Build a traveler persona for better destination marketing

Carnival mask in Venice Italy ideal traveler persona courtesy Irene Steeves on Flickr Creative Commons

Which traveler persona would wear this Carnival mask in Venice, Italy? (courtesy Irene Steeves on Flickr Creative Commons)

Can you answer this question?

👉 “Describe your ideal visitor, customer, or guest, aka ‘target markets’ in marketing-speak. It can be more than one sort of person (a certain type of family and also a particular type of business traveler) but describe them, in detail, down to their car, clothes, eating preferences, and travel habits.”

Can you picture this visitor (sometimes called a persona, a composite) in your mind’s eye?

Do you feel that you know them, can anticipate the sort of places they’d like to see and the things they’d like to do, and how they might want to connect with you?

Most importantly, does your destination marketing focus on this person, or does it attempt to be all things to anyone who’ll walk through the door?

Back in the 1990’s Las Vegas shifted their target market focus to say that they were a great place for families in addition to being Sin City.

It didn’t work out.

They went back to semi-racy ads and the famous “What happens here, stays here” vibe. They returned to appealing to the visitor that they knew so well.

It NEVER works to say that “you have something for everyone.”

Your ideal visitors are not “everyone.” They are certain kinds of people with certain interests and preferences. Your job is to make them aware of how well your particular destination fits their desires.

We’re thinking a lot about this topic as we work on destination strategic planning with one of our new clients, who is located in a very competitive leisure travel and meetings market environment. We encouraged them to look past the easy data like age or location or other simple demographics, and work to build out a few visitor personas that make sense for them.

Knowing who you are talking to, plus your specific marketing goals for the next few years, should drive everything you do with your marketing communications, including your social media and digital content plan.

Whenever possible, each social post, blog post, and email in your content plan should track back to attracting a particular ideal visitor.

Talk to your ideal visitor, customer, or guest as a person… because they are!

Here is a fun persona-builder from HubSpot to get you started.

It’s important to nail this down right now if you haven’t already done so, because we sense that as tourism recovers, a travel rebound is coming up a lot faster than even we would have anticipated only a few months ago.

In fact, just today the U.S. CDC announced that fully vaccinated people can safely travel within the U.S.

Contact us if you want to brainstorm building out some traveler persona profiles with us, or any other strategic planning you may need. We are your no-nonsense, experienced resource, and we’d love to help.

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Chris Sieverdes and Sharon Strouse along the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway in upstate New York

Chris Sieverdes and Sharon Strouse on the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway in upstate New York.

Are you located on or near a designated U.S. scenic byway or heritage highway?

Our clients at the National Scenic Byway Foundation have a great webinar coming up on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, about evaluating visitor first impressions of your byway.

Your webinar hosts are Chris Sieverdes and Sharon Strouse, Emeriti Professors from Clemson University and The Ohio State University respectively. Together they have over 40 years of experience in byways and community development education.

—->>  A session recording and copies of the slides will be available for those who register, including anyone who can’t attend the live event.

Learn more here about the Byway First Impressions webinar.

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