Episode 107

Interesting Analytics in the IndustryCamden Bernatz

Listen On YouTube

About Our Guest

Camden Bernatz

"In tourism, every destination is simultaneously competing with one another, but also not because next summer they could come to your place, or they could pick a trip after the next one to come to yours. It's interesting because you're always available, you always have a potential audience, but it's when things like this that really make people think about travel in a new way. What are you doing as a destination to put yourself in people's minds in that way?" -Camden Bernatz

Episode Highlights

  • Name: Adam Stoker
  • Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic
  • Favorite Destination: Fiji
  • Dream Destination: New Zealand
  • Name: Camden Bernatz
  • Position: Digital Marketing and SEO Specialist at Relic
  • Favorite Destination: Mexico
  • Dream Destination: Florida

“Interesting Analytics in the Industry” – Show Notes and Highlights

 

Show Highlights:

  • Unexpectedly, some destination website traffic data climbed and skyrocketed during the pandemic. 
  • The type of visitors coming into the website during COVID are not in-market audiences which refers to people who have not shown behavior online that indicates looking to make a purchase of some kind. 
  • There is interesting geographical data that shows interest in the nearest cities and states of the destinations during COVID. 
  • Based on the data, destinations that have the strongest brand also has the biggest increase in traffic. 
  • Adam points out that if you haven’t done the branding groundwork to build an effective brand for your destination, you will find out how unprepared you are when a crisis hits.
  • In tourism, every destination is simultaneously competing with one another, always available, and always has a potential customer. 
  • Three Phases of the Destination’s Marketing Funnel: 
    • Awareness
    • Consideration
    • Purchase
  • The best chance of capturing the traffic from the consideration phase is by using that big rock attraction. 
  • After getting the big rock attraction, work on the visitor distribution plan. 
  • One of the most consistent things during the pandemic across all destinations that increased traffic is the younger generation.
  • Overall, Camden points out that every destination should understand its data.

Episode Transcript

Camden Bernatz: [00:00:00] With tourism, every destination is simultaneously competing with one another, but also not really because next summer they could come to your place or they can take a trip after the next one to come to yours. And so it’s interesting because you’re always available. You always have a potential audience, but it’s yes, when things like this really make people think about travel in a new way. What are you doing as a destination to put yourself in people’s minds that way again?

 

 Adam Stoker: [00:00:25] Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. I’m your host. Adam Stoker got another great show for you today. It’s going to be a little different than the shows that we’ve been doing recently. I don’t have a destination for you today. I’ve got a special guest, though he’s actually a member of my staff here at Relic, and his name is Camden Bernatz, and he is the Digital Marketing and SEO Specialist here at the Agency. And he’s been doing some really unique research across our client base and has some findings that we really want to share with you guys. So, Camden, welcome to the show. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:00:59] Thank you. Happy to be here. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:01:01] I’m excited to have you. You know, I get to see you every day, but then the have you on the show is like it’s a different experience. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:01:06] It’s an honor. I waited for my day. It’s been good. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:01:10] Well, I’m glad to have you. And before we dive into some of the stuff you’ve been working on you listen to the show. I make you listen to the show. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:01:17] Yes, I enjoy it. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:01:19] So tell me about your dream destination. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:01:26] So I don’t have one specific destination. It’s anywhere tropical appeals to me. I like I’ve had this weird phase lately where I’ve been looking at just like these remote islands that I find on Google Maps and, like, learn about them, see what there is this day and plan a future trip someday. So that’s any kind of remote, isolated tropical kind of place that appeals to me. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:01:46] Let’s pick one. Give me an example. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:01:47] Let’s see. I forget some of the more remote ones’ names, but there’s this one little place is it Markasus? Is that you say islands off of the coast of Florida? I think. They – 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:01:59] You know what? You get a pass because I have no idea if that’s how you say it. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:02:01] I might be pronouncing it wrong, but it’s this little island chain. It’s not that far from Florida, but it’s not very as well-known as some of the other destinations and just looks really cool. They have, yeah, lots of nice beaches and just your classical tropical island kind of feel. But that’s a fun one I’ve been looking at lately. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:02:18] Nice. Okay. All right. So your plan when you get to one of those remote islands, is just relax. I’m guessing no phone service is important to you?

