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5 Types of Visitors Destination Marketing Organizations Should Target this Fall

Travelers are returning throughout 2021, with most successfully navigating the constant barrage of new information and requirements for entering destinations as borders reopen. It’s an exciting time, but for destination marketing organizations and other travel marketers, it’s important to remember who we are dealing with here.

Not all types of visitors are the same.

While some people just aren’t ready to travel yet, destinations can focus attention on those who are ready. Local visitors, national travelers, and internationals who can legally cross the borders will be coming from different pandemic experiences, and juggling their comfort with the safety of your community is a delicate act.

As we saw this summer with the new CDC guidance, confusion is the primary reaction to all of these new orders, so many travelers will look to destination marketing organizations for the final say.

As you put out information on your destination’s website or social media accounts, remember the array of travelers that may come your way and adjust your messaging accordingly. Difficult as it is to cater to every single type of visitor, understanding these five different profiles is an excellent first step towards more effective communication.

1. The “I’ll do anything to be there” visitor will take every test and precaution to be in your destination. They will eat up your safety guidance and offer you COVID test results in triplicate. You want them to visit because they will be the least stressful to manage, and your tourism partners will be certain to appreciate them.

As low-maintenance as they may be, these travelers are also like the kid that always sat in the front of class and raised his hand. They like to feel rewarded.

As such, tourism messaging needs to acknowledge the sacrifices and diligence of these kinds of travelers so that they feel like you truly appreciate it. Short of handing out candy to mask-wearing travelers, be sure to celebrate those who make small sacrifices to adhere to guidelines where you can.

2. The “What’s a PCR test?” visitor is not as experienced or knowledgeable about COVID restrictions, but has no strong feelings against things like quarantines or vaccines. They are a horse that will willingly drink if led to water. They just want to get away from their homes.

Travelers from places with fewer pandemic-era restrictions fall into this category, where they are far from clueless, but simply aren’t experienced with getting frequent COVID tests. They will likely comply with over-simplified messaging and crystal clear explanations.

Short of speaking down to them, you need to explain everything, with images if possible, to help prepare them for the experiences they simply have not yet had. This type of visitor is an easy one to win over to your side.

3. The “But I’m vaccinated” visitor is a traveler who, no matter their nationality, thinks the rules don’t apply to them. They have existed since before the pandemic, but the challenges they present are even more pronounced with so many varying rules. It’s not that they don’t want to obey, they just think they don’t have to comply for a multitude of reasons, primarily because they took the vaccine.

Their concern with other travelers and locals who may not be vaccinated never quite appears.

Your destination marketing organization’s messaging needs to be firm and direct to make sure these people know that, no matter where you come from or how many vaccinations you have, the rules still apply. Be stern and be clear in your messaging to drive it home, to avoid letting anyone believe they are an exception.

4. The “I’m nervous” traveler wants to visit and is receptive to safety precautions, but they respond poorly to ever-changing messaging and are susceptible to canceling their vacations. Older visitors, those with children, and novice travelers may fall into this category. They are eager to book a trip, and may have taken the plunge to reserve, but you know they have cancellation insurance.

Be reassuring and positive with them. Let them know that your destination is doing everything that doctors and scientists suggest so that they stay confident. Have local celebrities or spokespeople speak directly to them through video content to reassure them.

It may seem like you’re coddling them more than other types of visitors, but we’re all a little nervous still, so it’s best to be patient with them.

5. The “My travels, my choice” visitor will never understand and has little interest in inconveniencing themselves beyond the bare minimum. They didn’t forget to pack a mask — they just didn’t want to pack one. While strict restrictions at airports and borders will prevent many of these people from traveling as they like, local laws and mask mandates will be more difficult to reinforce if they do succeed.

DMOs have responsibilities to their communities to keep them safe, so it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to visitors who are anti-vaccination, anti-mask, or even anti-science for that matter. Yet they’ll still travel. Unfortunately, it’s been more than a year of this pandemic, so some dogs just won’t learn new tricks.

It’s a losing battle with these types of visitors to educate them, but instead be clear on the repercussions so they can’t play ignorant when they are denied entry somewhere. A little fear goes a long way, so be sure to drive home some of the problems faced by those who don’t comply with basic guidance— and it may even help reassure some of the other types of visitors mentioned above!

As the pandemic continues to lose ground to vaccination efforts, we’re all crossing our fingers that the situation will improve quickly. In the meantime, destination marketing organizations need to stay vigilant to communicate effectively with travelers who are so eager to visit.

Struggling to get your messaging out to the right types of visitors? DCI has more than 60 years helping destinations worldwide to do just that. Get in touch with Janelle McKinsey at [email protected] to learn more about crafting pitch-perfect messaging for your destination as we enter this new phase of recovery.

Struggling to get your messaging out to the right types of visitors? DCI has more than 60 years helping destinations worldwide to do just that. Get in touch with Janelle McKinsey at [email protected] to learn more about crafting pitch-perfect messaging for your destination as we enter this new phase of recovery.

Written By

Janelle McKinsey

Janelle is the Account Director in the DCI Los Angeles office. With a background in media relations, she enjoys story telling and is fortunate enough to do so within the exciting world of travel.

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