Within the tourism sphere, it can often feel like trends are waves, out of our control. But the right tools can help measure and predict the tides.
Destination marketing organizations are uniquely placed to be the source of truth and knowledge about their areas, collaborating with other organizations and their own residents. They can both educate about trends and influence the shifts, especially as we welcome in post-pandemic tourism.
But what are the key elements for DMOs to build back better?
The missing piece of the puzzle?
DMOs bring information together from different sources and collate a holistic picture of their market. Often that comes with access to government data, tax income and external booking data, as well as traditional surveys. The key to any DMO’s success is understanding volume, both historical and into the future.
Still, one of the biggest blind spots in many DMOs’ data is short-term rental, the little brother of traditional lodging that has overtaken hotels particularly in the pandemic, where short-term rentals have actually performed better.
Vacation rentals are an integral part of the tourist landscape in 2021, reaching record occupancy levels across the U.S., though they act differently to hotels. Supply ebbs and flows more frequently, and there is a different demographic due to the different range of amenities and property sizes available.
It’s easy to forget that it is often residents who are renting out the properties, so the money from short-term rentals stays in the local economy, rather than away to a multinational company’s HQ. Understanding markets’ distinguishing features can empower DMOs to target their true customer base, and advocate for appropriate regulation that benefits both visitors and residents.
Out-of-season demand havoc in the Hamptons
As we navigate the pandemic, data is essential to tracking recovery, predicting income and marketing strategy. The famous summer-house hotspots of the Hamptons were witness to this in March of 2020, when the mass exodus from New York caused an unprecedented surge in out-of-season bookings.
In East Hampton, demand was 442% higher than in March 2019. As many properties in seasonal markets close up out of season, it was down to those in the know to get as many open as possible to absorb the massive demand.
With these unprecedented changes in traveler behaviors, a DMO can no longer rely on seasonality and occupancy patterns established in pre-pandemic times. Having future-looking and real-time data gives them an opportunity to better control and prepare for these otherwise unpredictable shifts in the visitor volumes.
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