Why micro-trips are big for travel brands.
January 16, 2019
Nothing spells “incremental revenue” for destinations and travel brands quite like an extended stay. Which is why travel marketers invest so much in compelling guests to book longer and longer trips.
And while having a strategy in place to encourage longer trips makes sense, marketers must also ensure they’re capitalizing on what’s likely to be a more effective approach in the off-season: micro-trips.
Call them bite-sized vacations, snackable journeys, or simply weekend getaways. Whatever the expression of choice, they’re big business. Some industry observers even go so far as to call 2019 the year of the bite sized travel. It’s no surprise, with more than half of surveyed travelers planning more, smaller trips in the coming year.
Here are five ways you can get your brand in on the micro-trip action.
1. Focus on the low season
For many destinations and resorts, bookings during peak times aren’t the main focus of concern. The question is how to expand the shoulder seasons and drive more off-peak travel. Micro-trips to the rescue.
Using those slower times to integrate micro-trip promotions into your strategies makes sense for a couple reasons.
One, there’s less inherent competition, so it’s easier to stand out and capture attention. This is especially advantageous for smaller brands that tend to get drowned out by bigger competition in peak times.
Two, it’s a chance to lure in travelers who tend to plan larger trips well in advance, but are more open to taking shorter trips at the last minute.
And three, it can be a surprisingly easy sell. Even in the low seasons, destinations have little trouble filling the traveler’s itinerary with enough to do to make a two-night jaunt worth the effort.
2. Micro trips? Micro target.
Take a fresh assessment of your destination and everything it has to offer—the culture, the cuisine, the nature, and everything in between. Now match those offerings to enthusiasts within those same categories. Again, you don’t have a week of time to fill up. But a two-day birdwatching trip, culinary tour, museum crawl, or spa and massage retreat? Those are the sort of specialized itineraries plenty of destinations can cultivate, and for each one, there’s an audience out there, eager to learn more.
And don't forget to include older audiences. Retirees and empty nesters can be the key to filling empty beds mid-week.
3. Play piggyback
Restaurant weeks, historic home tours, arts festivals—keep an eye out for any interesting events coming to your region, then hit those same micro-targets with special package deals.
Don’t have any events coming up? Create one. Anything related to local food, music, nature, and culture are always nice draws. Or team up with a local college or university to take advantage of the emerging trend in enrichment travel. The more reasons you give people to come, the more reasons they’ll have to say yes. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to plan it properly and get the word out.
4. Go (almost) local
Typically, shorter trips are easier for someone to contemplate the closer they are to home, so start with audiences within a reasonable travel radius of your destination.
Try this exercise: make a list of all the population centers that within a reasonable distance for day trips, then one-night and two-night stays. Then strategize events and travel packages tailored for each of these three types of trips.
The Gaylord Texan near Dallas, for example, has created a regular Christmas cottage industry bringing in local and regional visitors during the holidays, at times when the resort’s typical throngs of conference goers are at home.
Of course, make sure you take advantage of other audiences with easy access to your location as well. Check the local airline schedules for unusually large numbers of flights to and from other particular markets, and look for routes where the airlines are battling it out with cheap fares. It’s not unrealistic to lure in air travelers for a quick trip if the price is right. if Vegas can do it, so can you.
5. Show some love
While longer trips are often the focus of families, a romantic, two-night getaway can hold serious appeal to couples, married or otherwise. Craft stay-and-play packages for the grown-ups, with an emphasis on romance and togetherness.
One more thing. Don't forget to show your love with special pricing as well. Folks know this is your down time, so they’ll expect a great value as well as a great time. Make it easy for them to say yes to that micro-trip by bundling up everything they want for one low price. Show them the savings, and they’ll be more likely to show you the bookings.