Outdoor enthusiasts represent a growing travel demographic. Every year, outdoor recreation brings in $646 billion in consumer spending, with 80 percent of that going towards travel and lodging expenses. Today, those who participate in outdoor sports and activities—from hunting and fishing, to skiing and snowmobiling—are among the most enthusiastic and connected online communities. Hotels looking to tap into a rich vein of valuable guests this winter should spend time and money digitally marketing their destination as an outdoor lover’s paradise.
An Ideal Demographic
Outdoor enthusiasts are an active and participatory audience with a tendency to forge deep and abiding connections with brands. This group shares a common bond that goes beyond being a hunter, fisherman, or cross-country skier. For many, their deep and lifelong commitment and investment to the outdoors is not a casual interest, but a lifestyle—fueled by a profound passion.
For hotel owners and operators looking to reach a potentially significant audience and maximize their advertising and marketing ROI, there are few more loyal and lucrative populations to connect with. More than half of this demographic earns a household income over $75,000, and they use it to do what they love. For example, the average hunter usually spends $2,500 each year on his passion, with a significant chunk going towards lodging.
Making the Connection
For hotel owners and operators looking to begin or deepen their outreach to adventure-loving guests, there are some important strategic initiatives and best practices that should be an integral part marketing, advertising, and communications plans.
Maximize your website
A website is a hotel’s biggest and most important tool—and driving people to it is arguably the best way to deliver creative content designed to appeal to the rapidly growing community of outdoor enthusiasts. Unfortunately, many brands and properties do not utilize this tool to its full potential, particularly with respect to the outdoor demographic. To design and deliver messaging that will connect with outdoor enthusiasts requires a deeper understanding of the priorities and perspectives of this unique group.
One way to specifically target the winter traveler is to create landing pages for each of the relevant outdoor activities in your area. Speak to specific service offerings and highlights, and use search-engine friendly language that will draw in new potential visitors.
Paint a picture for the whole family
While many outdoor enthusiasts may visit OTAs like Priceline or Orbitz, price is far from the only issue of importance for them. They want to know that they are spending their hard-earned dollars on a facility that meets all of their needs. And, because outdoor-related travel is almost never a solo activity, that frequently means identifying a hotel that provides traveling companions and family members with a range of activities, services, and nearby sites and attractions. While they may be there to snowboard or ski, they want to know if there are other engaging seasonal options. As these trips can easily be 3-to-4 night excursions, look at including a broader geographic area of activities—within a 25-30 mile radius—as part of the messaging.
Attention to detail goes a long way
Going the extra mile to cater to guests who are at a hotel to enjoy outdoor sports and activities is one of the best ways to convince a prospective guest that your property is the right one for them. Having a shuttle service to and from a nearby airport is fairly common. But is your transport vehicle equipped to hold skis, snowboards, or hunting equipment? Do you have an on-site equipment locker or storage facility? Do you provide specialized services such as ski waxing or gear rental? These are differentiators, and, for hotels that provide these services, featuring them in advertising and marketing content can help draw in new customers.
Bring Outdoor Enthusiasts to You
The right message to the right audience at the right time can be worth much more than expensive national or regional ad campaigns. Look at targeting the digital spaces where outdoor lovers already spend their time.
Be relevant. Ensure that your advertising works in context—avoid using your standard hotel banner ad and pull in relevant outdoor images and messages whenever possible.
Banners are better: When it comes to click-through rates, we clearly see banner ads beating video.
Be timely: Know that many outdoor adventures are planned months in advance, so schedule your marketing imagery and messaging to hit at the right time.
Know your audience: Arguably the most important thing for any hotel property looking to connect with outdoor enthusiasts to know is where and how to find that audience. Consider working with experts in this field to reach proven audiences that spend money to engage in these activities.
Bingham Farms, Mich.-based Carbon Media Group is a producer of digital content for outdoor enthusiasts. Hyaat Chaudhary joined Carbon Media Group as COO in August 2011 and became CEO in September 2012. For more information, visit www.carbonmediagroup.com.
Photo Credit: Couple on Ski Holiday via Bigstock