With peak travel season coming to an end, many destinations and attractions believe the opportunity to attract visitors is ending as well. Even though the summer vacation window is closing, it doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities for destinations to continue to attract visitors during the shoulder season. By shifting focus to different audiences and highlighting seasonally unique attractions and events, destinations can continue to attract visitors year-round.
The advantages of visiting a destination during the shoulder months have been well documented, with visitors enjoying smaller crowds, cost savings and more temperate weather. But the key to shoulder season success is understanding what types of audiences are most available to travel during these months and how to target them.
Obviously, family travel becomes more difficult with school in session. While family audiences may be off the board, the shoulder months offer opportunities to target audience segments with fewer family commitments, such as empty nesters and young couples. This also allows destinations to shift their marketing efforts to leverage attractions that are open year-round, like local food and drink, cultural experiences, or events that only occur in the shoulder months.
OFFERING A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
Attractions may close or have limited hours at the end of peak season, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to attract visitors.
Reframing the perception of shoulder season is vital, placing it on equal footing with peak in marketing efforts and showing the quality of shoulder travel experiences.
Often the shoulder months offer experiences that are different, or in some cases, not available during peak. Showing how the experience differs from peak can raise interest in both new and repeat visitors. A great example is showing how a shoulder visit can allow travelers to have a more authentic interaction with the destination by having easier access to attractions and local favorites.
Unique seasonal events are also great opportunities to drive visitation, giving an air of scarcity and exclusivity. Events showcasing the personality of the destination, local food and drink, or season-specific attractions are especially effective in stirring-up intrigue.
LEANING INTO SHOULDER SEASON
Even though the busiest travel season is wrapping up, it doesn’t mean tourism destinations have to close for business. By making strategic shifts in target audiences and messaging, along with taking advantage of unique opportunities that are exclusive to the shoulder season, destinations can continue to create interest with audiences and drive visitation year-round.