With so much information out there about COVID-19, the tourism industry and summer travel, we at Hawkins International want to provide some bite-sized nuggets of wisdom you might not have seen anywhere else. We welcome your comments and suggestions for upcoming blog posts.
We have all heard the mantra. Tourism this summer will be hyperlocal, local or regional. Road trips will be on the rise, while airports will continue to be nearly empty. People will be in search of friends, family and the familiar. They will likely avoid crowded cities, opting for wide open spaces in nature or small town America.
In today’s post, we look at the types of destinations that stand to benefit the most from this summer’s top travel trends.
Homes Away from Home
Let’s start with destinations where (lucky) people commonly have second homes. People largely buy second homes in places that feature notable natural assets. Lakes, oceans, mountains and wooded land all appeal to the second home crowd, particularly as they are likely to live in dense, urban areas. As a result, second home destinations offer just what the doctor ordered this summer–a big dose of nature and open spaces.
Because of their recreational assets, such communities also tend to have a large marketplace of vacation rentals, which many families may prefer over hotel stays this summer. That’s why we foresee places like Nantucket, Massachusetts and Saugatuck, Michigan and Sun Valley, Idaho thriving during the summer. These second home destinations offer just what the doctor ordered for the summer–a big dose of nature and open spaces.
We are already seeing this trend in action. Because people are working from home, many second-home owners who live in big cities have already decamped to their regular summer haunts. And they are staying there 24/7, not just on weekends. Even non-home owners are seeking out longer-term vacation rentals in these areas to avoid crowds. As a result, these summer sunbird destinations are filling up…and once businesses open, the demand will be there….at least for restaurants, retail and activities.
Small is Big
We also see huge opportunities for smaller towns within easy driving range of major metropolitan areas. In the past, some of these burgs may have been overlooked or pooh-poohed by big city folk, who would instead opt to visit sexier spots. But now, city dwellers will be looking at their maps and discovering new places within a six hour radius of home. That’s why we recommend that small communities start getting the word out to their big city “neighbors” ASAP. In developing a list of assets to promote, these places should be focusing on wellness, nature, and small town life.
Furthermore, in order to encourage people to stay a night or two, team up with local partners to develop “stay, do and dine” packages. Bring in retailers, restauranteurs and outfitters. Develop partnerships with your next-door neighbors as well. It is likely that each small town in your area has its own unique selling points. So, don’t view each other as competitors. Instead, share marketing resources, best practices and your visitors. After all, everyone is in the same boat this summer, and the more you work together, that boat is more likely to rise.