Savvy vacation destinations woo moms to come there
Posted: Thursday, April 22, 2010 8:02 pm
By BONNA JOHNSON
NASHVILLE (AP) — Among those who’ll get the first look at a new wave pool and lazy river float at Nashville Shores before the twin attractions officially open later this year will be a group of mom bloggers.
At a time when mothers make most decisions about family vacation spending, it looks like a smart move to go after the motherly demographic as vacation hot spots strive for a rebound in sales after a poor 2009 travel season.
“Moms are key to helping travel rebound and will determine when our recession is really over,” said Jamie Dunham, a BOHAN Advertising Marketing executive and expert at Nashville-based WhyMomsRule.com, which tracks moms’ buying habits and related trends.
A recent survey by the Web site shows that most moms are eager for family vacations this year after making cutbacks and staying home last year. Some 80 percent of those in the survey said they’ll sacrifice dining out, other entertainment and big-ticket purchases to pay for family getaways.
Tourism professionals have shaped their marketing budgets to take advantage of the trend.
Pigeon Forge’s television and print ad campaign that began last month is geared to appeal to moms’ sentimentality.
“Our message is that you need to take your vacation now because your kids graduate from (the family) vacation at some point, just like they graduate from high school and college,” said Leon Downey, director of tourism for the city of Pigeon Forge, the tiny town that’s home to Dollywood in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains
The TV spots show a family visiting familiar attractions around Pigeon Forge and aging over the years.
“The message will resonate with moms that kids grow up pretty quickly, so families need to make those memories while they can and while the kids are young,” Downey said. “There’s a point when it won’t be cool to hang out with mom and dad anymore.”
Tourism revenue at Pigeon Forge was down 4 percent in 2008 and slumped 8 percent last year.
“We know that moms are the travel planners,” said Susan Whitaker, commissioner of the state Department of Tourist Development. “In selecting a destination, they want to be heroes to their entire family, so they look for places that have a variety of things to do for their husbands and children, as well as themselves.”
The state advertises its parks system, along with other resorts, inns, cabins and campgrounds in women’s magazines such as Southern Living, said Charles Brewton, director of marketing for Tennessee State Parks.
“That’s smart for them to target moms,” said Lane Thompson, 41, a Brentwood mother with a 13- and 10-year-old. “Mom is the one who gets things planned.”
This year, her family has scheduled a beach vacation in Florida and possibly a trip to Washington, D.C. “The kids are at a good age to see the monuments and Smithsonian,” Thompson said.
Vonda Broyles of Antioch said she has done all the planning for her family’s vacation to Disney World. “Moms know what they want, and they’re the organizers,” said Broyles, who has three children ages 14, 10 and 8. “Everybody looks up to mom to get it done.”
A third of moms in the survey plan to spend less money on vacations, and many expect to take shorter trips this year. While vacationing, they also plan to eat out less, stay in less expensive accommodations and pick less-pricey destinations.
Adina Milligan, 31, of Spring Hill has planned a beach vacation in June in North Carolina for her family. The expectant mom, her husband and 2-year-old son chose the beach over Louisville, Ky., because friends offered their beach house at no cost.
She also is on the lookout for good deals in magazines or on the Web. “It seems like a lot of places are doing deals like book three nights and get the fourth one free,” Milligan said.
Most tourist destinations have also jumped into social media, but Web-savvy moms don’t just rely on platforms like Facebook and Twitter for travel advice even though they go to the Web to learn about destinations and to book travel, according to the survey.
Information from: The Tennessean, http://www.tennessean.com
Published in The Messenger 4.22.10