Addressing Travelers' Multi-Lingual Information Needs
In order to be designated an All-American Road, your byway organization must demonstrate that it is "addressing multi-lingual information needs for international travelers." Many of the America's Byways® already have outreach programs in place to attract international travelers, but you may need to start by doing some research and putting together a targeted international marketing plan of your own. See Top 10 International Markets at http://www.tinet.ita.doc.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/2007_Top_10_Markets.pdf.
On average, the overseas traveler stays in the U.S. for 16 nights, ("overseas" does not include Canada, 7.5 nights, and Mexico, N/A.) As a result, many of them have the time to visit multiple sites. Your international marketing materials (print and electronic) need to make it easy for international travelers to find and reach your destination. You need to use research to determine which international travelers already come to your region, and target those international markets first. The Department of Commerce International Trade Administration Office of Travel & Tourism Industries (OTTI) has information on international travelers and many of their characteristics that could be useful in the development phase of your international marketing efforts at http://tinet.ita.doc.gov/outreachpages/download_data_table/2007_Overseas_Visitor_Profile.pdf.
America's Byways® are well-suited to attract the international visitor. According to OTTI, the Top 12 Leisure/Recreational Activities for overseas* visitors are:
|Dining in Restaurants 83%|
|Sightseeing in Cities 41%|
|Visit Historical Places 35%|
|Amusement/Theme Parks 25%|
|Visit Small Towns/Villages 25%|
|Cultural/Heritage Sights 20%|
|Water Sports/Sunbathing 19%|
|Touring the Countryside 18%|
|Visit National Parks 17%|
|Guided Tours 16%|
|*does not include Canada and Mexico|
These activities match the Longwoods International® 2007 research on Byway Personal Vehicle Trip Experiences for domestic travelers, http://www.bywaysresourcecenter.org/topics/visitor-experience/marketing/articles/1129/.
You can match your byway's strongest assets to these activities, and highlight them as you develop electronic and print materials for both international and domestic markets.
There are many effective ways to "address multi-lingual information needs," but you need to find the best resource, or combination of resources, that fit your budget. Once you identify the international market(s) you want to attract, develop a plan of action. Here are a few examples of how you can address multi-lingual traveler needs:
1. Use the internet – Traditional marketing
According to OTTI research, personal computers rank second in Information Sources for Overseas Visitors – used by 37% of overall overseas visitors and 44% of leisure travelers. Overseas travelers make trip decisions 79 days in advance, with leisure travelers deciding 98.3 days in advance. Some ways to capture the international audience are:
- Build a complete website and include maps, trip ideas, information on how to get to your byway from major feeder cities or places of interest, and contact information (remember to provide a local phone number and email address in addition to an #800 number; international visitors, except Canada, cannot access #800 numbers)
- Develop and provide electronic downloadable brochures
- Send regular emails to international media and tour operators
- Email press releases to international media and tour operators
- Include byway web pages in-language on the newly launched DiscoverAmerica.com
- Include byway web pages in-language on your State travel website
- Include in-language information on your own byway website
2. Use the internet – Social media
Many users are researching destinations using new media: Podcasts in language, blogs, popular websites like "Facebook," "MySpace," and tripadvisor.com. These electronic venues can attract a particular market segment to your byway. Don't overlook the possibility of providing information for PDAs or other mobile devices. Many directional systems are including destinations now, and potential and existing travelers use these mobile devices as well as the more traditional options.
3. Develop maps in the language of your target market(s)
Maps in other languages that point out attractions and places-of-interest are useful for the traveler. Downloadable maps are the easiest and most cost-effective to produce, but there are still travelers who prefer well-designed printed maps and/or destination guides. Make sure that the map provides information on how far your byway is from major transportation hubs - the international traveler stays in the U.S. on extended holiday and plans a route to see many sites. Provide the distance from the airport, train station, and/or major place of interest, to your byway – and if there's public transportation available to transport international travelers from the train station, for instance, to your byway, be sure to include that as well. What you are trying to do is make it as easy as possible for visitors to find you – not only during the research/trip planning phase, but also when they actually arrive here in the United States!
4. Reach out to your State Tourism Office(s), Regional Tourism Organization(s), local CVB(s) and/or Chamber(s) of Commerce
See what information and opportunities already exist for marketing to potential and repeat international visitors through these organizations. CRUSA (Capital Region USA) promoting byways in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC, and the Grand Circle Association, promoting 29 America's Byways in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah, already market their products to targeted countries – it may be easy for you to tap into what they're doing, and get some exposure to the international visitor through their programming at less expense than if you try to develop an international program all on your own.
5. Know your target markets and develop itineraries in-language
Post byway itineraries to your website in the language(s) of your target markets. Include attractions and places of interest that appeal to these travelers. Develop themed itineraries that showcase your visitor experience and intrinsic qualities. For instance, many British travelers are interested in birding and/or gardening; German travelers are interested in exploring the West, and some love motorcycle trips. It would be fairly easy to tailor itineraries for birdwatching or for seeing your byway via motorcycle. If you provide targeted information on activities that international travelers already enjoy, you may find it easier to attract them to your byway!
6. Promote your product(s) at trade shows for the international marketplace
Some of the major international travel trade shows include:
|a. U.S.-based international: Travel Industry Association International PowWow|
|b. U.S. Regional international: Go West Summit, Travel South Marketplace|
|c. Travel shows located around the world (if you are targeting a specific market): World Travel Market (UK), JATA World Congress (Japan), CITM (China), ITB (Germany), etc.|
7. Train your byway retailers and attractions staff on the needs and customs of the international travelers you want to attract to your byway
Educate the staff at the local chamber, CVB, retail establishments, and attractions on the customs and preferences of international travelers, and also brief them on key phrases of welcome and thanks in multiple languages. Everyone likes to hear "thank you" in their own language! Do an internet search, e.g. "thank you in foreign languages," and follow the sites for the language you need, or contact the local embassy or consulate for key words and phrases.
8. Capture the names and web addresses of people who visit your byway visitor centers
Use these names as a barometer of which international travelers might already come to your area, and include that. Where possible, build in a short survey to provide you with additional information – how did they find your byway, or what else are they visiting while they are in the United States. Great partnerships have been born from travel industry organizations discovering that visitors who come to see them are often ALSO stopping to visit the entity down the road, or in the next town over. Why not work together to build an even more compelling itinerary for the NEXT set of international travelers who discover your byway – or their museum or ghost town or whatever it is that brings them to your doorstep?
9. Use the National Scenic Byways Program resources
Reach out to the FHWA National Scenic Byways Program staff for assistance and to the America's Byways Resource Center byways specialist assigned to your State. Also, take advantage of the training provided by the America's Byways Resource Center delivered on-site, through the web or phone, and at the biennial National Scenic Byways Program Conference, http://www.bywaysresourcecenter.org/events/conferences/.
10. Network with your byway peers
Don't forget to network with your peers who have already put together targeted international marketing and media programs for their byways, and find out what worked for them. You can find byway contacts on www.bywaysonline.org/contacts, or post a question or comment in the discussion forums, www.bywaysonline.org/forums.