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6 Destination Marketing Trends for Your Airport to Drive Passenger Traffic in 2024

7 Dec 2023
Sarah Marks

Remember the excitement you last felt when you discovered a new travel destination, one that perfectly aligned with your interests and dreams? This thrill, this anticipation, is at the heart of destination marketing to inspire potential travellers and ignite their imagination, drawing them into the unique narrative of a place.

When an airport embraces destination marketing, it becomes a storyteller of the hidden gems, exhilarating experiences, and unexplored cultures that await passengers when they leave the airport gates. Incorporating destination marketing into your airport’s strategy opens opportunities to drive revenue through direct bookings not only for flights but also hotels, holiday packages, and other travel-related services directly through your platform.

This approach not only generates additional revenue for airports but also simplifies the travel planning process for passengers, offering them a one-stop solution for all their travel needs.

As you plan your marketing campaigns, let’s explore some key destination marketing trends you should consider to effectively engage today’s travellers.

1. Passengers are travelling to meet others

People are eager to reconnect with loved ones in a world emerging from the pandemic. Airports have a unique opportunity to bring people together and can highlight a destination as an ideal place for people to reconnect.

Showcase reunion activities

Destinations offer activities across a range of reunion types — adventure parks and beaches for family-friendly activities; wine tastings, hiking trails or water sports for adult relatives and friends. Destination marketing campaigns can paint a vivid picture of joyous group experiences waiting at the destination, showing travellers the boundless options for coming together with their loved ones.

Use emotional storytelling

People may forget facts and figures, but stories? Stories have the power to persuade. Airports can create marketing campaigns that share stories of reunions and connections. By using real stories of people making memories at these destinations, airports tap into the emotional core of their audience, making the idea of travelling there not just appealing, but almost necessary. Airports can share heartfelt stories and visuals of travellers making unforgettable memories, bringing these destinations — and all they offer to deepen connections — to life.

Include your airport in their journey

Airports can offer tailored solutions for groups travelling together in the form of welcome packages for groups, family discounts, or special assistance for larger groups. For groups that are coming together from different places, you can promote your airport as the ideal meeting point for families and friends to make the most of layover time. Highlight facilities like lounges, dining areas, or special entertainment zones where people can spend time together before they’ve even reached their destination — making your airport the perfect pit stop on the way to their much-awaited reunion. Include information on your website or in marketing materials about amenities for groups, such as group check-in counters or luggage handling services.

2. Unique off-the-beaten-track escapes

The quest for extraordinary and less explored destinations is gaining momentum. Millennials and Gen Z travellers worldwide are seeking experiences from their travels — 70% of US Millennial and Gen Z travellers are looking for the road less travelled on their trips, while 85% of this demographic in Asia are happy to spend on unique experiences while vacationing. Airports, as the gateways to these extraordinary adventures, can play a pivotal role in guiding these travellers to the experiences they crave.

Promote authentic, local experiences

To unearth truly unique experiences for adventurous travellers, airports can partner with local tour operators who will have insider knowledge on what makes a destination off-the-beaten path. These partnerships can bring attention to accommodations like boutique hotels, eco-lodges, or themed resorts, each offering a distinct and memorable stay.
Airports can highlight lesser-known attractions and local secrets to offer travellers a glimpse into the unique character of a destination. This includes promoting local cultural experiences such as traditional crafts workshops, indigenous ceremonies, or culinary tours that provide an authentic taste of the destination.

Create themed campaigns

Themed marketing campaigns like ‘Hidden Treasures’ or ‘Offbeat Adventures’ can captivate the imagination of travellers looking for something different from their holiday. Focus on developing rich, captivating stories and visuals that can immerse potential travellers in the distinctive qualities of a destination. Think of a series of short films or photo essays capturing the essence of lesser-known locales, from the serene alleys of a quaint village to the vibrant rituals of a local festival. Or dynamic video footage and first-person accounts to bring to life the adrenaline rush of a night hike in a dense forest or the tranquillity of sunrise paddleboarding in a secluded cove.

Airports can design travel packages that pair flights with these unique experiences or accommodations, providing a seamless and exciting travel solution.

3. Highlight eco-friendly and sustainable travel

Sustainability is increasingly at the forefront of travellers’ minds — a 2023 World Travel & Tourism Council report showed that 69% of travellers are actively seeking eco-friendly travel options. Airports have an opportunity to promote destinations that align with these environmental values and cater to this growing segment of eco-conscious travellers.

Spotlight sustainable initiatives in the destination

Airports can create destination marketing campaigns around locations known for their commitment to environmental sustainability. Places with eco-friendly transportation options, like electric vehicle rentals or bike-sharing programs, can appeal to travellers looking to minimise their carbon footprint.

