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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our marketing channels to reach our target audiences will include:
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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