7 Savvy Tips for Attracting Last-Minute Summer Travelers
Written by: Stephanie Bariatti, SMB Media Marketing Consultant
After what seemed like a loooong winter, sweet summer has finally arrived! For many people, the season is all about leisure, fun and relaxation, which often means taking a greatly anticipated vacation. Nearly half of Americans plan on travelling this summer. And while most of them have already solidified their arrangements for transportation, lodging and events during the spring, there are still those who haven’t booked anything yet. Here’s what you need to know about the procrastinators and spontaneous travelers, and what you need to do to get their attention.
First of all, who is the last minute traveler? According to a study from advertising agency Hoffman York, they are people who book trips within 14 days of their vacation, including same-day bookings. In fact, most are booking within one week. They spend, on average, only 2 or 3 days on their trip. Last-minute travellers are generally of a younger demographic, with 40% being under 35. 42% make $50,000 or less annually and 41% have children. Therefore, what we often see is young families and single millennials looking for budget-friendly getaways.
Here are some valuable pointers for reaching those who want to get away, but are still uncommitted:
1. Mobile is key to last-minute bookings. The popularity of sites like Expedia, Priceline and AirBnb, among others have made it a lot easier to catch deals on the go. Make sure your site is working seamlessly. It’s even better if you have an easily accessible and easy to use app. 80% of last-minute bookings are made via mobile.
2. Hit hard with your campaigns during peak search times. Research shows that people prefer to look at travel content most between 3-6 pm. Monday and Tuesday are the most popular days of the week for searching about summer travel, providing the biggest opportunity for clicks. Also worth noting – search demand for most vacation ideas peaks in April, but search demand for theme parks actually peaks in July.
3. On average, the last-minute traveler is booking a destination 580 miles from their home. They will often visit cities or outdoor locations, like lakes, beaches or state and national parks. It may make sense to use geo-targeting tactics to attract business.
4. Embrace travel trends to attract the younger, spontaneous travelers. This includes not only millennials, but also Gen Z’ers who are beginning to travel independently and on their own dime. These trends include micro trips, conscious travel and using developing tech like AI, virtual reality and speech recognition. Another hot theme is personal fulfillment and growth through learning and volunteering.
5. Focus on dazzling visuals. Sometimes, it’s enough to just post gorgeous photos on your website and/or social media in order to draw people to your location. If you want to take it a step further, you could create enticing videos for YouTube, hire online influencers to promote your business or start a photo-heavy blog to bring traffic to your website.
6. Promote your summer destination by hosting unique parties, events or giveaways. Advertising these events on local TV or radio might help bring in some last-minute crowds since they won’t have to travel far.
7. Create a rewards program or discount for return customers. If travelers are really indecisive about where they want to go, this may be just enough of an incentive for them to keep coming back when they don’t have much time to decide. They already know what to expect, so they won’t have to do any research.
Whatever strategy you decide to use, now is the time to get your message out there. We all know how quickly the summer flies by and you don’t want to miss out on this significant portion of tourists.
Stephanie Bariatti works as a Consultant and Project Manager for SMB Media Consulting. She has had extensive experience with many facets of advertising and media, having worked for and with creative agencies, production companies and research departments. She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, two lovable little boys, a new baby on the way and two snuggly Golden Retrievers.