I was able to attend the CenStates Travel and Tourism Research Association conference in Rapid City, SD for three days of learning how to turn research into MONUMENTAL results. Being on one of our travel and tourism teams, I’m always eager to learn more about what is happening in the travel industry and with travel audiences.
While there was a lot of interesting information, a few key takeaways stood out for me:
The shared lodging economy is here.We can no longer ignore shared economy sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. H2R Market Research shared their findings from a recent study examining travelers’ use of shared lodging states across the country with a special emphasis on the CenStates region. They found that while traditional lodging is still dominant here, the shared lodging economy is growing and has the highest satisfaction rate. It is obvious that this trend will continue to grow in this region, and the travel industry will need to learn how to adjust.
Don’t show babies on a beach.It has been well known for years in the travel industry that women are the primary decision makers when it comes to travel planning. Meredith Travel Marketing dug deeper into how women from each generation choose where to vacation and how they plan their trip. This highlighted the importance of knowing your target audience and what makes them tick. For instance, showing a baby on a beach isn’t appealing for many women. It signifies dirty diapers and the stress of watching children while swimming, which generates negative emotions.
Data is your friend.In today’s digital age, there is no shortage of data. However, it’s only useful if you have the right tools and resources to analyze it. At the conference, we heard many different ways data can be used in travel ranging from making sure content on your website changes depending on the visitor to optimizing campaigns in real time based on who is viewing your ads.
Passion is contagious.One of my favorite things about the conference was being surrounded by people who are passionate about travel and the places they are promoting. It’s inspiring to hear all of the wonderful things that are being done in the Midwest to make communities vibrant not only for visitors, but for residents as well.
Thanks to South Dakota Tourism, many tourism coop partners and Liv Hospitality for a great time learning how we can better promote the Great Faces and Great Places of South Dakota.