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:02:27] Honestly, I like relaxing but I like exploring, too. I want to go hike around the island, see every different side of it, hike the mountain, that there is one. So I like the beaches, but I don’t like just sitting and staying on the beach is I want to go explore what there is and snorkel and do whatever there is to do there, but yeah, I don’t sit still when I’m on vacation usually. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:02:47] Nice. Nice. Okay, alright. I like I feel like I learned something I didn’t know about you Camden after working with you for a long time. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:02:55] Yeah. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:02:55] Okay. What about your favorite trip you’ve ever been on?

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:02:58] They’re kind of similar. Not a remote island, but I probably have to pick kind of the Riviera Maya area of Mexico. Cancun Playa del Carmen. We went to a resort there a year or so ago and did some exploring in the area. Some of the old ruins or cool to loom we went to and some of those [00:03:15] those in the middle of the jungle, there would be a big pool of water that is kind of hidden and I liked exploring that stuff and experiencing the nature aspect of it, as well as kind of to some of the history that the Mayan the things left behind by these ancient civilizations and learning about them and a lot of it, there isn’t as much we know about them. It’s kind of a mystery as well. What’re some of those people are doing or why they were there. Why they left? And so just the culture and history of the area as well is just the outdoor experience. I enjoyed that a lot. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:03:44] Very cool. Sounds like a great trip. And [00:03:46] I’ve seen pictures of them online and stuff and what a phenomenon. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:03:53] Yeah, they’re all connected, a lot of them. That’s the thing. I didn’t realize that they’re not just like one here and there. They’re often underground connected through these cool tunnels and stuff people have explored that. Sometimes they go miles and miles and you pop up in a new [00:04:03] and that’s crazy how it all works. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:04:05]I had no idea. Okay. All right. Interesting stuff. Okay, well, Camden Thanks for coming on today. I want to, first of all, I’ll give some background to this. You sent me an email recently with some of the things that you found. You’ve been monitoring basically website performance for many destinations since COVID hit and you were doing it before, but really you’ve been paying close attention since COVID hit and I started reading the email that you sent to me with your findings. And I said, “Not only do we need to know this, but every destination may benefit from knowing this.” 

 

So tell me a little bit about what led you to start monitoring this on and how you kind of got to the point where you’re like, “Man, I need to take a closer look”.

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:04:49] Sure. Yeah. So being an agency that’s heavily focused on tourism, obviously, we work with a lot of destination clients. And so we’ve developed as our agency is to try to help clients respond to the problems of COVID-19 and getting people to come back when it’s safe and come back in a safe manner. We’ve been offering, I think you’ve talked about it before. A little bit of the launch Triggers Report to help destinations basically decide when is a good time to start advertising for your destination. When is it a good time to invite people to actually come back and how should that messaging be managed? 

 

And so as part of that report, we’ve helped look at people’s at different destinations traffic data to their website because if no one’s coming to your website. It’s probably not an indication they want to come to your destination. And so, in doing that and pulling some of those reports, I noticed a trend kind of happening that was a little bit different than what I expected at least. Back in March, when things really kind of started shutting down and the official pandemic was declared as a pandemic, I would have expected that travel to pretty much fall off the map, which for the most part, it had. It’s been a rough year for tourism. We’ve all been trying to respond to that. 

