Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) was forced to cut staff in 2020. Now, lean and potentially overleveraged teams are trying to achieve increased revenue generation targets—a difficult combination.
In 2022, every dollar and every minute spent on building back business will be critical. It’s essential for teams to clearly understand who their target audiences are, what their travel motivations are, and how they engage with marketing material. Data is key not just for ensuring campaigns have impact, but also for smarter decision making and driving effective teams. An investment in engagement marketing technology that provides real-time reporting dashboards, centralized data, and consumer insights will help organizations send the right personalized message to the right person.
Focus on Trusted Revenue Generators, but Tell New Stories
Many cities and properties took the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate and add new amenities. Several expanded outdoor spaces and integrated health and sanitation protocols to boost visitor confidence. Optimizations like this help sustain tourism destinations on the path to recovery by providing safer options for pent-up travel demand. Highlighting outdoor activities, parks, natural monuments, restaurants with outdoor dining options, and even the availability of campervans can provide the little pushes necessary to give travelers the confidence to get on the road again.
As messaging evolves in creative new ways to build trust and interest, it’s crucial to use data to identify revenue drivers and then quickly capitalize on them. For example, our client the City of Denver utilized our Sponsorship Management & Engagement tool and discovered that for the past eight years, a substantial 41% of sponsorship revenue was attributable to signage alone. They also found that signage was only included in 68% of their sponsorship deals—a substantial majority, but still an opportunity for additional growth.
In an increasingly competitive industry where consumers have an endless number of destinations to choose from, tourism organizations need accurate reporting and data to back up their investments. Understanding which assets provide the most value gives organizations clarity on what type of messaging is working—and encourages proactive pivoting from what’s not.
*Asset charts sourced from our 2021 City of Denver Case Study. Click here to download the full case study.
Align Your Sponsorships with Evolving Travel Trends
CVBs and DMOs are in constant competition to attract visitors, and sponsorship has long been a key marketing tactic for accomplishing business goals. Sponsorships provide an effective way to drive awareness, reach target demographics, and instill local pride. But it’s not just the pandemic that is altering travel trends: workforce changes and climate awareness are factors as well. Sports tourism will continue to help drive the resurgence in travel, but there are new areas of growth to consider: ecotourism, health and wellness travel, and workcations.
Business travel remains far below past levels, but a new trend in extended travel stays has coined the term “workcation”. The pandemic forced many companies to adapt to remote work, and a lot of highly-paid employees don’t want to go back to their prior office-based routines. Instead of just making a long weekend getaway, some are choosing to spend an entire month working from a travel destination and making the most of their leisure time.
To capitalize on these trends, destinations are crafting new partnerships with organizations poised to serve this new age of travel. Sponsorships that resonate with both the current realities of travel and “outside the box” tourism ideas can help organizations break through the noise and bring travelers to their destinations.
Relentlessly Commit to Your Objectives
The only way to know if a marketing initiative is successful is to first know what it’s meant to accomplish. Revenue is always important, but there are plenty of other important objectives that can set your destination or organization apart. At KORE, we see hundreds of unique objectives our clients leverage as success metrics. Targets such as community engagement, employee wellness, and environmental impact have become more widespread—and more specific—than ever before.
This is part of a wider trend we’re seeing. Organizations are raising their standards for measuring partnerships: they want clear and tangible objectives that are specific and easy to report on. On both the buying and selling sides of sponsorship deals, partners are asking for more data to show an ROO—return on objectives. As the travel industry works to come back stronger, higher standards for investments in engagement marketing initiatives are a key tactic to set you apart from the competition.
KORE is the global leader in engagement marketing solutions, serving more than 200 professional teams and 850+ sports and entertainment properties worldwide, providing practical tools and services to harness customer data, facilitate sponsorship sales and activation, and create actionable insights.