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Mission Control / Travel

Low-risk Travel: What This Means and Why It Matters

We look at factors dictating travel decisions for the rest of 2020, and how DMOs need to pivot to serve this first wave of travelers.

Low Risk Travel

By Katie Bridges

If yours is like most destination marketing organizations, the plans you carefully put in place at the beginning of 2020 are all but irrelevant now. Where you might have been creating marketing plans targeted at international travelers, meeting planners and families, you’re now navigating an uncertain situation that’s changing by the minute.

But as we’ve looked to past trends — and to what researchers have discovered as other markets have reopened — we’ve been able to nail down a few guiding principles DMOs can use to shift and reshape their efforts for the rest of 2020.

1. Travelers will be making last-minute decisions.

Travelers will be putting two specific concerns top of mind: First, that the destination they choose has something to offer them given the current state of affairs. Second, that if the destination doesn’t provide the experience they had hoped, the trip won’t break the bank. Essentially, they’ll be looking to destinations that they consider low-risk, both in terms of agenda and budget — and they’ll likely be doing so at the last minute, either as a result of lingering fears or of a “cooped up” feeling that could lead to impulsive getaways.

Essentially, travelers will be looking to destinations that they consider low-risk, both in terms of agenda and budget — and they’ll likely be doing so at the last minute.

What DMOs should be doing in 2020:

Tout your area’s low-risk attrac­tions, including outdoor areas that are always open. Create new content that takes the guesswork out of what’s available — a road-trip itinerary highlighting local parks, a roundup of picnic spots with the best views, hiking-trail guides, etc.

2. The youngest travelers will likely skew younger.

Everyone’s perception of risk is increasing, to say the least. But those who seem to have been less affected by the virus — younger travels, under the age of 30 — are relatively less risk-averse. These travelers generally prefer adventurous outings and are likely looking for budget-friendly options — especially now. It’s likely that these two characteristics will govern their travel choices.

What DMOs should be doing in 2020:

This generation is digitally savvy. Ensure that your marketing outreach efforts lead with a digital component, and be certain that all materials are mobile-ready.

3. Visitors will want assurances that their trips will be safe and flexible.

After months of instability and uncertainty, it’s obvious that travelers will enter future plans with trepidation. How will I know that the destination is truly safe to visit? What will I do if an outbreak occurs before my trip? More than ever, its essential to gauge travelers’ needs and stand ready to address their fears.

What DMOs should be doing in 2020

Reach out to your audience via survey to determine what is most important to them as they begin to plan their next trips. Are they concerned about crowd management? Accommodation cleanliness? Share this data with your local partners, being sure that all are united in a plan to shape and share cohesive messaging.

4. Many travelers will want to go to a familiar place.

With so much uncertainty, travelers will want to minimize risk and possible disappointment in visiting a new destination. Instead of novelty, nostalgia and experience will drive decision-making.

What DMOs should be doing in 2020

While your previous efforts might have tried to entice travelers who were farther afield, make sure that you’re focusing on drive-market visitors. Since these people might be repeat visitors, highlight places that might be a bit more off the beaten path, so that they know there’s always something new to discover in your destination.

Katie Bridges Overlay Blue
Katie Bridges Senior Editor

Katie has almost a decade of editorial experience, spending most of those years as an editor at regional magazines. A Georgetown University grad, she helps guide digital and print content programs from concept to completion for C/A clients such as Vanderbilt Health, Niagara Falls USA and Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation. She has written for Garden & Gun, Washingtonian and Arkansas Life, among others.

The mother of two young girls, Katie can most often be found on a hiking trail with her family (Sedona’s a favorite). She’s a Southerner through and through, and the only member of the C/A team who uses the word “y’all” with abandon.

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