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2020 Travel Trend: The Return of the Road Trip

Last updated on July 16, 2020
10 minute read
Key Takeaways

  • The significance of the road trip's comeback
  • What you can do to attract customers on a road trip

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Travel has changed in some very unexpected ways in 2020, and new trends are sure to emerge and remain even after we’re able to travel the world again. One trend that has resurfaced and is gaining in popularity is the road trip. According to a recent survey conducted by the travel media company Skift, two-thirds of Americans expect to resume travel with a road trip (May 2020). 

Many of us have at least one fond memory of a road trip with our family as kids, or with friends in college. Virtually since the invention of the automobile, the road trip has provided a way for families and friends to take a break from the day-to-day and get out of town. What’s more, road trips allow for unplanned fun and adventure, where people stop along the way and make last-minute decisions about where to stay and what to do.

This guide explores what the road trip trend might look like this year, why people are motivated to get on the road, and some things you can do to attract road-trippers during their vacation!

a close up of a logoPromote Remote Accommodations 

One of the deterrents for travel right now is the idea of being in a crowded space – whether that is a hotel lobby, a dining room, a pool, or another high-traffic area. If you offer accommodations such as campsites or cabins that give guests plenty of space of their own, this will attract road-trippers who are looking for a place to stay and want to avoid hotels or other areas where they would be in close proximity with other guests. Make sure to promote your accommodations on social media and other marketing channels, using a clear value proposition that communicates why it’s safe and convenient to stay with you.

a close up of a logoClearly Communicate Safety Policies

Safety will be top of mind for anyone going on a trip in the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to sanitation and cleanliness. Travelers looking for an exciting tour or activity will in part make their decision based on what steps the operator is taking to keep their customers safe, such as limiting group sizes, cleaning equipment between uses, limiting staff at their office, and making sure everyone is wearing masks. It’s important to clearly communicate your company’s guidelines on your website and on any communications regarding their tour, such as confirmation emails. You can read more about this on our guide to providing safe experiences

a close up of a logoMarket Private Tours and Small Group Packages

As much as we want to be around other people right now, the reality is that large groups continue to be a safety issue. Road-trippers are more likely to feel safe taking a tour with the people they’re traveling with and limiting their exposure to larger groups. Your private offerings are sure to be the most popular during this time, so be sure to feature them prominently on your website and promote them on your marketing channels. Travelers on a road trip are probably looking for a good deal on tours and activities as well, so offering group discounts or creating a promo code is a great way to attract more customers. 

a close up of a logoTry Good Old Fashioned Marketing Tactics

While you hear us talk quite a bit about the benefits of digital marketing, other more traditional marketing techniques such as brochures and radio ads can come in handy when it comes to attracting road-trippers. For example, by leaving fliers or brochures at local rest stops near your area you have an opportunity to catch the eye of travelers who are stop by and are looking for a fun activity in town. Similarly, a radio ad may capture a listener’s attention if they’re tuned into the local radio station while driving through your area. You could also get creative and create posters to display at trailheads for adventurers to see. Make sure to promote your group discounts or mention your safety guidelines in these materials, and prominently display your website address where travelers can go to learn more and make a booking. 

a close up of a logoGet Local With PPC Spending

Of course, digital marketing will continue to be crucial to help you target travelers when they’re in your city. We know travelers use their smartphones while on vacation to find things to do, share photos on social media, and more. One useful tactic to capture these customers while they’re on their phone is to set a nearby radius for your PPC ads. For example, consider selecting only your city as the ‘target location’ when setting up your Google Ads, or expand your reach somewhat to include nearby cities and those who may be driving through. Geo-targeting not only helps you reach qualified customers, but it can also save you money by making sure you do not waste clicks or impressions on people who are unlikely to book with you because they are too far from your location. Keeping it hyperlocal is cost-effective and can result in higher conversion rates. 

a close up of a logoUse Keywords and Blogging

Planning in advance is more important than ever for travelers, as they want to make sure their trip can be done safely and they can still have a blast. Keywords will be more important than ever to help attract customers during the planning phase, when they’re searching for everything from where to stay to what to do on their trip. Start with conducting keyword research and Google Trends research to find the keywords relevant to your business that travelers are searching for, and optimize the appropriate pages on your website.

You might also find some great blogging topics during your keyword research, and this is a good opportunity to expand your brand visibility. Blog topics like “best places to visit on a road trip in [your state or city]” and “how to plan a safe road trip” are not only a useful service to your readers but also another way to gain brand visibility. 

For many, 2020 is the year to finally take that trip to the Grand Canyon, or head to a river a few hours outside of the city for a white water rafting trip, or finally take that drive from the Netherlands to Belgium and France. After being confined to their homes for months, travelers are itching to get out and explore in a way that will be safe to them and others, and still allows them to create lasting memories – whether it’s on a family road trip, a camping trip with friends, or even a solo excursion.

The return of the road trip is a great opportunity for your business to attract new customers and make the best of this travel season, even if it looks vastly different from what we’re used to. As our industry quickly shifts, it’s important for businesses to adapt and find new ways to accommodate travelers who still want to explore and enjoy their summer in a safe way. Try out a few of these tips and welcome road trippers to enjoy the great things your company has to offer! Lifelong memories are sure to be made for both you and your guests. Explore other ways in which travel is changing on our industry insights guides.

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