Dan and three golfing buddies played the Pebble Beach courses on his 50th birthday. In honor of their golden anniversary, Jerry and Charlotte took a group of 20 family members on an Alaskan cruise. Lauren and her girlfriends created their own 25th-year class reunion with a New York City shopping trip. They are not alone, as more than 70% of leisure travelers took a milestone vacation with friends and family over the past 12 months, according to The Ypartnership/Harrison Group’s Portrait of America Travelers.
Because birthdays and anniversaries may be the single greatest drivers of leisure trips in 2012, savvy travel marketers are exploring programs to leverage this opportunity. Here are a few ways to whet the appetites of experience-hungry consumers considering a variety of destination celebration vacation -- or “cele-cation” -- options and ensuring your travel brand is chosen.
Track behavior and optimize based on results. If you haven’t already, now is the time to commit to using a customer relationship management (CRM) system to measure the response of your most important consumers. Ask for and record their birthday and anniversary dates. Then email a promotion code for celebrating those events at your destination and track responses. Continue to modify your marketing program as you learn which offers generate the greatest response.
Make group travel easy. Position your brand as offering first-class celebration experiences without first-class rates. Offer a package that includes complimentary or specially priced cake, flowers, balloons, bubbly and a session with a professional photographer. Feature group rates on spa, outdoor adventure or learning activities that friends or family members can do together. Provide concierge services for reserving private dining and local ground transportation.
Build anticipation before the trip. Send a package containing maps and travel tips, including recommendations for restaurants that accommodate groups especially well. Market products making it easy to learn more, e.g., books about or taking place in your area.
Converse directly in person and through social media. Family and friends are a valued source of ideas and inspiration, so encourage guests to post photos of their group on your brand’s Facebook page. Engage, entertain and share a point of view. Connect in real-time during the celebration and thank them for choosing your destination for their party.
Keep memories alive. Provide mementos to take home such as commemorative Champagne flutes, branded gift packs or a tastefully
branded picture frame. Market gifts guests can purchase including local wine, books about your destination and specialty food items made in your area.
Reward loyalty. Show your appreciation and encouraging return visits by offering a gratis room night or free admittance to a local attraction on guests’ birthdays – and encourage them to bring their friends along for a meaningful vacation.
Today’s travelers are eager to relax. They’re more resourceful than ever and on the lookout for services, coupons and offers that make it easy for them to do so. So start assembling a smorgasbord of celebration vacation marketing tactics to serve up in 2012 to attract consumers looking for meaningful cele-cations.