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Consumer Travel Research: A True Necessity Today?

Asking whether you need to budget for your own consumer travel research is a fair question. After all, with so much research out there by so many independent organizations and publications, why spend money on something new, right?

When a study reports that “75% of travelers” say something, it’s easy to assume those travelers are the ones you’re seeking to attract. Furthermore, sifting through all the data and spending time reading reports seems like a heavy lift to many marketing professionals who want to get down to business. There’s always seemingly somewhere better to allot time and resources – but then again, perhaps not.

Consumer travel research is a vital launchpad for new ideas and approaches that destinations worldwide – no matter how small – need to embrace. Whether it’s absorbing data from external reports or designing your own destination-focused research project, data and findings inform destination marketers in multiple ways that are worth reiterating over and over again.

1. Stimulates Questioning

To enact research in the first place, researchers require a guiding question or statement. This means you’ll have to dig deep and brainstorm to develop a research project to learn what you don’t know, or what you could know better.

This sort of thinking isn’t natural to marketers, who are often working towards achieving predetermined outcomes and targets. In marketing research, however, there are no KPIs, just endless possibilities to learn about facets of your customer base, their behaviors, and how to better your approach overall. A researcher mindset will ensure your strategies never stagnate.

2. Confronts Uncomfortable Truths

Sometimes we think we’re doing the right thing, but numbers usually don’t lie. Research can reveal that certain strategies that worked pre-COVID may simply not be effective today, or that perceptions of a destination aren’t what we thought they were. 

DMOs need consumer travel research to shine lights where destination marketing professionals don’t always look – or want to look. It’s difficult to accept that the way we once did things isn’t the best way to continue. Or worse, that what we were doing was actively thwarting our efforts. Consider research an invitation to change for the better.

3. Justifies Decisions

When you’re looking for funding or allocations of resources from public or private entities, having research to back up your projects is a big boost. Using either external or internal consumer travel research to bolster any such decision is key. It demonstrates clear, rational thinking and increases the chances that anyone, from a supervisor to an outside entity, will take you more seriously. 

Research-based decision making is vital, even if a glut of tourism research available makes it difficult to find trustworthy and pertinent research to support your strategies. And yes, it’s difficult, but research shows that people like to complete more difficult tasks before all others, so it shouldn’t be a problem to tackle!

4. Eliminates Waste

You need consumer travel research for practical reasons, as well. We’re not just talking about money. While data and results can help increase revenue, it can also help save you energy and time that you may be spending needlessly.

The sheer amount of time your destination marketing teams devote to certain functions is often all for naught. The only way to know, however, is to invest a little time into research in order to prevent future energy from seeping through the cracks. Destination marketing teams are already so overworked, so grab any chance you can to streamline the day to day workloads for your teams.

5. Uncovers New Possibilities

Finally – and perhaps encompassing all of the above points – marketers need consumer travel  research to keep things fresh. Whether it’s some new trend from Expedia’s research or from internal focus groups, research findings reveal things about the audiences you are targeting that you may never have realized before.

Go deeper and even consider academic research, which often goes overlooked. The questions academic researchers ask will undoubtedly spark ideas for professionals seeking to level up their marketing game. No matter the reason, investing in consumer travel research will pay off in the end – there’s plenty of research out there to support it!

Still pondering if you truly need destination marketing research in your strategy? Contact Robyn Domber at [email protected] to learn how DCI’s research team can help you harness the potential of both external and internal research for your destination’s goals.

Written By

Robyn Domber

Robyn is DCI’s Vice President of Research. In this role, she spearheads all of the firm’s primary and secondary research efforts, including surveys, focus groups, data analysis and result compilation. She joined DCI with 15 years of experience in the site selection and economic development consulting field.

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