Away We Go

Whether it’s just down the road or on the other side of the globe, traveling is good for business. Savvy destination marketing, with the help of promotional products, can build strong and long-term customer loyalty for booking agents, tourism groups and ancillary businesses that benefit from vacationers and business travelers.

Tourism offices across the U.S. and in Canada are hip to the idea that promotional items can extend the experience for visitors to their neck of the woods. The Utah Office of Tourism recently increased its media spend and expanded domestic and international media reach in order to bring more visitors to the Beehive State. The result was an increase in state and national park attendance, as well as an increase in demand for branded merchandise.

Distributor American Solutions For Business (PPAI 101656) was chosen as the vendor for the state’s tourism office, and was tasked with developing and managing an online store, as well as providing custom branded merchandise, says Jeremy Horn, a senior sales associate with American Solutions For Business based in Herriman, Utah. (Read more about this project on Page 43.)

“Because of our partnership with the Utah Office of Tourism, tourists are now able to purchase official Utah products during their visit at local shops throughout the entire state,” says Horn.

Market Snapshot

The U.S. travel industry generated $2.3 billion in 2016, and $106.4 billion in tax revenue, according to the U.S. Travel Association. The travel industry also generated enough business to support 15.3 million jobs that year—one out of nine jobs in the U.S. depends on travel and tourism.

Business travel generated a healthy $307.2 billion in 2016, with $127.1 billion spent on business travel for meetings, events and incentive trips. For leisure trips, travelers most often hit the road to see relatives, but they also enjoyed shopping, visiting friends, dining out and participating in rural sightseeing.

Coming To America

International travelers spent a whopping $4,360 per trip when they visited the U.S. in 2016, staying an average of 18 nights. Overseas arrivals make up half of all international arrivals and account for 85.3 percent of international travel spending. International visitors spend the most time on shopping, sightseeing, and visiting national parks and monuments.

Professional Partners

  • Adventure Travel Trade Association
  • Destinations International
  • International Tourism Association of Professionals
  • International Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus
  • National Tour Association
  • Travel & Tourism Research Association
  • U.S. Travel Association

Travel Trends For 2018

Sustainable Travel
Eco-friendly tours are continuing to grow in popularity, while hotels, tour operators, airlines and cruises are beginning to market themselves to eco tourists. The United Nations World Tourism Organization’s guidelines for sustainable travel include:

  • making optimal use of environmental resources that constitute a key element in tourism development
  • respecting the socio-cultural authenticity of host communities
  • ensuring viable,
    long-term economic operations that provide socioeconomic benefits to all stakeholders.

Mixing Business And Pleasure
More travelers are making room in their schedules to enjoy tourist activities while traveling for business. A new term, “bleisure,” is being used to describe trips that begin as work-related travel and end with local sightseeing excursions.

In the U.S., 43 percent of trips are being described as bleisure trips, according to Expedia Media Solutions. Business trips lasting more than three days are 30 percent more likely to include some form of tourism activity, and trips that are taken to attend conferences or conventions are more likely to turn into bleisure trips than those made for client meetings or offsite team meetings.

Experience As A Souvenir
Travelers seek memorable experiences above all else, and direct marketing organizations (DMOs) find success when they focus on delivering experiences. Booking software company TrekkSoft reports that 56 percent of DMOs consider experiences to be a vital part of their marketing efforts, and successful DMOs rely on a digital, content-first strategy to build a travel brand with experiences as its core characteristic.

Getting In On The Ground Floor

Most travelers begin their journey online, and the better the experience, the more likely a tourism organization is to build a loyal customer base. A study last year from Google found that 69 percent of travelers are more loyal to a travel company that personalizes their experiences online and offline. 

Booking for tours and activities is supported primarily by small suppliers rather than large travel agencies, according to a study by Phocusright. In the study, these same suppliers named growing online sales as their No. 1 priority. Helping travel organizations market their online engagement capabilities as well as their offline customer interactions can lead to growth.

Help your clients market their programs by pairing promotional products with these strategies:

  • Incentives for online influencers
  • Rewards for social media engagement
  • Publicity and promotions for user-generated content
  • Recognition of individual consumers and followers
  • Cooperative marketing efforts with other organizations in the industry pipeline

Generating  Buzz For The Beehive State

After an expanded media outreach campaign brought increasing numbers of visitors to its state and national parks, the Utah Office of Tourism needed to provide quality branded merchandise to meet demand. However, the office’s nonprofit status meant it could not produce or sell items, so the office released an RFP to secure a vendor. Distributor American Solutions For Business was chosen for the project, and has since created a custom apparel line and a selection of more than 50 hard goods to sell through an online portal and by vendors throughout the state. 

With the expanded reach that the internet provides, the online store is filling orders for buyers as far away as Europe and China. The branded merchandise enhances the tourist experience and provides a keepsake that will remind them of the great memories made in Utah, long after they are home. 

Source: American Solutions For Business

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Jen Alexander is associate editor of PPB.