Did you ever dream you were a cowboy or a princess? Your childhood dreams become reality in our new campaign for The Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In this series of five videos, we covered everything from accommodations and amenities to locally sourced cuisine and mountain adventures.
Each video was created to entice a different sub-set of our target audience. In “Wake up” and “Go with the Flow” we highlight the Zen side of the mountain experience where everything revolves around the trout stream that flows through the property. The video “In the Heart” highlights western adventures from rock climbing and horseback riding to white water rafting and mountain biking, in and around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. We explore the depth of resort accommodations in “Spread your Wings”, including the indulgent Spa Suites. In “Magical Adventures” we reconnect with our inner cowboy and show travelers how Rustic Inn creates lifelong memories for families.
Tinsley also created a long-form film that covers everything, including local game and the extensive wine cellar. Proving that you can go into the wild without giving up creature comforts.
There was a time when dining on vacation revolved around stopping for a pecan log at Stuckey’s, or jumping off the interstate for a quick bite at Howard Johnson’s on the way to somewhere better. Today, food is the destination.
Whether it’s traveling to Sonoma for a week of organic wining and dining among the vineyards, or grabbing a roadside roti from an oil drum grill in Montego Bay, more people than ever are getting a taste of the world, one bite at a time. And it’s not about gourmet dining. Food travelers are craving authentic experiences. Real food from the places locals eat. Foodies with a gourmet preference are very much in the minority. So much so, in fact, that the food travel industry refrained from using the term “Culinary Tourism” in 2012 after research showed that the vast majority of English speakers interviewed found the word “culinary” to be elitist.
The shifting trend towards authenticity goes hand-in-hand with the explosion in popularity of TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” and Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, and the proliferation of food selfies on social media. More than 60% of today’s leisure travelers admit to posting photos of their food online. We used to share french fries. Now, we share everything.
And when it comes to sharing, most food travelers are motivated to visit a destination, restaurant or bar based on the recommendation of a friend. Once they get there, they typically spend 48% more on their trips than typical leisure travelers.
In today’s world, experiences are the new souvenirs, and adventurous food travelers have learned that the best way to truly understand local culture is through food and drinks. So encourage your guests to step away from the buffet, break free from the guard gates, and turn a meal into a memory somewhere off the beaten path.
While climbing Kilimanjaro or trekking the Himalayas might not be your cup of Tibetan tea, for a growing number of young and intrepid travelers, experiences like these are just the tip of the iceberg (the floating monoliths off the coast of Newfoundland are a must-see). Then again, the definition of adventure travel has evolved, no longer indicating a millennial mindset nor the need to risk life and limb. Today, adventure seeking baby boomers are leaving their comfort zone and packing their bags for new, adrenaline pumping experiences. Scuba diving, kayaking, cycling expeditions, wildlife treks and cultural tours have all become part of the new adventure travel vernacular. More recent travel trends include “set jetting” to real-life movie locations, and girls-only tours inspired and empowered by the #metoo movement.
Age and gender aside, today’s adventure travelers are all after the same prize: off- the-beaten-path locations that offer a combination of authentic cultural experiences, sustainability, local interactions and just the right amount of physical oomph. In other words, you don’t have be Lewis or Clark to experience the adventure of a lifetime, but you will have to get off the couch.
Of course, all of this globetrotting and trekking doesn’t come without a price. Adventure travel in particular and tourism in general are taking their toll on sensitive natural areas. In fact, did you know that buying a plane ticket is the single most costly carbon decision a person can make? Enter ecotourism. While there’s no widely accepted definition of green or low-impact travel, the International Ecotourism Society defines it as responsible travel to natural areas which conserves the environment and improves the welfare of local people. This could mean opting to travel by boat, train or car, or booking rooms in LEED-certified hotels and supporting local conservation efforts. In the end, ecotourism is about personal and social responsibility. It’s about leaving a location better than you found it, and taking away nothing more than photographs and memories.
Families have never been more bombarded with information and options than they are today. So what are families looking for when it comes to the perfect vacation and what can resorts, destinations and cruise lines do to effectively market to them? It seems obvious that our shared experiences are the most important memories we have of childhood, and exploring the world together is what we all dream of. But there are several factors that can make or break a family vacation. Value is cited most often, not just was the vacation affordable, but was it worth it, no matter the cost. Convenience is also a major consideration. Resorts that offer strollers, kids’ toys, baby food and nanny programs are a big plus for families with young kids. Teenagers are more difficult to please as they don’t see themselves as kids, and most “Teen Clubs” are largely underused. Real action like zip lines and kayaking are better alternatives for teens, and free Wi-Fi is considered a fundamental human right for young people.
Parents spend most of their time worrying, so safety is paramount. This is a major obstacle for travel outside the United States. Recent reports of violence, Zika and natural disasters in popular tourist destinations have caused many parents to opt for an adventure theme park over an actual adventure. But resorts and destinations can effectively market to adventurous families by emphasizing the lengths they go to keeping your family safe. Another challenge is accommodating large families. Hotels are still the most popular option for families, but renting two hotel rooms is an unattractive option for most families. Resorts that have truly connected rooms or large suites that can hold a family of five–plus grandma–are rising in popularity. Home rentals like Airbnb and VRBO will continue to grab market share as home and cottage rentals are a very affordable way to house the multi-generational family.
Resorts and destinations that seek to attract families must be realistic about the times of the year that families can travel: summer, winter break and spring break are the only times American families can travel. Schools will no longer accept a family vacation as an excused absence. Resorts that cater to children must have an “off season” strategy to fill their properties with adults or families from Europe, Asia and South America who may have a different school calendar. Families also typically book three months prior to travel, so don’t count on many last-minute bookings.
Florida still tops the charts as the number one destination for family travel with California as number two in the United States. Internationally, Canada saw about 61% of family travelers from the U.S., followed by the Caribbean at 17%, Mexico at 13% and Europe at only 8%*. Again, safety and convenience are driving these numbers. Many families say they would like to travel to more exotic destinations, but only the most adventurous are actually doing it. These travelers tend to place travel at a higher priority than possessions, and are less risk adverse.
Despite technology, word-of-mouth is still the number one driver of family vacation considerations. Bad experiences, broken promises and unmotivated staff will have long-lasting negative effects on properties, cruise lines and destinations. Bloggers and journalists are also influential, but as consumers become more aware of paid endorsements, trust issues arise.TripAdvisor is held in high regard, but after the “Shed at Dulwich” hoax, people may be looking more closely at the quality and motivation of on-line reviews. Television and magazines are still excellent vehicles for marketing to families though the metrics are more difficult to calculate. Search engines are generally credited for the sale, but with a three month booking window and multiple family members influencing the decision, the “creation of desire” is something that takes place over time and over multiple platforms, some more measurable than others.
So what is the secret formula to attracting families? It’s simple. Families want to relax and create memories together in a safe environment that’s worth the price. Speak to them with honesty, integrity and satisfy them emotionally. If you make the right impression, they will come back year after year, and once a family tradition has been set, the kids will grow up and want to share that experience with their own children.