What’s Next for European Travelers? 3 DMO Leaders Discuss New Trends in Tourism

Lauren Voges

September 21, 2020

If you’re thinking it’s too soon after lockdown to start looking at new trends in tourism and travel, think again. According to three destination marketing organization (DMO) leaders from Scotland, Italy and Spain, travel and tourism are reawakening in Europe. So, what does this mean for the industry? We asked Patrick O’Shaughnessy (VisitScotland), Maria Elena Rossi (Italian National tourist Board), and Gianluca Camaggio (Barcelona Turisme) to share their predictions on how best to prepare for the rest of 2020, as well as their lessons on how to attract visitors back to museums and attractions.

Meet the experts on new trends in tourism

Gianluca Camaggio (Barcelona Turisme)
Gianluca is the Sales Manager at Barcelona Turisme. This DMO operates in a private and public capacity, and they have a consortium. His work involves promoting Barcelona as a destination as well as promoting economic development of activities related to tourism.

Patrick O’Shaughnessy (VisitScotland)
Patrick is the Industry Development Manager for Visit Scotland. He works within Visit Scotland’s development directorate. His team focuses on helping and supporting businesses to grow. 

Maria Elena Rossi (Italian National tourist Board)
Maria is the Global Manager of the Italian Government Tourist Board. Her work focuses on the international positioning of Italian tourism and supporting the tourism industry in its development worldwide.

Expert perspectives: the new trends in tourism 

It won’t come as a surprise to many of us that Europeans are starting to travel again. But in the wake of a pandemic, the who, where, what and when of travel in Europe are looking very different. Our three experts offer their insights into how the travel and tourism industry has changed – and how you can harness those changes to entice visitors back into your museum or attraction.

Travel industry trend #1: Local markets are key

It’s time to take a step back from attracting an international market – day-trippers and staycationers are the new target audience. “From our data so far, 66% of the holidaymakers in Scotland are Scots themselves,” says Patrick O’Shaughnessy. “We found this very encouraging, because historically Scots are as likely to go abroad for their main holidays.” 

Instead of continuing to target international audiences or stopping their marketing efforts, Visit Scotland took the opportunity to show Scots that there are a lot of great things to see and do in Scotland. “Our call to action in our marketing was: ‘Scotland needs you,’” explained Patrick. 

The lesson: Appeal to your local audience’s sense of national pride. Encourage local visitors to book tickets to your museum or attraction by letting them know that you want and need their support, through your messaging. 

Travel industry trend #2:  Family trips are taking a back seat

Summer is usually a peak moment for family holidays, but this year many families favoured staycations and day trips. 

Barcelona Turisme’s Gianluca reported that the city had far fewer families visiting, but that couples and solo travelers still took their holidays. Visit Scotland’s Patrick mentioned an uptick in retirees and Maria of the Italian national tourism board pointed out that they have been focusing on millennials. 

“We need to make sure that the industry understands what these new types of travelers want and that they tailor their products to deliver that.”

– Patrick O’Shaughnessy

The lesson: While family trips overall seem to have taken a dip, different countries are seeing a surge in different types of travelers. Spend some time figuring out what kinds of travelers your country is seeing so that you can retarget your marketing to those groups. 

Top tip for family-centric attractions: Just because families aren’t going on holiday, doesn’t mean they’re not looking for things to do in their home cities. If your attraction is a family-oriented one, shift your marketing to focus on things like weekend activities for local families. As a lot of families aren’t traveling because of a wariness around the spread of the Coronavirus, make sure you emphasise the safety measures you have in place to give your customers the confidence to make that booking. 

Travel industry trend #3: Travelers are looking to see what’s open before they choose a destination

We’re living in uncertain times, and that makes choosing a holiday destination a more rigorous process than before. What travelers want to know before they go is: what will your city be like in the wake of a pandemic? What museums and attractions will be open, what kind of safety measures will be in place? 

“People will only travel if they feel there is enough to do somewhere from an industry perspective. It’s critical to share the message that you are open again to be able to attract any international traveler.”

– Patrick O’Shaughnessy

The lesson: If you’re still looking to attract foreign travelers or visitors from cities further away in your own country, make sure that people know that you’re open! 

Top tip: Adopt marketing messaging that can be enticing for both local and international markets. For example, Visit Scotland focused on marketing experiences and products that you could only find in Scotland, like Scotch Whiskey. Choose to highlight experiences and products that are unique to your city or country and use them to instil a sense of pride in local visitors and a sense of curiosity or wanderlust for international customers. 

Travel industry trend #4: Good hygiene measures are as important as a good review

Over the summer, consumers generally favoured outdoor activities and rural escapes. But as Autumn sets in, our experts predict that the industry can entice people back to indoor activities city breaks – if they let them know that it’s safe to do so.

Gianluca also emphasised that while it’s important to communicate your measures to customers in advance, it’s as important to be strict about your hygiene measures and social distancing rules onsite so that when people review the experience, they highlight that they felt safe at your venue as well. “The industry can help itself a lot by giving customers reassurance and by taking every opportunity digitally to share their safety measures,” added Patrick.

The lesson: Over-communicate your hygiene and social distancing measures on your website and social media channels to reinforce the message that you’re open and that it’s safe for customers to visit. 

“The way we visit Italian attractions now, at a moment when there are not many tourists and people in the cities, is quite unique. Attractions should point out to customers both beforehand and onsite that they get a better experience when there are fewer people around.”

– Maria Elena Rossi

Top tip: Reframe social distancing rules and capacity limits in your venue more positively by highlighting that by visiting the venue while distancing measures are in place, your customer can enjoy a less crowded experience.

Travel industry trend #5: Last-minute bookings are on the rise 

There’s a lot of uncertainty around when and whether to travel right now. Most European countries have put travel restrictions or quarantine measures in place for people entering their countries. This means people are less confident in their plans and less inclined to book travel, accommodation and activities too far in advance. 

“Far more people are leaving their reservations [in Italy] to the last minute. In the past, German and Austrian tourists would book their holidays sometimes as far as six months in advance. This year, most bookings have been made at the last minute, which makes it tough for business to plan ahead,” explains Maria.

The lesson: Counter the last-minute bookings trend by highlighting availability at your museum or attraction and offering a generous cancellation policy. If people feel pressure to book something so as not to miss out and know that they can cancel if they can’t make it, they’ll feel more confident in making a booking with you. 

More stats about travel industry trends  

Curious about some of the statistics around these new developments in the travel industry? Take a look at some of the data gathered during Tiqets survey about European travelers. 

While Europeans are ready to travel again, many travelers are showing a preference for staying closer to home. In Tiqets consumer survey, 34% of respondents planned to explore their own country and 51% planned to leave their country’s borders but stay within Europe. 

There’s been a significant shift in how people plan to travel to their destinations. Half of the respondents to Tiqets consumer survey planned to travel to their holiday destinations by car, while a third of respondents still plan to travel by plane. 10% intend on taking trains to their destinations.

80% of Europeans plan to visit museums and attractions on their next holiday, with almost 1 in 10 even deciding where to travel based on if museums or attractions there are open. 

The top consideration for European travelers when booking tickets to museums and attractions is flexible cancellation policies, with 55% of survey respondents citing this as their most important booking consideration.  

Interested in diving further into European travel trends? Download our Tourism Trends 2020 Report: The European Traveler’s Mindset Post-Covid.  

Keen to hear more about how best to prepare for the rest of 2020? Watch the full webinar on The Return of European Travel: DMOs Share Top Insights.  

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