Marketing to Tourists and Travelers

couple waiting for the train
Nigel Rodgers
Nigel Rodgers
May 26, 2015
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Over the past few years there has been a big debate over the differences between a traveler and a tourist. Some people can characterize the distinctions between travelers and tourists while others believe there are no concrete differences between the two. As a hotelier, one must recognize the variations between the two and market to each one appropriately. Though a few people disagree, there are some cultural differences between those who are tourists and those who are travelers.  A tourist is similar to a visitor while a traveler is more likely to immerse themselves into the area they’re travelling to. Hotels receive both of these guests, so it’s important to know how to accommodate them.

It is imperative to understand the perceived differences between a traveler and a tourist. On the site Traveling 9 to 5, there is an infographic that breaks down the differences between the two. Travelers tend to blend in more while tourists stick out. Travelers also don’t like to visit heavy-trafficked tourist attractions and would instead prefer to spend time with the locals. In his article Are You a Traveler or a Tourist? John Leonard states that the biggest difference between a traveler and a tourist is time. Travelers tend to spend a minimum of 1 month on a trip while a tourist tends to spend a maximum of 3 weeks on a trip. Tourists frequently work with itineraries and have a strict schedule while travelers are more free and open with their plans. The goal of a traveler is to learn and experience new things. The goal of a tourist is to visit popular attractions and photograph their experiences. As mentioned above, these attributes aren’t definite and some people may display traits of both categories. Regardless, hoteliers should understand what their guests are looking for and how to appeal to them.

Marketing to a traveler and marketing to a tourist require different approaches. A tourist is going to be more interested in popular locations and attractions. Feature blogs and posts on your site informing guests about the hot spots near your hotel. List places that draw large crowds and would be good for pictures. Also provide these guests with itineraries and transportation information. Travelers want to experience the “real” version of an area. They usually want to mingle with the locals and travel off the beaten path. For these guests, provide information and history on the area around your hotel. Also provide locations and pictures of smaller towns filled with culture that represent the everyday lives of the natives. A printable map of the city or town on your website would also draw travelers. Remember, tourists want the common experience while travelers are looking for something rare.

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