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Whether it be an educational excursion or an adrenaline-filled trip to a local attraction or theme park, the days out industry is one which relies on the quality and variety of activities offered by a location or destination, and on the demand of consumers and what appeals to different target groups and demographics.
For the industry which offers, advertises and runs various days out, there are two main target groups which can be reached through different marketing streams:
When you look at who is engaging in organised and structured days out, these two main groups can be broken down further; encompassing the educational and teambuilding activities offered to school groups and visits, the fun-filled weekend and holiday offerings for families, days out for adults and those with older children, and individual experiences which incorporate a variety of different hobbies and interests for more targeted days out.
As an industry, one of the main methods of advertising is through network sites and central activity hubs, especially those used by both local communities and tourists to ascertain what is going on in a particular area. From experience marketplace sites like Virgin Experiences and Red Letter Days, to direct websites, community pages and social media, the ways in which Days Out providers reach their audience varies with the experience and organiser – with many using package deals and seasonal discounts in order to drive demand all year round.
When looking for a unique gift, experience days and day trips have grown a vast following thanks to the popular idea that memories create much gift than products alone. Playing on the very human ideology that memories last a lifetime and that time spent together is the best present an individual can give, days out have become much more than spontaneous decisions made by families with nothing to do – in fact, the demand for activities at various points during the year has grown so much that many attractions from theme parks to zoos, museums and heritage sites now offer different one-day package deals to meet the demand of that audience and create an entire industry from the need for days out and days spent together.
That’s not to say that every day out experience has to be something expensive or attraction-based. In fact, the days out industry encompasses not just the ticket-based activities but also those which are entirely free such as open gardens and day walks that families and groups can enjoy together – but how do these kinds of free experiences and activities prop up an industry which is still based around sales and profits, and drawing in captive consumers?
This is where location comes in – and is why the days out industry is so focussed on locals and tourists on an equal measure. In the summer months and during holiday periods, tourist areas and communities rely on the influx of visitors to keep their small businesses and local shops going – and it is the walks and free activities advertised as local days out which will then see these consumers trekking into the pubs and small community shops after their walk. What this side of the industry does is use free experiences and activities to draw tourists and visitors to an area, on the basis that during their day out they will use the local facilities, enjoy the local cafes and restaurants, and finish their day at the local pub – as such, the day out itself forms part of an entire tourist market trend.
Meanwhile, the local communities are those which use and experience various days out offerings throughout the rest of the year – with a large target market group being school visits, especially across those days out which offer educational and interactive learning. Great examples of these kinds of days out which appeal to school groups include local farm visits and local gardens – with the visits offering organisers a chance to upsell their various products to captive consumers during and after the visit.
In short, the days out industry may look like a minor marketplace on the surface, but when you dig below the surface and start to join the experiences up with the opportunities for local upselling and marketing, it becomes clearer where the true value in the days out industry lies.
As with every other industry – both high end and otherwise – a great deal of success comes from the ways in which operators and businesses advertise and reach out to their target audience. Similarly, to the marketing of specialist experience days and package deals, imagery remains one of the most effective methods of showcasing various experiences, with social media and online videos proving to be some of the best ways of engaging target consumers and interacting with consumers. To reach the local audience, community social pages are a good way for days out operators to highlight and showcase their deals and offerings, with seasonal discounts and consistent messaging both driving demand. When it comes to reaching a tourist market, operators are best setting themselves up on tourist blogs and activity pages – for example listing their days out experiences on the “What’s On” pages of different counties and towns, putting adverts on tourism sites and blogs, and listing seasonal deals across holiday resorts and parks.
Another good way of marketing days out to tourists in particular is through partnering with those local resorts and holiday accommodation options – providing discounts to guests of specific resorts if those resorts agree to include advertising on their website and social pages, and as part of their guest welcome pack.
And then there is the simple value of word of mouth recommendation and target market research. Some of the most effective days out combine the use of online and social marketing with much more personal interaction within their local area – hanging out and sending out leaflets, getting in touch with tour groups and school groups, and using larger events as a means of advertising and even offering sneak peaks into what consumers can expect to find if they come and enjoy a specific day out experience.