 

But I didn’t expect some of these destination clients that I looked at their website and look at their data. It’s some of them not only didn’t fall off as far as organic or direct traffic to their website, but they actually climbed and skyrocketed to the point that a few of these have even to this point that recording this podcast now months later have never dropped back down, and they’re getting more traffic to their site than the last 16 months plus. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:06:19] I just want to make sure I ask a clarifying question there. So was that immediate upon like because it was March 17th, when at least in my mind everything kind of went crazy. Was it immediate? Or was there a few-week delay? Or when did the spike in traffic start? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:06:39] Well, that’s what immediate. For the ones that did spike, it was almost immediate. There are a few, and some of the data that I’ve kind of been driving into is to find out which when — the ones that went up in traffic and the ones that didn’t. What’s the difference between those destinations of their websites? So not every website that I looked at saw that. But for the tourism clients who did increase, it was almost right there that same week, mid-March that President Trump, made the declaration that there was going to be some travel shut down to things like that. All of a sudden traffic spiked on for a variety of different travel-related keywords. 

 

And so that initially, I didn’t know exactly why I didn’t have any ideas of who were the people were that coming to the website. I just hadn’t by kind of some guesses, but that was the first thing maybe think I want to look closer at this because this is not what I expected. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:07:25] Okay. All right. So as you dug in, then tell me, like, because you started with that, right? You have the hypothesis that things were going to tank. You actually saw the spike. Tell me about some of the digging that you did and some of the things you found. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:07:38] Yeah. So, first of all, I wanted to look, first of all, what the difference was? Is this like — make sure it’s not a seasonal trend, that I’m just saying the wrong thing and that it’s something that’s unrelated to the virus and the way that affected travel. And all of them consistently started right about the same time. So it seems like the pandemic announcement and its effect on travel was kind of the main catalyst. I’m doing SEO work for these clients and stuff. But I don’t think I could take credit for also in a huge jump for all these clients the exact same month. 

 

So the first thing I wanted to look at is what type of visitors coming to the website. Is it different than normal? Is it someone who wants to actually be traveling right now? Are they just thinking about traveling? Kind of daydreaming about it. So who are these people? And so I dove into Google Analytics, for the most part, which has some data about geography. People are coming to the website from, the keywords they’re using to search the landing pages they land on. And there’s a lot of stuff that I probably would be probably won’t get all too during this interview right now. But for the most part, I looked at demographic information and there’s an element for those who are familiar with Google Analytics. There’s a way you can fill throughout traffic by what’s called in-market audiences or segments, and basically, that refers to people who are if Google determines them to be in-market, that means that they have shown behavior online that indicates throughout you’re looking to make a purchase of some kind, so if someone’s in the market for a vehicle, for example, they’ve been to dealership websites. They’ve been looking at price comparisons. Things like that and Google determines them, probably likely to buy something. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:09:13] So I just want to make sure I clarify that. So when you’re doing that for a destination, the other activity that they’ve been doing, whether it’s in their search activity or sites there visiting things like that, are indicating that they’re in the market to book a trip? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:09:27] Yeah. So, for example, in tourism would be visiting hotel pages or looking at flight plans or things like that and Google keeps that pretty protective for people’s privacy. So I don’t have the exact data everyone who they are, but they can see what people are doing on their search platform, and they can show these other people who are most likely to buy something. And then they also have what’s similar but a little bit different is interest groups. The people who have shown an interest in something but are not in the market for it, like they haven’t gone to the actual purchase type pages or websites. But they’re looking up things about planning or information or how-to videos or things like that. 

 