Activities that have minimal environmental impact like hiking and kayaking, along with a focus on the local food scene, such as farm-to-table restaurants, further emphasise sustainable living in a destination. And don’t forget about hotels and resorts that follow eco-friendly practices, such as energy efficiency or sustainable sourcing. Research from Skift showed that 28% of travellers paid more for a sustainable stay option.

Airport’s own green initiatives

Beyond promoting eco-friendly destinations, airports themselves can lead by example through their own sustainability efforts. This includes publicising the airport’s initiatives like carbon offset programs, use of green energy, comprehensive recycling systems, and water-saving measures. Skift’s survey revealed that 25% of travellers paid more for sustainable flights.

4. Bucket list breaks for Gen Z

It’s official: Gen Z wants to travel. With 52% of Gen Z travellers taking leisure trips each year, airports have a golden opportunity to cater to this adventurous demographic that’s keen on exploring the world and ticking off destinations from their bucket list.

Highlight local culture and attractions

Airports can draw Gen Z’s attention by emphasising the cultural richness of destinations. This includes shining a light on local events, festivals, and traditions that offer immersive and authentic experiences. Iconic landmarks and attractions unique to the destination, which often feature on many travellers’ bucket lists, are key selling points. Adding to this, featuring activities like skydiving, scuba diving, or mountain trekking can cater to their love for adventure and thrill.

Offer customisable travel packages

Flexibility and personalisation are key for Gen Z travellers. Airports can provide travel packages that are adaptable, allowing young travellers to tailor their journey according to their bucket list desires. Highlighting budget-friendly options is also crucial, as cost-effectiveness remains a significant consideration for this demographic.

Leverage social media

The power of social media in engaging with Gen Z travellers cannot be overstated. Encouraging them to share their bucket list experiences on platforms like Instagram and TikTok can create a community-driven buzz around a destination. Organising online challenges or competitions can further engage this audience, offering them opportunities to win experiences that align with their travel aspirations. Collaborating with travel influencers who resonate with Gen Z can amplify the destination’s appeal, showcasing real-life bucket list adventures.

5. Hibernation holiday

The concept of a ‘hibernation holiday’ is gaining traction among travellers, especially in the wake of recent global challenges. Many are seeking an escape to warmer climates, looking for a respite from the cold . Airports can cater to this need by marketing destinations as ideal spots for these winter getaways.

Create winter escape packages

Airports can offer specialised travel packages tailored for winter escapes. These could include flights, accommodations, and activities in warmer destinations. Collaborating with hotels and resorts in these destinations could lead to special offers or discounts, making these getaways more appealing.

Highlighting destinations known for wellness retreats or health-focused activities can also resonate with travellers seeking rejuvenation. Additionally, providing flexible booking options can address any lingering uncertainties that travellers might have, making the decision to embark on a hibernation holiday easier.

Use engaging visuals in marketing

Visual appeal is a powerful tool in marketing hibernation holidays. Airports can use vibrant and inviting images and videos showcasing sunny beaches, clear blue waters, and leisure activities to attract travellers. Destinations with tranquil and relaxing environments, such as beach resorts, peaceful islands, or luxury spas, can draw in those looking for a serene escape. These visuals not only entice potential travellers, but also communicate the relaxing and rejuvenating experience awaiting them at these destinations.

6. Offer professional travel booking advice

With 30% of travellers seeking expert guidance for their travel plans, airports have a prime opportunity to become trusted sources of professional travel advice. This shift towards expert-led travel planning presents an opportunity for airports to enhance their service offering from just the transportation hub to a place where customers can book the complete holiday package.

Partner with experts

Airports can establish services where travellers get personalised travel advice and planning help from affiliated experts. Collaborating with local tourism boards — and promoting these collaborations — ensures that travellers know the advice they’re getting is both thorough and relevant. By sharing insider tips about lesser-known destinations, airports can become the go-to places for travellers seeking comprehensive and authentic travel information.

Make the most of your airport’s online resources

Airports can use online platforms smartly to improve the way they share their expert travel advice. Your airport’s website plays a big factor, and you can set up specific pages for each destination, packed with key travel details and unique tips. Offering this information in different languages makes it accessible to a wider range of travellers, helping more people benefit from these insights.

Plan your destination marketing campaigns with Rezcomm

Creating a standout destination marketing campaign means having the right data, a clear plan, and content that really speaks to travellers. It’s also about monitoring how well your campaign is doing. Rezcomm’s Plug-and-Play Marketplace is here to help.

It’s packed with travel, marketing, and customer modules that make it easier to execute your campaigns and analyse data. Plus, our team of travel marketing experts is always on hand to give you tips and support to enhance your airport’s destination marketing efforts. Download our brochure, watch our video, or get in touch to learn how Rezcomm can help you bring the world to your customers with destination marketing.