How to Sustain High Ticket Sales Beyond Tourist Seasons

November 16, 2023

With the recent surge in remote work and the evolving travel landscape, shoulder seasons no longer signify a drop in ticket sales for attractions. In fact, data from Tripit predicts that international flights will double in volume in the fall of 2023, indicating a strong opportunity for sales growth throughout the year. 

That said, as the seasons change, so must your approach to ticket sales and marketing. While some campaigns may be successful year-round, it’s crucial to adapt your strategies to maintain high-ticket sales through the off-season. 

Luckily, seasonal marketing efforts can now capitalize on trends such as blended travel and the increasing flexibility in work schedules. In this guide, we’ll explore key strategies for attracting and retaining visitors beyond tourist season.

How Off-Season Is Changing for Ticket Sales

The concept of the “off-season” has undergone a significant transformation, driven primarily by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic changed the way travelers plan, research and approach their trips, and this shift has profound implications for event and attraction marketing strategies:

  • Remote Work and Blended Travel: One notable change is the rise of remote work. As businesses adapt to flexible work arrangements, individuals are seizing the opportunity to combine work and leisure travel. This trend, known as blended travel, has blurred the lines between peak and off-peak seasons.
  • Extended Peak Seasons: Peak seasons have become more fluid, with travelers taking advantage of remote work to extend their stays beyond the traditional summer or holiday periods. This extension of peak seasons provides attractions with a broader window of opportunity for ticket sales.
  • Rediscovering Local Attractions: During lockdowns and travel restrictions, people turned to local attractions for entertainment and relaxation. Many discovered hidden gems in their own regions. This newfound appreciation for local attractions continues to influence visitor behavior, even during the off-season.
  • Online Engagement: The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online engagement channels, such as social media. Attractions must maintain a strong online presence and leverage digital marketing strategies to maintain bookings and ticket sales through slower seasons.

Best Practices for Off-Season Ticket Sales

1. Prepare During Peak Season

Peak periods are the perfect time to prepare for the next season and build your off-season marketing strategy. Use this time to collect valuable data on how visitors interact with your business, and audit your current marketing strategy. 

Pay close attention to visitor behavior, preferences, and demographics. Seek feedback from visitors to understand what you’re doing well and where improvements can be made. 

Consider implementing a post-event survey to better understand your visitor experience. This feedback will be invaluable for fine-tuning your offerings during slower seasons, and can inspire your future content marketing efforts. 

2. Understand Your Off-Season Visitor

Recognize that shoulder seasons attract a different crowd than peak tourist season, and that your messaging must shift to resonate with this target audience. 

For instance, recent data shows that 70% of couples with double incomes and no children, referred to as “DINKS”, prefer to travel in the fall shoulder seasons. This coincides with a 90% drop in searches for family-friendly vacations, as children return to school in September and families are less likely to be booking travel excursions and events. 

Retirees and budget-conscious visitors are also more prominent during slower seasons, as are local customers, who are often more inclined to visit local attractions once the tourist crowds have diminished.

Analyze data from previous years to gain insights into the demographics and preferences of off-season visitors. This information will be the foundation for crafting targeted marketing campaigns that resonate with your off-season audience.

3. Leverage Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Your online reviews and reputation can make or break your ticket sales. In fact, 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and referrals. And what better time to utilize the power of customer reviews than during the slow season? 

During high-season, encourage customers to leave online reviews and testimonials. This can be done through email marketing, or as a post-purchase prompt on your website. You can then inject customer reviews into your off-season marketing campaigns, or install a reviews widget on your website to showcase positive feedback from past guests. Genuine social proof can go a long way in convincing prospective visitors that your attraction is worth experiencing.

4. Target Local Visitors

With international visitor numbers down during off-peak times, focus on promoting your business to locals. Offer exclusive discounts, like weekday and weekend pricing, to entice residents. 