And so what stood out to me is most of these destinations that had this big increase in traffic right around the pandemic when it finally took hold on travel was that the people who are coming to these websites for the most part weren’t in the market. There were a few. There were still some increases in some specific categories, but for the most part, they weren’t looking to buy right now, but they were very, very interested in travel. Now I don’t want to read too much into that, especially having such a small sample size of just the clients that we work with over here and have access to their website. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:10:34] Sorry, let me clarify one thing real quick for our audience. And that’s that what we do know 100% is like the data. But interpreting that data and saying, “Okay, why is this happening?” There is speculation there, right? Like it’s not like we had a focus group with people that that performed these activities and that we’re able to share the psychographic insights that come along with that, but I do want to make sure people understand the data is what it is. But we are going to speculate a little bit in this conversation what some of those reasons could be. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:11:05] Yeah, we want to help our clients. We want to help destinations understand what they can take from it and obviously with a grain of salt, understanding that it’s our interpretation of it. But yeah, what it seemed to me at least, is showing that there’s a huge increase in interest in travel. But not so much of an in-market segment people who we kind of called in the daydreamers. They’re people who are like not only do they want to travel, but they’re longing for it more than ever. It’s that you want the thing you can’t have right. And so as soon as travel shuts down, whether you either are allowed to go to the place you want to or you just don’t feel like it’s a good idea and isn’t going to be safe. People are just really wanting that thing more. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:11:41] It’s kind of like the marshmallow test right that you do with little kids and you say, “Look, if you don’t eat that marshmallow when I come back, you’ll get two,” and you leave and you come back and they always eat the marshmallow, right? Like it’s kind of the same thing with these travelers. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:11:56] Yeah, exactly. So that was an interesting insight, which is again, maybe hindsight, 2020. Like it makes sense that that’s happening. I just didn’t expect that personally, I thought, okay, people aren’t going to worry about travel until it makes sense to do so. But there wasn’t even a delay for these destinations like mid-March. So, like, “Oh, my gosh, I want to travel now,” and or at least plan to travel and maybe that’s for next year. Or who knows when they’re thinking about going. But they started going to the websites to make their plans or get inspiration pretty quickly, it seems like 

 

Another interesting insight is geography. This one was a little bit more as expected, but drive markets, as we call them the cities and states that are nearest to these destinations saw the biggest increase in this traffic during this time. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:12:39] So that was the hypothesis that I think everybody had. I know I remember talking about it on this show right when Coronavirus hit that drive markets were going to be critical. I think what you’re saying is that the data definitely shows that, I’m not saying just like everybody in the industry said that. So it’s not like I’m taking credit for it. That was a correct assumption. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:12:59] Yes, according to what we have data. There’s definitely an increase. And there is some surprising there’s still some far away states or something like that that might have seen an increase. I saw those for a few different destinations, but that the general overall trend is anything from a bordering state to a US state. If it was a US destination, they all increased. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:13:17] Okay. Interesting. What else did you find, Camden?

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:13:21] Let’s see. So we found that this one again is it has to have some personal evaluation. I guess it’s not so much database, but it’s looking at the data we do have and then making some extrapolations based on that is it would seem that the destination to have the strongest brand also saw the biggest increase. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:13:42] How did you decide that? I’m curious about that. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:13:47] It’s basically the things that you hear about and seeing what that’s about. So that one’s not super data relevant. Should I mention these destinations here?

 

Adam Stoker: [00:13:54] Yeah, absolutely. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:13:55] Okay, So one of them, for example, is we work with Madera County, California, and Yosemite National Park is just a very well-known, national park. Right? And so some of that’s just from what I can see the search volume on Google, for example. How many people are searching for those kinds of keywords and I know that that’s just very popular before the pandemic was already a very popular online destination. People want to go learn about Yosemite National Park, and that’s one of the destinations that shot up really quickly during this time. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:14:23] Okay, here’s the speculation, guys that we talked about that I’m about to throw out here. But I do want to make sure that I do think there are conclusions that you could draw and one possible conclusion is I think a lot of people realized their mortality right when the pandemic hit and all of a sudden everybody’s bucket list got a lot more important, right? And so you’ve got these big brand keywords or destinations that people have been thinking, “Oh, I’d love to go there sometime,” and the pandemic hits and it’s like, “I’m going to get serious about my bucket list,” right? So I don’t know I wonder if that’s a new insight and we have to do focus groups to make sure that that’s correct or a survey or whatever. But if that’s the case and you are a bucket list destination, to me that says I should talk about myself that way. And maybe my messaging should say, everybody says, “Now is the time.” But now how do you say that in the right way that it resonates with what’s motivating the consumer to focus more on that keyword now than ever before? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:15:35] Yeah, yeah, exactly. Another one who is not a client of ours. But I did some Google trends research to just see across Google, what types of destinations are people typing in searches for, and one of the highest spikes for any of them again following the pandemic kind of timeline was Yellowstone National Park, which people know is outdoor social distance. It’s also a very strong brand name. Everyone knows about that place, and it’s usually on someone’s bucket list. And so that was another destination that actually according to Google’s data, didn’t drop off far as traffic but shot up, and his more people searching for that last few months than ever before, it seems like. So that’s another indication that also would indicate that people are trying to social distance. That’s these aren’t like little small, crowded areas. They’re big open expanses but yeah people are thinking kind of those main — when you think about travel, what pops in your head without any advertising necessarily like you just know about that place. Those are the things people were going and searching for more than other places. 

