Campers, travelers, snowbirds, RVers, families, friends, hikers, bikers, thrill-seekers, or those just looking to get away: however you identify them, they’re visitors to your park. And this year holds much potential for what visitors want and what our industry can deliver. We dove into PGAV’s Voice of the Visitor 2023, an annual outlook report on what is driving visitors to visit, and pulled out some of the key trends you should consider as you’re prepping for the 2023 season to be the best one yet.
VACATION IS STILL A PRIORITY
“A Destination Analysts’ survey revealed promising news: 74.8% of participants said travel was a “worthwhile investment” even during a recession. And 39.3% felt spending money on travel is essential.” Make sure the experience you provide is unquestionably worthwhile for your guests, and they’ll continue to invest in spending time with you.
REMOTE WORK AWAY FROM HOME IS HERE FOR GOOD
“Remote work has surged, giving people more freedom to travel and visit attractions. A study by Upwork found that 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely by 2025. That’s an 87% increase over pre-pandemic levels. Remote workers are heading away from their homes to work—and play. Many also combine work trips with leisure, spawning new buzzwords—bleisure and digital nomads.[…] Bleisure is changing typical traffic patterns by extending the weekend and peak seasons.” How can your park cater to people on site for their 9-5 work weeks and staying beyond that for a weekend of fun? Could you provide reservable office space for people to take meetings? Is your wi-fi up to speed to handle video conference meetings? Don’t overlook the opportunities to fill up your sites M-F and beyond.
MAKE FRIENDS WITH THE ATTRACTIONS AROUND YOU
According to the Voice of the Visitor 2023 report, historic landmarks, national and state parks, zoo/animal attractions, and theme park/amusement parks topped the list of where people were looking to go in 2022. Think about the attractions surrounding you that drive traffic to your area. How could you partner with them to offer value to your shared visitors? 60% of those surveyed in the VOV2023 reported they were season pass or membership holders to local attractions. Could a joint season pass be created that offers a deal for staying at your park? Consider creative ways to partner for shared benefit, especially when it comes to driving visitors to your local and regional market.
THEY’RE DOING IT FOR THE KIDS
“The desire to connect remains strong. Extended families are getting back together, friend groups are reuniting, and visitors are willing to make more than one trip. [But] families again broke a record [for travel in 2022], reaching 55% of those surveyed. The age of the children is also higher at 9.1—are they finally tired of screen time? Or are adults just demanding that they leave the house? Additional research reinforces that families are traveling with children. The 2022 US Family Travel Survey, conducted by the Family Travel Association in collaboration with the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality, found that 85% of parents are very likely to travel with their children in the next 12 months, with travel intent this year higher than in 2019. The survey showed that 76% of respondents indicated children as the inspiration for their travel.” Do your marketing efforts and website communicate that your park is an experience for families that both kids and parents will enjoy? Communicate your business as a go-to destination for family fun.
IF YOU’RE GREEN, FLAUNT IT
“Sustainability continues to be a growing concern for visitors, particularly Generation Z. Those visitors are increasingly interested in seeing authentic action. In Booking.com’s 2022 Sustainability survey, 71% of respondents said sustainable travel is important to them—a 10% increase over 2021. And half said recent news about climate change influenced them to make more sustainable choices. Focusing efforts on sustainable choices provides an opportunity to connect with visitors and the local community in a valuable way. Expedia’s Travel Trend Report showed that electric charging stations, solar use, recycling, the elimination of single-use plastics, and eco-friendly LED lighting were factors visitors found valuable.” If you’re a Plan-It-Green Park, plaster that incredible achievement everywhere. If you’re working on becoming an EV-friendly park, talk about that too.
EVENTS DRIVE TRAFFIC. PERIOD.
“From a family stroll around the hometown carnival to the wild escapades at Burning Man, a solo guitar performance at the quaint pub down the street to the packed lawn at Coachella, festivals and events draw visitors to connect, learn about a culture, try new foods, and explore the world. Festivals and events can add a new dimension to an attraction and are a significant component of many attractions’ calendars. VOV 2023 focused on event attendance and visitor desires regarding special events. More than half (56%) of respondents reported attending a festival or event in 2022. People commonly attended a food festival, Halloween event, or music festival.” Take a good look at your events calendar compared to VOV 2023’s chart on page 43 of the report detailing the types of events attended. Do you have them on your calendar?
THE OUTDOORS ARE TRENDING
“From visits to national parks to forest bathing (yes, that’s a thing), people are finding connection and refuge in nature. Outdoor activities present many psychological and physiological benefits to participants and can also present opportunities for attractions. A study by the Outdoor Industry Association showed 164 million Americans over the age of 6 participate in outdoor activities. That’s 54% of the population. Plus, interest is growing, adding 10 million new participants since March 2020.” Talk about being uniquely positioned to deliver on a trend.
That’s just the start of the insights provided by PGAV Destination’s Voice of the Visitor 2023. Read the full report and let us know what you’re looking forward to offering your visitors this year in Campfire Voices.