Here’s an important piece of news for leisure marketers – over 55% of consumers (WNBC Survey) say they will take several shorter weekend getaways instead of the traditional vacation retreat.
So what happened to that opulent weeklong getaway, several times a year, far away from the trials and tribulations of everyday life? Given the lasting effects of the economic downturn along with changing lifestyle needs, consumers have become more attracted to drive-to resort getaways which offer long weekend experiences. Whether it be the family with small children who need a “kid-friendly” place with adult amenities, or the boomers who are now indulging themselves in more practical ways.
So how is the lifestyle and resort industry turning this trend into opportunities for growth and expansion, and what brand marketing strategies should be considered?
Mixed-use Resorts – Appealing to the Masses
Mixed-use resort destinations are growing in popularity – with hotels, recreation, entertainment, sporting activities, golf courses, spas, convention centers, and large-scale attractions combining. Many developers are implementing a four-season strategy to capture year round revenues – designing resorts with flexible indoor/outdoor recreational spaces that appeal to all ages, all year-long. And, by offering broad appeal amenities these resorts have significantly influenced the concept of “togethering” – multi-generational family getaways that had seemed to dissipate over the years.
Some exceptional resorts adopting this four-season strategy include,Crystal Springs – a world-class destination nestled in the rolling farmlands of NJ, offering everything from outdoor adventure experiences, to top-rated golf courses and luxurious dining and spa experiences. And, Woodloch, a lakeside Pocono Mountain (Pennsylvania) resort that prides itself on the traditional warm hospitality it has nurtured for over fifty years; providing a retreat for families with endless activities and entertainment, thoroughly embracing the spirit of spending quality time together.
The Conundrum and the Solution
The mixed-use resort has created both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for the hospitality industry. How to implement a cost-effective, results oriented marketing strategy that appeals to every demographic and every interest? Knowing that a one-size-fits all marketing approach is not going to be of interest to all consumers, all the time, and can also be cost prohibitive.
By leveraging a strategy that augments traditional (paid) advertising channels with (owned and earned) content, digital and social, hospitality marketers can better connect with and engage audiences. And, with more than 76% of travel planned online, establishing a strong and steady presence is critical. Consider:
• Content – not an option, a requirement. The advantages of content marketing are numerous (and measurable) – with brands now acting as “publishers” to engage in meaningful ways with their audiences. Implementing tools to “pull” customers to brands – i.e. blogs, social media, newsletters, webinars, eBooks, photo-sharing, and videos, are no longer considerations, but requirements to stay competitive and top of mind.
• Social Media and Mobile – increase need for responsive and/or mobile websites. Social media and mobile will continue to merge. Mobile has allowed social media to truly become real time, enabling consumers to create updates from their phone, while tagging friends or checking in – what a great opportunity for resort guests to share their experiences. And, with Smartphones representing more than 50% of new mobile devices being purchased, providing multi-platform access will be essential. If you don’t have the budget to invest in a responsive site, consider a mobile (.m) version.
• Photo-Sharing – will begin to dominate. Establishing a strong presence on photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram provide powerful ways for hospitality brands to visually communicate their lifestyle messages. And, with Pinterests’ ongoing enhancements to the platform, hospitality marketers are presented with unique opportunities to curate, collect and highlight the very best.
• Marketing Videos – unrehearsed videos on the rise. Video is one of the most effective ways to engage web visitors. On a daily basis, more than 89 million people in the U.S. (ComScore) are viewing and sharing video online, including streaming video on mobile devices. Presenting videos in different ways (e.g. demos, reviews, special events and activities), will continue to influence decision-making, and including user-generated videos has added appeal since they are actual consumer experiences.
• Online Digital – establishing a strong, ongoing online presence. Over 90 million adults conduct travel searches online, so hospitality marketers need to be where these prospects are living. There’s no denying the marketing value of mixing owned, paid, and earned media, whether it be SEM, contextually relevant display advertising, or Facebook advertising.
The common thread for hospitality and leisure marketers is a plan that maximizes reach and relevance, in real-time, while minimizing cost. The key is implementing a plan that continually provides insight and utilizes that knowledge to refine and optimize on the go. With over half of all travelers seeking shorter weekend getaways, they’re primed for your invitation!