 

We had some other clients who didn’t totally tank or drop off the map as far as online traffic, but they were maybe smaller or newer to marketing themselves. Maybe not as nationally recognized currently, and they didn’t see the same level of spike. So that’s it again, our interpretation of it. But I think that would be a good assumption to make this brand helps. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:16:52] Yes, exactly. Your closing line of their brand helps. For me, if you haven’t done the groundwork that it takes to build an effective brand for your destination, you find out how unprepared you are when a crisis hits and these big-name destinations are growing because they’re on the bucket list and your destination isn’t necessarily getting the same spike in traffic. You haven’t made it onto the bucket list. So how can we build your brand as a destination and get you on the list? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:17:26] Yeah, tourism is interesting because ever since coming to Relic I’m really focusing on that from a marketing perspective. It’s interesting because it’s different than other industries where if I’m selling shoes and you need one pair of shoes, you’re going to buy my product or someone else’s, and then you’re kind of done until your shoe workout, right? But tourism every destination is simultaneously competing with one another, but also not really because next summer they could come to your place where they can pick a trip after the next one to come to yours. 

 

So it’s interesting because you’re always available. You always have a potential audience. But it’s yes, when things like this really make people think about travel in a new way or their timeline changes or they think about their own mortality, like you said. What are you doing as a destination to put yourself in people’s minds in that way, I guess? I don’t know how to say that exactly. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:18:17] No, I think what you’re saying ties in with the marketing funnel right. The marketing funnel has three phases, and there are a million different variations of it. But the way we look at it is awareness, consideration and purchase. And the way I look at what you’re seeing with this website traffic that you’ve been examining is a lot of people went straight to the consideration phase when the pandemic hit because they’re like, “Okay, we need to go to a place we’ve always wanted to go to, or a place we can socially distant, some of these wide-open spaces,” right? But the problem is, if you hadn’t been in the awareness phase and hadn’t made them aware of your destination, you didn’t get to participate as much in the consideration phase that happened nor the purchase phase that comes next, right?

 

Once again, I want everybody understands this is some speculation here, and there’s some research that would be needed to be done in order to confirm some of the speculations we’re drawing from this, but I don’t think it’s difficult to build that bridge that if your traffic didn’t spike, you’re one of two things. You’re either an urban destination that people are afraid to go to right now or have been afraid to go to or your brand wasn’t well-known enough to make it onto the consideration list. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:19:31] That’s a good way to put it, and understanding this is a very small sample case study, whatever you want to call it. But I hope what I want to share people with not so much that we found definitive proof of exactly what we’re thinking about. But what I would want to do is encourage destinations to look at these things for themselves because as we’re all trying to figure out how to increase or recover as far as tourism goes. If you are a destination that seeing these huge spikes, it would indicate people are there wanting to come. So as soon as it’s safe to do so, and you have the ability to handle them, market to them. Tell them to come, show them what to do. If you’re not and people are dropping off as far as visits to your website, for example, that means you maybe need a message a little bit differently. Maybe you need to help gain trust as far as showing the safe things you’re doing or just doing things to get on the map if you’re not there 

 

So I don’t know, it’s all depending on who you are as a destination. But I just want to encourage people to not just wait and then assume things are going to be the same when travel picks up again. This has changed where people look about travel, and so prepare yourself for that. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:20:31] Well, let’s talk a little bit about our process then, because we’ve got clients that fall into both of these categories, right? The some with the travel spike and some that didn’t have the excuse me, the traffic spike and some that didn’t have the traffic spike. Well, for the ones that had the traffic spike, if it’s me and we’ll use Madera County that you brought up as the example, right? We have several international parks that we work with, but we’ll use that one. With Madera County, the search volume is related to Yosemite National Park, right? Like that’s what’s happening. 