Of course, much of this advertising rides on what the day out involved – whether it is educational or fun; historical or futuristic – as it is this which will determine the experience’s suitability to various demographics and group audiences.
And when it comes to finding and locating those perfect experiences and days out for various groups, one of the best ways of narrowing down the options is through a marketplace site which is dedicated to advertising and marketing – and supporting the booking of – all manner of different days out. The site ‘daysout.com’ is one which currently operates through a website and dedicated app, giving consumers a central hub from which they can explore the various days out options according to location and other filters such as group size and interest – and also promises the best deals and the cheapest attraction tickets available.
From beaches to forests, cafes to restaurants, and theme parks to zoos and historical houses, the perfect day out for one consumer might vary hugely from what is considered a great day out by another. It all comes down to the way that a day out experience is marketed, what is included or featured as part of a package, and what kind of interests it taps into.
One the one hand, consumers have a choice of days out which offer standard activities which are designed to appeal to the widest possible audience. Some of the best examples of these kinds of days out include:
On the other hand, the days out industry is also rife with options for those with slightly more targeted preferences and active interests. Some of these kinds of days out include:
One of the major trends which has always played its part in the attractions, experience days and days out industry is the importance of different days of the week – and the shift in focus of the industry across holiday periods. The fact is that many days out and attractions appeal to family groups – many of whom are engaged in work and school activities from Monday to Friday during term time. What this means is that not only is demand concentrated on the weekends and school holidays for many days out and attractions operators, but also that those working hours and school days are less busy – and thus operators need to find different ways of filling their sites during those less popular hours. One of the ways that many days out providers are overcoming this is by offering and advertising school visits – creating educational and interactive experiences which introduce younger consumers to their sites, though of course this is only relevant for the section of days out which can be regarded as educational or supportive of children’s development. Another way that various operators can overcome the weekday lull in demand is by offering off peak tickets and entry fees – an especially effective marketing tool for ticketed attractions like theme parks and zoos which are able to drive increased demand during their quieter periods by simply making it cheaper for consumers who are able to visit to do so.
Another trend hitting the days out industry is the demand for experiences and sites which offer an all-round experience. Consumers no longer want to have to plan in advance and bring a packed lunch for the whole family with them on a day out – rather, the preference now is for those days out and experiences which either provide some kind of lunch as part of a ticketed entry fee, or else which have on-site cafes and stores where consumers can purchase lunch, snacks and other refreshments. As a trend, this is one which helps prop up the industry during the quieter periods as it increases the chance to upsell to those consumers who do come and engage in the experience during quieter periods, and it also creates more of an experience that can be marketed through social media and other marketing channels. In essence, the more a site or day out operator has to offer, the better their chances of being noticed by captive consumers looking for things to do in certain areas.
And then we have the trend which links with the former concept of offering food and drink – only this time it is an offering which lasts a little longer. Souvenir and gift shops. In the modern world, a day out is not complete without the purchase of a fridge magnet or a branded homeware gift, and it is these kinds of upsold products which help various days out and experiences stand out and stick in the memories of their consumers. Whether it be a heritage site, a natural garden site, a theme park, a beach or even just a quaint town or village, consumers now more than ever are likely to look for something to take home with them to commemorate the day – and those sites and operators who serve this demand with a small gift shop are likely to succeed at driving a returning consumer base, simply based on the fact that the fridge magnet or postcard in their home will remind them of their day out and may well encourage them to visit again.
When we look at the days out industry as a whole, it can be a challenge to piece together all the different sectors, providers and operators who exist within this vast industry. Days out are not limited to those attractions and parks that you buy entry to – rather they expand far beyond the ticketed sites, including everything from known walking routes to pub crawls and historic sites. What brings them all together as one industry is the power of commercialisation and the ways in which these sites create demand and generate profits through upsold products and package deals.
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