Visitor Experience Takeaways – Longwoods Silver Linings 2020 and MMGY Futures Study

The trends are clear across research and reports industry wide – the travel industry in the US for the next two to three years will be heavily dependent on domestic tourism. As regions are moving towards varying degrees of visitor-readiness and availability of experiences, how information is shared with visitors to your destination is rapidly shifting. We know that the march towards sharing information digitally continues across all age brackets, and comfort with tap to pay and other technologies is increasing. What learnings from the present can the travel industry take action upon now to build ongoing positive growth – we’ll walk you through key takeaways from the Longwoods 2020 Silver Linings Study, and the MMGY Futures Study.  

LONGWOODS 2020 Silver Linings Study

There were five key lessons from 2020, when considering where your opportunities lie for your in-market visitor experience the quick takeaway is:

TAKEAWAY: Younger travelers are visiting new states at increasing rates, which is great news for future visitation and an opportunity to cultivate loyal return travelers. More spur of the moment car travel is happening, which means that  visitors are discovering what is happening in your destination as they arrive. 

1) Invest in real-time communication channels:

Less research means a higher responsibility for the local hospitality community to educate visitors on current open/closed status, key popular activities and safety protocols. With the trends in outdoor activities and emerging strategies for sustainable tourism – connect your visitors with the tools to engage with the local community responsibly. 

Example: Historic and cultural information and video opportunities,  alerts and messaging via mobile, beacons and geo-fencing ensure timely and easy interaction points.   Integrate kiosks in high-traffic areas for 24×7 information, ways of scheduling and connection to brand, social UGC to inspire and educate onsite

USE CASE: The state of Hawaii partnered with TrueOmni to launch digital visitor experience solutions in their visitor centers and other high-traffic areas. Connecting the dots between kiosks and a mobile app makes it easy to share real-time information and link community values to responsible sustainable travel habits for visitors – check out our Hawaii case study.

2) Visitors are on the road and dropping in to your Welcome Centers.

Explore contactless technology now, visitors of all ages including this emerging younger travel group are increasingly expecting options that fit their preferences. Cash only, paper takeaways, and other mainstays of the past present your brand as dated or out of touch with current realities. As with wifi now being a standard expectation of hotel stays (Remember when it was in-room HBO?) Paper is not the past yet, but it is no longer a one-size-fits all service option.  Ensure you can engage on the device and way travelers desire, look at digital sharing options and ways to utilize new touchpoints

Examples to look at: mobile ticketing, reservations and payment options in-market, destination-wide host property options that connect key locations with visitor information or timely notifications.   Translation technologies for in-market that support the return of international travel in coming years.  Plan and think about the future of experience.

USE CASE: Louisiana outfitted all Welcome Centers throughout the state with kiosks and video walls to not only connect visitors with their cultural campaigns, but provide translations to five international languages.  They can connect this information from their centers to their mobile application to easily take any information with them.  They are now ready to meet the needs of today’s domestic travellers and for the international rebound of the future. Check out our Louisiana case study here.


Key Takeaway: From the Disruptors Panel: “With the pending loss of third-party cookies, first-party data is key to owning your audience.”  

1) It’s All About Data.


Take advantage of the trend towards younger travelers and their technology preferences to use digital platforms to grow owned channels – social media, email marketing, and first-party visitor data. Data is king in the coming years as the landscape changes. The more information destinations are able to collect to understand new visitor behaviors the better they will be able to adjust their marketing strategies for long term success.  

Example: Tie in-market data collection to advertising spend ROI – Use kiosks for discovery, sharing, and opt-ins to digital marketing – collecting visitor emails in-market is the perfect way to understand if your online paid marketing was successful. Arriving in your destination after having viewed a digital ad certainly makes ROI clear. 

Example: Use the photobooth feature to promote social proof sharing, and generate new followers for your own social channels.  I’m calling this feature out in particular because it’s a great example of giving your visitor a fun, customizable, shareable experience. The technology has come a long way (goodbye green screen!) – and you are truly giving your visitor something they cannot get anywhere else.

2) Content and Visitor Experience – Refining Your KPIs


The number one key strategy in the Futures Study was: “ 1.  Focus significant attention on content creation and dissemination strategies”

A leading goal for DMO’s was identified as revisiting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – with the aim to over the next years elevate “Visitor Satisfaction” to a top 3 goal for your destination.

3) Have a Clear Call To Action for Your In-market Channels.

Drive value by delivering a unique service or experience, and visitors will be more willing to share their information and experience with you.

DMO’s are still in the process of creating mechanisms to measure post-visit satisfaction. This is a new frontier for your organization to show value to your community and industry stakeholders. Visitor Profile studies are costly and time consuming, you can use digital touchpoints now to find out how your visitors are liking their visit, where they are spending their time and money, and if they intend to return.

USE CASE: Salt Lake City is converting their kiosks to be purpose-dedicated. Units will have a clear call to action for either their Bandwango Passport Pass, Restaurant Reservation, Events, Visitor Info or Convention/Meeting hospitality. They have thought outside the VIC by activating high-traffic areas like their airport with interactive brand information and generating revenue through advertising and merchandise sales. Driving usage of this technology increases the amount of valuable data they are able to collect. 

Other examples: Loyalty programs, Interactive Trails, reputation management platforms, demographic surveys.

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