Travel and tourism is an industry with a significant economic impact in the United States. It’s also an industry that experiences a great deal of flux due to external factors such as the political climate, economic health, and tourist perceptions of specific destinations and the travel industry as a whole.
Of these, tourist perceptions are among the most influential. Tourists form perceptions around destinations, and these perceptions carry tremendous weight as a person is considering future travel plans. It’s important that we recognize the power of these perceptions in fueling growth for the travel industry.
Tourist perceptions present challenges to the travel industry. While there’s a tendency to think that perceptions are based on one or two major factors, they’re often formed in many layers and influenced by multiple factors. For instance, a tourist may base their perception of a destination on the general travel environment and reputation for safety, along with what the destination has to offer in terms of natural attractions, entertainment value, and relaxation.
Today, tourists have access to an incredible amount of information that they can leverage to make decisions about travel. They can access travel websites, but they’re also paying attention to what they’re seeing on social media and what’s being reported by the media. When we take into consideration the significance of the average person’s digital experience on their travel preferences, it becomes glaringly evident why it’s necessary to cultivate tourist perceptions from multiple angles.
While businesses in the travel industry don’t have control over external factors that influence the travel climate, there is plenty that they can do to influence perceptions on a micro level. For example, they can leverage social media to create positive word of mouth to cultivate perceptions of specific destinations.
Social media can be used to cultivate awareness of cultural, architectural and historical attractions that set a destination apart from others. Additionally, social networks provide an opportunity for those that have visited a destination to reinforce positive perceptions with their own accounts of actual experiences.
Travel customers want to know that they’re going to receive the maximum return on their investment. They also want to be assured that tourist safety is a top priority and that their travel experience will provide the relaxation and rejuvenation they want and deserve. The ability of businesses in the travel industry to provide customers with validation through promotions, word of mouth and social outreach is a crucial component to cultivating tourist perceptions that drive growth for the industry as a whole.
With the right strategy and approach, it’s possible to use tourist perceptions to your advantage and to fuel growth for your travel industry business in the process. At Coraggio Group, we specialize in perception management, especially in tourism. We’ve worked in Oregon’s growing travel industry for several years and have helped organizations like Travel Oregon involve key stakeholders in strategy development. We’re here to help you better understand the nuances of the travel industry and how to respond to the challenges.
Click here to learn more about our destination perception study and how we help travel & tourism organizations nationwide.
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