Creating Itineraries for FIT Travel
The United States is a highly sought-after tourist destination for people all around the globe. For those of us in New York State, we are fortunate to have some of the most highly sought-after tourist destinations on the planet! New York City and Niagara Falls serve as natural gateways for international travelers around the world. We all know that tourism is big business- international travel plays a big part and is increasing every year. As of 2016, international travel (not including Canada) made up 28% of traveler spending in New York State. Source: Tourism Economics: The Economic Impact of Tourism in New York, 2016 Calendar Year.
Types of International Travelers
There are two main types of international travelers, those who come in groups and those who come independently. The type of international traveler I’m referring to is the individual or families, also known as FIT – Foreign Independent Traveler. FITs are individuals, families, couples, or any group made up of about 10 people or less. They tend to stay longer and spend more than the typical domestic traveler. They will fly in and rent a car but since they’re from overseas, they often don’t know what else there is to do in our state between the two gems at each end. So, they will often go to a travel agent and buy a readymade itinerary. These itineraries are imperative in implementing an international tourism marketing strategy.
In creating international itineraries, destinations need to be cognizant of who they are trying to attract.
9 points to keep in mind when creating itineraries for FIT Travel
- Give it an interesting and enticing title. Be creative in the title of the itinerary! It will be the first thing that will attract the prospective visitor.
- Make sure it makes logistical sense. People will be driving, so put attractions and hotels in the correct geographic order.
- Don’t try to time out the itinerary. Remember, these folks are on their own. They don’t want to stick to a specific schedule. The itinerary should focus on suggested attractions and activities and not a specific amount of time to spend at each place.
- Visuals are a must! Social media plays a key role in travel & tourism and drives people to visit a destination. There must be beautiful pictures! Just descriptions won’t be enough. We live in a highly visual world, especially in travel. A picture speaks a thousand words.
- Descriptions are important and can make or break an itinerary. Of course, there should be descriptions of the activities and sights to see but make it brief. Also, the descriptions should be more experiential in nature. The modern tourist is much more interested in the experience than they are the background or history.
- Know your audience. Keep in mind who you’re talking to and where they’re from. In relation to most other countries around the world, the United States is very young. For example, while we may think it’s a big deal that a building is 200 years old – compared to 1,000-year-old castles in Germany or artifacts in China, a couple of centuries isn’t that impressive. Although a few historical facts can be mentioned, the focus in a short description should be on experience, beauty or culinary delights.
- Less is more. There isn’t much real estate on an itinerary. The key sellers are pictures and descriptions. Don’t take up space on addresses and phone numbers, but always include a website.
- Show the way! Maps are a must. It doesn’t have to be a detailed map, but a map of the state which includes location identifiers (dot or star), is a great asset.
- How does it look? Remember that this is an international piece. Invest in a professional design to ensure high quality printed pieces, as well as something sharable electronically. It may be featured on a travel agent’s website or shown in hard copy to be used in various marketing activities.
The bottom line is, our friends overseas are at our back door. We just need to make sure they know to stop in and say hello.