Focus on Quality Visitation to Optimize Demand-Gen Efforts

If you could plan the ideal visit to your destination, what would it look like? 

Forget itineraries and travel arrangements for a moment. Instead, consider the visit from the perspective of the destination itself. 

What kinds of visits have the greatest net impact on your community? What kinds of visits boost economic vitality, support a vibrant array of local businesses, avoid the negative effects like overcrowding, and align with your community’s values?

A traveler passing through who simply fills up on food and gas, or someone staying one or two nights in a hotel while they visit family is likely to have a very different impact than a visitor who has planned a multi-day vacation to experience your community.

A quality visit contributes more value than cost to your tourism economy. Defining these quality visits and learning how to influence them is key to optimizing your destination promotion efforts.

Dialing in on the quality focus 

Focusing on quality visits has benefits for any destination — but it’s an especially valuable approach for those destinations that:

  • Have experienced significant visitor growth and are sensing growing friction between visitors and residents in the form of traffic, crowding, or housing availability
  • Are highly seasonal and experience peak seasons that max out available resources
  • Have limited staff or budgets and need to make the most out of every dollar they invest

A quality visit is different for every destination. The definition could even vary within a destination, depending on the needs of its constituent communities, seasonal changes, or established short-term goals, such as driving visitation for a specific initiative.

That said, some common themes often appear in the definition of a quality visit:

  • An overnight or multi-day trip that contributes extended tax revenue and spending
  • Occurs during lower-demand periods
  • Engages with your recommendations of how, when, and where to visit
  • Supports locally owned businesses
  • Provides reasons to return

Defining your destination’s quality parameters 

Although there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are steps any destination can take to hone in on the attributes that make up a quality visit.

1. Zoom out. Look toward your long-term strategic plans. Often these are plans developed in collaboration with other stakeholders including resident groups, elected officials, and local businesses. Are you working to enhance the vibrancy of a downtown district, disperse visitors into rural areas, or advocate for improvements to the local sports complex?

2. Keep your goal in mind. Clearly articulate what you are trying to accomplish or influence. Do you want to drive visitor volume in your downtown area during a shoulder season? Or are you hoping to influence mid-week foot traffic to your town’s main street businesses?

3. Define the experience. How would you like your visitor to experience your destination? Consider the following:

  • When will they travel? (Mid-week or weekend? During a need period? In a specific season? How long will they stay?)
  • How will they move throughout your destination? (What communities or neighborhoods will they visit? What types of places will they go?)
  • How will their visit impact the local economy? (Will they eat at sit-down restaurants or buy fast food? Will they spend money on higher-priced purchases, or will they be traveling on a budget?)

4. Refine your demographic profile. Who is traveling? Will they bring kids along? How old are these visitors, and what is their household income?

Using ZDOS® to take action 

With a solid definition in place, it’s time to turn this plan into an actionable marketing strategy.

The Zartico Destination Operating System® (ZDOS®) provides powerful insights into how people move, spend, and stay within your destination. You can use this destination intelligence to discover the market segments most likely to generate quality visits, then measure your campaign success, report the impact, and use what you’ve learned to kick off the next campaign.

Ready to get started? Here’s a two-minute, two-step ZDOS® exercise to identify the visitor markets likely to meet your goals:


Considering the shift 

Shifting your focus from demand generation (more visitation) to demand optimization (more valuable visitation) invites you to align your efforts with your community’s goals and values. It may also have some unexpected effects on your destination metrics. 

You may see an increase in cost per impression or per click as you target your marketing toward a niche audience. You may also notice a decrease in demand or occupancy during peak seasons as you encourage visitors to travel in shoulder seasons.

These trade-offs are an expected part of playing the long game of attracting quality visitation. The benefit, however, is a balanced visitor economy that contributes to local quality of life and moves your destination forward.

Curious how ZDOS® can shine a spotlight on your opportunities to drive quality visits? Talk to our team today.