Q1 LEISURE TRAVEL MARKETING PLAN

Taking Advantage of Pent-Up Demand for Travel

Research indicates that there is pent-up demand among leisure travelers following months of COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, with more than 70% of Americans reporting that they miss travel and are excited to start traveling again as soon as it is safe. By monitoring the trigger points listed below, Visit Albuquerque will shift our leisure marketing messages toward encouraging travelers to plan a visit. The timeline for our marketing campaigns will follow the lead of governmental authorities to ensure safe visitation.

Data-Driven Marketing

Data-Driven Marketing

As the hospitality industry reopens, Visit Albuquerque’s marketing decisions will be informed by data. We will monitor and analyze the following trends and use them as trigger points to initiate, deploy and scale our marketing campaigns and sales activities targeted to leisure travelers: 

State and Local Restrictions

  • Easing of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders in New Mexico.
  • Easing of travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders in the top five to seven geographical markets that we target for marketing.
  • Easing of restrictions on group gatherings and maximum occupancy levels for hotels and restaurants.

Traveler Intent

  • Google search queries for Albuquerque travel, Albuquerque hotels, Albuquerque events, and other keywords.
  • Increases in traffic to the Visit Albuquerque website.
  • Increases in Visitors Guide requests.
  • Increased interest from national travel media.
  • Increased engagement on Visit Albuquerque’s social media platforms.
  • Increases in travel-related inquiries on our website’s live chat feature.
  • Increased traveler confidence, demonstrated through industry survey results that show growing positive sentiment toward air travel and overnight stays. 

Behavior

  • Increased positivity in local sentiment and comfort level with welcoming visitors back into the community.
  • Opening of popular local venues, attractions and activities.
  • Rescheduling of events, including fairs and festivals.
  • Resumption of group tours.
  • Initial increases in local hotel bookings, occupancy rates and average daily rates, as tracked by STR.
  • Upticks in passenger traffic at the Albuquerque International Sunport.
  • Increased interaction at Visitors Centers managed by Visit Albuquerque at the Sunport and in Historic Old Town.
  • Increased consumer spending confidence overall.
Our Target Audiences for Q1

Our Target Audiences for Q1: Drive Markets, Early Travelers and Staycations

Initially, we will focus our efforts on audiences in drive markets – those who are looking for a destination that’s within driving distance of their home. Again, this decision is based on data, as research conducted in May of 2020 reported that less than 20% of travelers felt safe getting on an airplane.
 
Americans’ reluctance to fly also expands our definition of the drive market. Traditionally our drive market has been the states immediately bordering New Mexico, but we will investigate advertising in markets farther afield, such as Southern California, because research indicates that travelers are more willing to drive longer distances rather than being in airports or on planes. Located at the crossroads of two interstate highways and with Historic Route 66 running through the middle of the city, Albuquerque is perfectly positioned to take advantage of road trips. We will leverage this to our advantage.
           
Leading into FY21, Visit Albuquerque will continue to target the same core visitor profiles for leisure travel as we have over the past few years. What will change is our approach and targeting methodology to reach subsections of these audiences that are most likely to travel to Albuquerque. More details are provided following each profile below:

INTREPID TRAVELERS

Male dominant
Ages 25-45
Average income: $70,000/year
Top 3 interests: outdoors, cuisine, events

We will direct our initial messaging to the Intrepid Travelers, because we know that this slightly younger audience is likely to be the first to begin traveling again. They also are more likely to have disposable income, since many of them are single or are couples without children.

 

FRIENDLY FAMILIES

Female dominant
Ages 35+
Average income: $75,000/year
Children in the household
Top 3 interests: outdoors, culture, events

As we monitor traveler sentiment, we will expand our marketing to the Friendly Families demographic. Messages to this audience will begin in Q1 to take advantage of people planning family-friendly road trips with their children during summer vacations from school.

 

PRUDENT BOOMERS

Female dominant
Ages 45 to 65
Average income: $75,000/year
Top 3 interests: culture, art, cuisine

Knowing that older populations might be slower to return to travel due to health concerns, we will carefully monitor our trigger points in order to determine our marketing budget, timeline and messages for the Prudent Boomers demographic.
 
We will also promote staycations that encourage Albuquerque residents and people from nearby communities to spend their travel money locally to support the local hospitality industry. We will investigate coordinating with the industry to develop special staycation packages for local residents.

Targeting methodology will remain flexible as new research becomes available and new targets or subsections emerge as opportunities for promotion.
 

Initial Messaging

Initial Messaging

Our first marketing messages will focus on outdoor recreation, as research shows that a majority of early travelers plan to avoid crowded destinations. Albuquerque is fortunate to have an abundance of trails and open spaces where people at every skill level can practice social distancing in the outdoors. Potential ads will feature golf, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and other types of outdoor adventure. We’ll encourage visitors to stay, shop and dine while taking advantage of our outdoors and our great weather. We will also highlight Albuquerque’s affordability, since price is a factor in times of economic uncertainty. 
 
We will monitor keyword searches and website traffic, and as people get more comfortable with traveling again, we will begin to expand our advertising to feature Albuquerque’s arts, culture, and attractions. People will feel safer traveling domestically rather than internationally, so we’ll promote only-in-Albuquerque experiences to generate excitement about our history and diverse cultural experiences that differentiate our city from other U.S. destinations. As we shift into this phase of marketing, our messages and ads will feature Native American traditions and Hispanic heritage, historic neighborhoods and authentic cuisine.

Q1 is traditionally the timeframe when Visit Albuquerque heavily promotes the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®, encouraging visitors to book hotel rooms and make final travel plans. We will collaborate with Balloon Fiesta management on a coordinated marketing approach that is based on any adjustments that are made to the event. We also will collaborate with the City’s Cultural Services Department to adjust marketing plans to reflect any changes at City museums, the ABQ BioPark and City-sponsored events.

In all of our marketing efforts, we will emphasize ways the local hospitality industry is following safety protocols in their operations. Research shows that more than 75% of people say they will research how a potential destination is managing the COVID-19 situation before they make plans to travel there. We will promote the New Mexico Safe Certified program developed by the New Mexico Society of Association Executives (NMSAE) and the New Mexico Tourism Department and encourage businesses in the hospitality industry to become certified. The certification will help instill confidence in travelers, who want to know what travel-related businesses are doing to keep them safe. We will also promote the New Mexico Safe Promise program developed by the New Mexico Hospitality Association with support from the hospitality industry encouraging individual commitments to adhere to COVID Safe Practices (CSPs).

At the same time, we will use our communication channels to encourage visitors to do their part in being responsible travelers when they come to our city. It will be important to reassure residents so that they feel safe and comfortable in welcoming visitors to our city.

Finally, we will use social media, letters to the editor, op-eds and media relations to emphasize the importance of travel and hospitality to the local economy. We will highlight the economic impact of tourism, especially on small businesses, and ensure that local residents understand that Albuquerque’s financial recovery from COVID-19 will depend largely on our ability to bring visitors and their spending back to the city.
 

Marketing Channels

Marketing Channels

Our marketing channels to reach our target audiences will include:

  • Highly targeted digital advertising via interactive online banners and videos. Using travel experts TripAdvisor and ADARA, we can identify people throughout the U.S. whose web browsing activity indicates that they might be interested in traveling to Albuquerque. We will then target these people whenever and wherever they are online to encourage them to book their trip.
  • Ads on Connected TV devices (a television connected to the internet to stream video content). Nearly 75% of U.S. households have a Connected TV. Our ads will be geotargeted to traditional drive markets in the surrounding states of Texas, Colorado and Arizona and, if budget allows, advertising will be expanded to southern California, Nevada, Utah and Oklahoma. 
  • High-impact print advertising. In the past, our print ad placements have concentrated on in-flight magazines (such as American Way or Southwest magazine), as the readers of these publications tend to be frequent travelers with higher incomes. In FY21, due to uncertainty surrounding air travel recovery, we will shift our print advertising to regional and niche publications such as those targeted at mountain bikers, skiers, motorcyclists, golfers or foodies.
  • Exciting social media content, including a budget for boosted posts and strategically targeted ad sets in order to broaden the reach, engagement, and overall impressions of certain prioritized elements of the social media strategy. Our social media features stunning photos and videos, helpful and engaging links to our website, and links to relevant media coverage that inspire our followers to share our posts and, more importantly, to start planning a visit.
  • Media relations and public relations coupled with social media influencer marketing. In careful alignment with the triggers identified earlier, we will actively pitch story ideas to travel writers and invite them to visit Albuquerque to capture the flavors and colors of our city. We will immediately begin work on short-lead travel stories with timely angles and long-lead travel stories with evergreen angles, and prepare for press trips and media missions when the market indicates the timing is right.
  • A responsive website that features a comprehensive events calendar, 360-degree videos, detailed information about the destination, and a variety of trip-planning tools. Reopening information on our website will be continuously updated with recommendations for how travelers can safely experience our city and support local businesses. Messaging will be carefully aligned with recovery. 
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) to ensure VisitABQ.org is easy to find based on relevant search queries.
  • Targeted email messages to our list of more than 130,000 leisure travelers who have opted in to receive information about visiting Albuquerque and want to learn more about events, attractions, cuisine and culture.
Representation and Inclusion

Representation and Inclusion

Visit Albuquerque will continue to expand its efforts around diversity in FY21, with a commitment to promoting diversity and inclusive representation within all marketing efforts. Photo and video assets will be representative of the many cultures and communities that call Albuquerque home. Advertisements, social media posts and website content will reflect the diversity of our residents and visitors. Existing content will be reviewed and new content will be developed to ensure inclusion. When appropriate, Visit Albuquerque also will partner with local organizations that represent these communities to elevate diverse voices, inform direction and approach, and participate in positive social change.
 

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