Domestic tourism has presented, and will continue to present, significant business opportunities for hotels and destinations alike. With keyword phrases such as “day trips near me” and “weekend getaways” reaching 18K and 33K searches per month, respectively, it’s no wonder why hotel marketers are looking for strategic ways to reach this audience segment. Want to learn how to attract domestic tourists to your property using expert tips and proven strategies? Keep reading!
In this post, we explore what domestic tourism is, provide some real-world examples, and show you how to gain an edge over the competition with tips on how to boost your domestic tourism marketing efforts.
What is domestic tourism?
At its highest level, domestic tourism involves residents of a country traveling within that same country. Road trips, weekend getaways, and staycations are all great examples. One of the biggest advantages of domestic tourism is that it includes local travel, which means easier and cheaper commuting. It's also a great way to fit a break into one’s daily life without having to rearrange work and family schedules.
Some interesting examples of domestic tourism marketing include:
- Travel Iowa. The Iowa State Park Passport provided guides and maps for all 61 of their park locations. This campaign received 12,000 sign-ups and 17,000 location check-ins within two months.
- Los Angeles Tourism. The Los Angeles Tourism board launched LALove, a staycation offer hub for locals that includes some of the most famous and desirable hotels in the city. Their 3x3x3 campaign encouraged domestic travelers to stay three nights in a hotel, eat at three restaurants, and enjoy three attractions.
Why is domestic tourism so popular right now?
Travel restrictions and health concerns have decreased demand for international tourism and increased the popularity of domestic tourism. According to Trafalgar, domestic travel is “set to be bigger than ever in 2021, particularly in the US.” For travelers, the idea that they can take quick trips for less money in locations that are still amazing is a huge win.
Learn how to attract domestic tourists with these 6 tips and strategies:
Knowing about domestic tourism is one thing. Knowing how to attract domestic tourists to your property is something entirely different. Being so, we interviewed a handful of expert travel marketers to get their take on attracting more domestic travelers. Their advice is tried and true — most experts reported increased bookings for this target audience over the past year thanks to what they’ve shared below. Here are their secrets to domestic travel success:
1. Use local SEO.
We interviewed Mohamed Nawaz Muallim, the Managing Director of travel guide platform Trift, to get his take on hotel marketing for domestic travel. Muallim and his team “were able to grow 10X on website traffic in 2020 and 3X in the past 3 months just by investing in search engine optimization." His advice? Focus on how you reach your audience.
“I see brands spending a lot on TikTok and Instagram, while a great opportunity in their own way, customers with intention go to Google,” points out Muallim. Based on their recent marketing experience, he learned firsthand that “the likeliness of a customer remembering a hotel from Instagram or TikTok is on a lower probability, especially when they're looking to plan their travel.” Instead, he and his team invested heavily in search engine optimization for local audiences and geography-based keywords.
Want to become an expert on search engine optimization? Check out our guide to hotel SEO, which features 14 need-to-know tips to maximize your exposure.
2. Promote local attractions.
“Local travel is the hottest topic at the moment, which is still alive,” said travel content marketer Tatiana Gavrilina. “That's why domestic hotels are benefiting so far — the pandemic, on the contrary, has increased demand for domestic hotel offerings.”
In other words, the problem isn’t how to attract more domestic tourists. It's how to get them to choose your property over the competition. One answer? Local attractions.
“Before the pandemic, your countrymen (may have) had little interest in exploring their (home) land, but now they are interested in any lake, any abandoned factory, and just a field of sunflowers,” says Gavrilina. And she means that literally: “They are used, for example, as a place for photo shoots, for writers to work together on a book, etc.”
What spots near your hotel aren’t considered local attractions yet but should be? Align your brand with both established and underrepresented local attractions. Not only will doing so improve your search engine rankings, but it will also bolster your domestic tourism branding so that your site becomes a go-to resource for the whole community.
3. Work with local influencers.
It’s an understatement to say that Instagram and social media advertising have changed over the past few years. Instead of leaning on influencers with followers in the millions, hotel brands are finding success with locally-based micro-influencers. Thanks to a surge in online searches for local travel blogs, these thought leaders are more valuable than ever, and working with them can cause overall engagement to soar.
But how do you go about finding these local influencers? Bright Local has an article on the topic, and their advice includes scanning your own social media followers, performing local hashtag research (i.e. #chicagofoodblogger), and using influencer marketing platforms such as Reelio and BuzzStream.
4. Make it homey.
Martina Rosado of Happy Travel Mag spoke to Cvent recently about what her readers really want when it comes to hotels and domestic travel. Rosado said this audience is a “large number of individuals who are ready for more than just a place to stay, they are looking for more of a staycation out-of-town experience.” She also says the main question on their minds when they view hotel marketing nowadays is, “How does it feel to live here?”
The good news is that you probably don’t need to change much to achieve this marketing angle. Instead, use what you have at your disposal and promote anything that fits under the two key selling points Rosado recommends: transient chic and vacationer lifestyle.
HOTEL INTERIOR DESIGN: Everything you need to know
In her own words, transient chic is all about “being chic and staying chic.” Think of home interior magazines that offer practicality without compromising style in their designs. What cozy spaces or decor does your property already have that can serve as a great photo opp? Even an empty corner can transform with a yoga mat, decorative cushion, and lantern or two — a perfect aesthetic for advertising your spa services while evoking that feeling of being at a chic home.
The other major angle for making your hotel marketing feel homier to domestic travelers is the vacationer lifestyle. As Rosado says, “traveling in the US is about experiencing the location's culture, atmosphere, urban areas, and people.”
Just because they can get there by car doesn’t mean it’s not every bit as interesting and exciting as somewhere overseas. Create messaging with this sentiment in mind to attract even more guests.
5. Stay flexible.
Hotel copywriter Jennifer Zajac of Five Star Content told Cvent that “flexibility remains the most important thing hoteliers need to be mindful of.” Although brands in other travel verticals such as airlines are taking away their flexible policies, keeping or expanding yours will be a big draw.
Zajac goes on to give two key tips: “Have a clear cancellation policy in place (and honor it), and offer last-minute staycation getaways that are easy to book short-notice.” She also shares, “TripAdvisor's late 2020 consumer survey showed that travelers want to stay within driving distance of home, and they want to be able to book less than 30 days out — or even within the same week.”
To streamline your campaign creation process and snag those same-week bookings, create a promotion template with sample messaging, cohesive photo sets, and CTAs. That way, your marketing team is ready to go for those Tuesdays when occupancy is lookng low for the weekend ahead.
Bana Bissat of travel discount search engine CuddlyNest agrees with Zajac’s advice to stay flexible, adding that properties should start to include hairier family members in their offerings. “Properties might want to reconsider their pet policies because while those who travel internationally tend to set a budget or time for pet-sitters, domestic travelers are likely going to want to grab their pet along — especially when traveling by car.”
6. Try print marketing.
Abby Herman of Snap Agency, a digital marketing company, recommends good old-fashioned print marketing as a way to stand out from the crowd. Herman advises hotel marketers to “invest in postcards as marketing strategy, as it contains the visual and the info you need to remind your neighbors you are up and running, ready to host them.”
Not sure what to include? Hermans says “a QR code would maybe provide free breakfast for two, or some other type of travel certificate they can use for some extra perks.” Not only is this a great method for tracking the ROI of a campaign, but it’s also a unique way to reach audiences that other local hotels may not be.
Now you know how to attract domestic tourists!
Now that you know more about domestic tourism and some tactics to help you tap into the market, you’re ready to create higher ROI campaigns. Follow these other hotel marketing trends to capture this moment and increase your bookings even more.