 

If I’m Madera County, California and I’m not overloaded with visitation right now, which some national park. So, for example, I chatted with the Smoky Mountain National Park, Jackson County, North Carolina. I chatted with them, and the moment the lockdown ended, they were breaking records and they broke every room tax generation record that they had ever had the three months following the lockdown. So we’re talking like May, June, July, right? And it may have been June, July, August. I can’t remember. It was one of those two. But since the lockdown ended and I look at that and I say, “Okay, well, if there’s a destination that sees the spike in volume traffic and they’re not experiencing these record-breaking times, my advertising is shifting entirely to advertising the national park,” right, because we know that that’s what people are looking for right now. And unless you’ve got a traffic problem or too many people. 

 

Look, everybody needs to be represented in your tourism advertising. The real challenge that we have is that the politics of every destination is that all the stakeholders want to be represented. But the low-hanging fruit right now is those highest search keywords. And if we are trying to keep the businesses within our destination open and give them the support that they need, the best chance of capturing the traffic from that consideration phase is by using that big rock attraction like the national park. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:22:30] Exactly. Another good example of that is that we work with San Juan County, Utah, which is Monument Valley a covered part of that county, and that’s kind of one of their main draws, or as far as a keyword organic traffic perspective. And I do work on their website, and so I’ve been seeing their data for about a year now, and starting in March, almost all of their top 10 keywords that drive traffic are things like is Monument Valley open? Can I travel the Monument Valley? When is Monument Valley going to be available? Monument Valley COVID-19. Things like that. It’s all Monument Valley, which is good and the bad thing. 

 

You want to repeat all your county. You want people to come for other reasons as well. But like you said, if that’s what gets them there, then make sure that your Monument Valley page, for example, is directing to local lodging options or restaurants or other nearby attractions that are safe to visit. Just as an example is using the traffic that’s coming in and help show them what to do. But use that is like what you’re promoting. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:23:22] Get him there with the big rock attraction and then work on your visitor distribution plan once they get there or during the trip planning phase. So, for example, if I use let’s use Monument Valley. If I use Monument Valley to get them to book the trip, I should be sending a follow-up email with a get off the beaten path itinerary for them to help them plan their trip right so some interesting things that you can do and on the example that you use with Monument Valley, the thing that stands out to me is those questions like these are questions, “Is it open? Can I visit? How do I?” Whatever, right? 

 

And I look at that should our advertising than be answering those questions proactively? Should our Facebook ads say, “Monument Valley is open.” Right? Or it is safe to visit? Here’s how. Click through to find out how. Or maybe we create a piece of content called The Traveller’s Guide to Monument Valley. Right? And we start we know there are questions. I mean, those are the search keywords, right? So how do we build our content or our advertising plan to match the answers to those questions? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:24:35] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And that’s something that’s going to be — data is going to be a little bit different for every destination. So, yeah, look at the keywords. What are people searching that lands them on your page? Is it more of I’m ready to come now? Type of messaging. If so, tell them to come down on how to do it. If they seem to be more kind of hesitant than the daydreamers that are thinking about travel, then that message is going to change again. 

 

But yeah, by knowing that information, the traffic alone to your website, you still need to break that down, understand where it’s coming from. Why, why they’re coming. One other thing I want to share as well, I found is looking at demographic information was also the difference in age and how the generational differences and as far as what they’re looking for when they’re coming. So I looked at three different counties of those three that I initially found that had jumped up in traffic and looked at the age breakdown as far as the generational difference and how they came to the website or if they increased or decreased. 

