It’s March and Summer is not far behind:

This summer between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Americans will take over 600,000,000 long distance trips (TripAdvisor). Combine that with the fact that in 2015 leisure travelers in the U.S. spent over $650 billion (US Travel Association), it becomes clear that there is a strong marketing opportunity in tourist areas during the summer that is just waiting to be tapped. As most people happily anticipate Spring, are you thinking about Summer yet, and how you can reach your target audience during this active timeframe, market by market?  At EMC, we are encouraging our clients to plan for the major influx of tourists that are heading to the country’s popular destinations between now and fall.

Quit staring – You look like a tourist!

As OOH specialists, we know that each city has their own travel patterns and local media options.  Tourists make up just another unique target group for each market, as their patterns are created by itineraries that include famous landmarks, attractions and destinations.

Targeting tourists has an added benefit; unlike locals who are moving through familiar surroundings, they are actively and intentionally “looking around”.  74% of travelers are planning a trip “Going somewhere I’ve never been before” (TripAdvisor: Travel Trends 2016). That means that tourists will have a heightened sense of awareness as they visually take in and experience their new surroundings.  They are keenly sensitive to messaging and each city’s OOH network offers a prime opportunity to market effectively to this coveted audience. What will you do to surprise and delight them? Can you enhance their experience?


OOH media is part of the geography of travel:

For example: if you want to get a message to decision-making Moms, or business commuters, or urban millennials who live in the Philadelphia area, we have just the right OOH plan for you. But, as tourists arrive from all over the USA and the world, converging upon a tight knit area within a 4-mile radius inside Philly’s historic and cultural areas, the demographic and media landscapes changes. This shift creates a whole new set of opportunities to reach this distinct audience. 42% of travelers said they were planning a trip to a downtown/city center area (Statista 2017). Philadelphia in March is not the same in July, and this principle applies to all major tourist markets.

Each market has its own set of anchor locations, and each of those attractions will draw different types of crowds, with their own set of behaviors. Each of those areas will also have its own set of out of home media choices that are best suited to targeting those behaviors. Identifying those patterns can be a challenge. We’ve spent over 25 years reaching short term visitors to major markets with event marketing strategies, and that has given us the opportunity to see firsthand how visitors move through various cities, travel, and interact with media.

Additional points to consider are the ways people will travel to their vacations and major Summer events.  Airport advertising is an obvious consideration; people also drive and take trains. Billboard advertising is another obvious medium to reach those on the road.  In 2016 56% of Americans were planning a summer road trip (AAA: Summer Road Trip Study 2016).  Also, once vacationers arrive, you will want to consider how they will travel during their stay: walking, rail, taxi, bus or bike.  Each city offers numerous media options to target visitors effectively as they circulate, dine and are entertained.

Out of Home and Mobile make great traveling companions:

Another key behavior of tourists is an increased use of their mobile device. In an unfamiliar market, they will turn to their smartphone even more frequently than usual for information on the weather, directions, maps, transit information, restaurant recommendations and more.  Considering that consumers are 48% more likely to click on a mobile ad after seeing the brand on out of home media (NeuroInsight: BEYOND OOH, 2015), brand messages can double down by combining OOH with a mobile strategy, like mobile coupons, encouraging tourists to consider sites and events they may otherwise have not been aware of, or had on their calendar.

Don’t forget the area’s events:

Often embedded in the tourist season will be major events that have an additional demographic, population and spend impact, like July 4th celebrations, state fairs and festivals, as well as active concert calendars.  An out of home and market specialist can walk you through the local event calendar that may be of interest, with their accompanying traffic patterns and demographic profiles. At EMC, we view these events as prime opportunities for experiential marketing. Large crowds focused in small areas for short time spans are ripe for consumer engagement programs. Experiences can be tailored to the event to provide a valuable service, useful content and/or interaction.  They create memorable moments with your brand, share socially and provide sales lift during this time. After participating in an experiential marketing event 74% of consumers said they have a more positive view of the brand or product (EventTrack 2016).

Packing up:

There is a significant opportunity for agencies and brands to stay ahead of their competition, deepen their advertising ROI, and differentiate themselves with consumers excitedly exploring their vacation destinations.  You can deliver strong reach with repeated frequency by leveraging OOH and 1-to-1 experiential programs in tourist markets around the country. Be sure to check out our guides to some popular tourist destinations.

We are here to help. Understanding how OOH can make a positive impact as markets change throughout the year is a big part of our expertise at EMC Outdoor.  My team is always available for a discovery session to uncover strategies that will increase 2017’s success for your brands.

Please email me today.  I am eager to help you get this important planning under way now so you can concentrate on the important things, like your own vacation!

Contact us for more information: