But you already knew that
1) Wellness Travel
Sheila says, “where people can go to relax, detox, relieve stress, get a massage and spa treatments, eat healthy food, be more mindful, get some exercise, etc.”
You can promote your clean air and water, and even your small town slow pace of life is part of wellness.
2) Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Travel
Some of the keyword trends include:
- Greener, more local getaways
- Environmentally-friendly travel ideas
- Eco-friendly, eco-conscious vacations
3) Multigenerational and Family Travel
Sheila said there has been a spike in searches for “where to plan a family reunion.” This is a great chance to feature how safe your town is for kids, how many activities are open to everyone in the family.
4) An Appreciation for Nature & The Outdoors
“Smaller towns, rural areas, scenic byways – they all have an advantage right now, in that travelers still very much want the natural beauty they can offer,” Sheila said.
5) Unique, Local Experiences
Sheila said travelers want to “Learn about and support local culture. Do something hands-on, like a cooking or craft class, that teaches you about that local culture.”
Look to your local artists, crafters, musicians, makers and other fun creatives. Do they offer short term or one-day classes? Are there longer retreats in your area? All these are smart things to share about your community.
Is this just a fad? No.
“There has been a big uprise in traveling to smaller towns that have some quirky and regional appeal,” said Arabella Bowen, executive editorial director of Fodor’s Travel. “There is a want for a local, authentic, mom-and-pop experience.”
That’s from 2013. And it could just as well be from 2023.
All the themes from 2013’s Changing travel motivations favor small towns are still true. People want to explore, visit local artists, and get off the beaten path.
What to do: action steps
Of course blog about any of these topics, as Sheila suggests.
Share anything from your town that fits into these trends on your social channels.
Promote these destinations on your “What to do in [town]” Pinterest board. We’ve said it before, but this is still a great tip!
Play up your quirky businesses, mention your local characters, and share the things that some folks find embarrassing but that make your town unique.
Full disclosure: I helped co-found Tourism Currents along with Sheila Scarborough.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.