 

One of the most consistent things across all destinations that increase in traffic is the younger generation was the highest increase. So the 18 to the 24-year-old age group were the ones that came to the website and a greater boosting percentage of visits year every year, and they were also the ones that were more commonly in the market to make a purchase. So if anybody was looking to actually travel now, it was the 18, 24-year-old group. For example, we talked about Madera County, California, just to pull their data really quick for the 18 to 24-year-old age group. Year over year. For March to October is when I pulled data from, there was a 448% increase in visits from 18, 24-year-olds in that time. 

 

For another county in Utah, I looked at it was up 158%. And for that Monument Valley San Juan County 18, 24-year-olds came to the website 659% more year over year than they were previously. So they definitely are most eager to travel. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:26:33] Let me jump in. The thing that’s interesting to me about that is there’s a lot of destinations that have built their brand marketing to the baby boomer crowd, right or even the next generation upright. And while that served them well, up until this point I think the likelihood of those two generations traveling as much you’re seeing it with the website traffic right they’re kind of slowing down on their searches and things and the younger generations traffic is increasing. 

 

So now as a destination, I need to be looking at my tactics. I need to be looking at my messaging. I need to be looking and making sure that I understand how Gen Z visits versus how the baby boomers used to visit and am I promoting my destination in the way that’s going to set me apart? And there’s a big question right now. Sorry, I want to get back to this, but I’m going to go off on a tangent here. But there’s a big question right now about should I be marketing? Is it safe to market? I would say that this data says these people are going to be booking trips like they are searching. They want to travel, right? So can I, in my destination responsibly support that traffic?

 

My businesses that have contributed so much to my customer experience in order for them to survive, we need to have them make some money in this process, right? And so if these people are going to book a trip they’re in the consideration phase, why not us? Why not here as a destination? So I think the balance between safety and sustenance, I think, is what I said in another episode that the balance between safety and sustenance in order to successfully accomplish that, I think the focus should be on making your product safe, but still get the visitation, right? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:28:33] Yeah, they want to come, but they want to be taken care of as well like they want to travel responsibly. And they want to make sure that it’s a responsible destination to go to, right? So help them see, yes, you can come. And here’s the ways we’re making it safe. So don’t lie about it. Obviously, make it safe for them to come, but then help communicate that because they want a reason that they think it’s a good idea to come to your destination. So help put them at ease and show them all the great things to do while being responsible. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:28:57] Got it. Okay. All right. That was a little tangent. Let’s get back to those three counties. Is there anything else you found there that you wanted to talk about?

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:29:06] Just that – not anything specific. I just kind of I tried to think through this data, and it was just taking me a couple of months of looking at it to put my thoughts together. But overall, if I could just kind of sum up the I guess recommendations, you could say the things to think about for your destination whoever might be listening is, first of all, understand your data. If you haven’t looked at it, you should be. You’re missing out on insights if you haven’t looked at those things. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:29:31] But do you have to be like a data scientist to really interpret Google Analytics well? I mean how do you do that? 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:29:38] Well, yeah. So I mean, the more you know obviously it helps, but Google was very user-friendly and I refer to Google because they’re kind of the king of search engines online. I mean, there’s information you can get from others as well. But Google Analytics and Google Search console or two tools that integrate together that will show you most of your traffic is going to be coming from Google, and they make it pretty easy. There are just tabs that you can click on that show audience insights, break it down by location, by demographic, by the keywords being used, things like that. And so as long as you kind of know what a keyword is or what a demographic qualifier might be that you could just click on that and look at it so it’s not too difficult. 

 

So yeah, I’d say, make sure you’re doing that or get someone who is better than you. Add it to look at it and help interpret it for you. And then again, as far as the insights that from this kind of small sample case study we’ve done, is that drive markets of course they’re important and continue to be so more than perhaps ever before during 2020 and I’m sure into the next year the younger demographic seems to be most eager. Not that the other ones aren’t also looking to travel, but definitely more so never before the importance of reaching young people is key right now. 

