For many destinations, appearing on a traveller’s bucket list sounds like the ultimate goal. But I believe this thinking is outdated, and the cons heavily outweigh any benefits in the long term.
While recent research revealed that 69% of Generation Z travellers admit to having a bucket list, 44% stated the reason for writing one was because they simply enjoy thinking about the places they would like to visit one day. In my experience working with international destinations, this research rings true for many demographics and it’s proving harder and harder to attract visitors with the same old marketing messaging.
Time to kick the bucket list
Does a sense of obligation really give people that much-needed kick in the proverbial to book a flight? And is it the smartest move to push that one-off ‘trip of a lifetime’ message? Here are 9 reasons why you don’t want to be on a bucket list and why you want to get on to the to-do-now list instead…
1. There’s no sense of urgency.
Big attractions like Machu Picchu or Stonehenge aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. So it’s all too easy for travellers to put off a visit in favour of something else, especially if the alternative is time-sensitive. Plan your campaigns to encourage people to visit ‘now’ instead of ‘someday’ or risk staying on the bucket list back burner.
2. Today’s list isn’t tomorrow’s list.
The travel tastes you have as a fresh out of university twenty-something might not fit the same ideal two, five or ten years later. Life circumstances change and that prime spot you secured on a bucket list could get shunted further down until it drops off altogether.
3. It’s the same old, same old.
When everyone’s visiting the same iconic destinations, that all-important drive to share is diminished. Embrace the tourism trends for unique experiences and authentic travel by promoting an overlooked hotspot and sharing discoveries from the road less travelled – you’ll give travellers something to come home and spread the word about at their next dinner party or on social media.
4. PR falls flat.
While the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef may be spectacular destinations, repeating a sales pitch for famous attractions that everyone’s heard of a billion times before is likely to leave your PR flatlining. Think of unusual activities or locations that are a little harder to reach, and you’ll be one step closer to scoring that valuable PR buzz.
5. Overtourism is reaching breaking point.
With destinations like the Louvre, Maya Bay and even Kynance Cove in Cornwall becoming victims of their own success, marketing solutions to overtourism are more necessary than ever. Widen the net to focus your efforts on destinations that have so far eluded the limelight – you’ll drive traffic further than the big-ticket attractions and give the most popular areas a break.
6. The hype makes it hard to meet expectations.
Ever watched a TV show that’s been hyped so much, there’s no way it can live up to expectations? Bucket list destinations can be tarred with the same brush. Focus on highlighting more features that make a destination special to prevent its rise and fall resting on one specific experience.
7. You limit your audience.
With just one dish on the menu, you’re closing off a potentially lucrative part of the market – offering one bucket list-worthy attraction has exactly the same effect. Whether you’re pushing a historical location, a foodie experience or beaches designed for doing nothing at all, you could be turning away potential visitors with alternative interests and closing off the possibility of return visits unless you diversify your offering.
8. You’ll end up with a very cold shoulder.
If your bucket list feature is only in vogue at a certain time of year, you could end up with too many visitors at the same time. Redistribute tourism throughout the year by supercharging your campaigns to target shoulder season and off-peak visits. With more affordable prices and fewer crowds to compete with, what’s not to like?
9. Lists feel inauthentic.
Last year, we identified authentic experiences as one of the top tourism trends affecting UK outbound travel this year, so the generalised nature of bucket list destinations flies in the face of what travellers really want. These days people want to discover the facets of a destination that make their holiday feel less mass-produced and more special. All the things working your way down a checklist is not.
To sum up, you’re better off if you bin the bucket list ambition and move your focus to promoting multiple highlights with diverse appeal while encouraging visits throughout the year. To get your destination marketing on the map, get in touch today.
Anthony Rawlins is the Founder and CEO of Digital Visitor and has over 15 years experience in crafting digital and media strategies. He has worked with businesses across the tourism industry, including UK and international DMO’s, global travel companies and attractions. At Digital Visitor, Anthony is responsible for service innovation and works alongside the agencies biggest clients to shape their strategies and to target hard-to-reach audiences.
Anthony speaks at major industry events across the world, sharing his insights and providing thought leadership content. His personal passion is communicating the UK ’s travel offering to the ‘EasyJet generation’, many of whom have travelled the world but have never explored the UK.