 

Then also the fact that there are two different kinds of people who are interested in travel right now. There are those looking to travel as soon as they can. They book a flight tomorrow, and there are those who don’t want to travel right now because they know that they don’t feel like it’s safe or they just aren’t ready to do so. Or maybe they’ve had financial setbacks this year, whatever it might be. But they really are wanting to plan a trip sometime, and that messaging might be different. 

 

If your traffic is looking to come now, help them come now and do so safely. But maybe you have a big interest in your destination, and you just can’t — they’re not going to actually come in and book a trip right now. How do you want to talk to them? How do you want them to prepare? Or is that sending a trip planned our itinerary type thing as opposed to specific hotel information, or I don’t know. I’m just making up examples, but that messaging might be a little bit different depending on what kind of destination you are. 

 

And then there’s the third type I guess we talked about, which is maybe they’re not interested at all right now. Not ideal. But then that’s going to be different messaging as well. Get them to just think about you and as far as the avenues that you’re taking to get your brand out there, the messaging, the calls to action that will all be dependent on that data. But if you’re not looking at the data you don’t know who you should be speaking to how to do so. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:32:03] Yeah, I think it’s critical to be reviewing this data on a consistent basis, right? Whether that’s in a monthly Google Analytics report or what, and then once you review, it’s important to pull the lever like and there’s the leverage you can pull. So let’s talk about a few of those first ones that we talked about early in the conversation was, if you need to strengthen your brand and so if you’re seeing that your search volume is not spiking like some of these big brands are, to me that says I’ve got brand work to do, right? 

 

So one of the things that you could do, maybe it’s time for a rebrand. If you’ve been targeting baby boomers and even the older generation for years and years and years, maybe it’s time to refresh that visual identity to appeal to a younger audience. The other level that I think you can pull is in your messaging, right? And then in your content strategy, how do I, for example, when that high search volume is coming in on a Yosemite National Park, how do I still work on a visitor distribution plan that doesn’t overload these small parts of my destination that get 90% of the traffic? 

 

And then I think the last lever you can pull is tactics changing tactics, right? If you see that your audience has got a 600% jump in Generation Z, maybe it’s time to try TikTok. To me, those are the levers that I think you can pull right now, right? Is brand messaging tactics, and you need to use the data to decide what the best lever is to pull and how to do it. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:33:46] Yeah, well said. Yeah, it’s easier said than done, of course, but that’s the work to be done right now. There may be destinations who, like you said, have had kind of the same type of audience or visitor for years and in the past and now that might have changed. Or whether it’s a long-term change or temporary. It’s to be seen. But 2020 is a year to just revisit all that stuff because it’s changed the way we travel or don’t travel. But yeah, yeah, exactly. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:34:14] Camden, nice work, man. I mean, what a good piece of deep dive that you’ve done here. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:34:21] Thanks. Yeah. For what it’s worth, I mean, there’s nothing else, I hope because people thinking about this stuff for their own destination. But yeah, it was interesting for me to go through. And if nothing else, it helped me realize that we shouldn’t just assume the way things were going to affect our industry some of it might seem obvious looking back, but like I just wouldn’t have expected that we saw such an increase. Not only did that they stay study, but an increase in interest in travel as a result of this and so things to be looking for. Prepare yourself for the next worldwide pandemic or whatever it shakes up the industry. But the more we prepare, the better will be to respond to it obviously. 

 

Adam Stoker: [00:34:56] Awesome. Well, thanks Cam, appreciate your time. 

 

Camden Bernatz: [00:34:58] Thank you. Appreciate it. 

Adam Stoker: [00:34:59] All right, everybody. This has been another great episode of the Destination Marketing Podcast. If you heard something interesting, don’t wait. Act on it now. And thanks for listening. We’ll talk to you next week.