Highlight unique, lesser-known activities to intrigue those who have already explored the typical tourist sites. Collaborate with local businesses, organize community events, partner with nonprofits, or run charity campaigns to enhance brand visibility among nearby communities. 

Building a loyal local customer base during the off-season can lead to positive word-of-mouth marketing, repeat business, and recommendations to seasonal guests.

5. Use Email Marketing 

During your busy season, work towards building a large email list. Collect visitor emails through engaging email campaigns, enticing special offers, or creative incentives that pique their interest. Your email list becomes a valuable asset for maintaining a connection with potential guests, ensuring your attraction remains on their radar, even when they’re not actively planning a visit.

Here’s how to work some email marketing magic:

  • Segment Your Audience: Divide your email list based on preferences, demographics, or previous booking patterns.
  • Personalize Your Messages: Craft tailored emails that resonate with each segment, offering exclusive discounts and customized packages aligned with their interests.
  • Showcase Shoulder Season Delights: Regularly send captivating emails showcasing the unique attractions and experiences available during off-peak periods.
  • Engage Through Storytelling: Weave compelling narratives and visually appealing content into your emails, keeping customers engaged and eager to explore your attraction.
  • Drive Action: Employ clear and enticing calls-to-action to encourage bookings and nurture lasting customer relationships.

6. Get Active on Social Media 

The rise of TikTok has revolutionized how people discover events and travel destinations, with data revealing that 40% of young adults aged 18-24 prefer searching on TikTok and Instagram over Google. 

Social media should be an ongoing part of your marketing strategy, and during shoulder seasons it can serve as a vital connection to potential customers. It’s vital to tap into the potential of user-generated content, harnessing the enthusiasm of past visitors to create authentic endorsements. Engage your audience by running exciting social media giveaways and contests, sustaining interest even in quieter months.

Additionally, consider partnerships with local influencers, who can spotlight your offerings and events to a local audience. Embracing social media’s power can keep your attraction top of mind, ensuring steady foot traffic during shoulder seasons.

7. Build a Customer Loyalty Program

Fostering a strong connection with past loyal customers is paramount, especially during slower seasons when foot traffic tends to dip. Introducing a well-designed customer loyalty program can be a game-changer, offering incentives that entice visitors to return.

The key is to build feelings of exclusivity around your program, whether through exclusive perks or discounts, to make visitors feel valued, appreciated and excited to join. Another option is to build a tiered loyalty program or utilize gamification.

Starbucks’ loyalty program is a great example of both strategies in action. Starbucks’ “stars” system encourages repeat visits in order for customers to unlock new loyalty benefits. Such programs provide a compelling reason for visitors to stay connected with your attraction, even when it might otherwise slip from their minds.

8. Reduce Cart Abandonment 

Cart abandonment, while frequently associated with e-commerce, holds significant importance for ticketed attractions and tour operators. It can silently drain revenue as interested visitors leave their tickets behind. 

Statistics reveal that seven out of ten online shoppers abandon their items before completing the purchase. For this reason, it’s necessary to always closely monitor your cart abandonment rate. Are potential visitors encountering obstacles in the ticketing process? Identifying and addressing these issues is essential for increasing conversions during the off-season.

To combat this revenue loss, incorporate cart abandonment campaigns into your marketing strategy, which can be done through email marketing, push notifications, and exit intent notifications. For an easy all-in-one solution to cart abandonment, consider investing in Cartstack, which includes all the tools necessary to build a winning cart abandonment strategy. 

These strategies can effectively recapture the attention of potential visitors, reminding them of their interest and nudging them toward completing their booking, ultimately safeguarding ticket sales and revenue during both peak and off-peak seasons.

Off-season? More like on-season for ticket sales!

With the evolving travel landscape and the increasing popularity of blended travel, the traditional notion of the “off-season” has transformed into a season of opportunity for event and attraction marketers. Flexible schedules enabled by remote work have extended peak periods, while the rediscovery of local attractions continues to influence visitor behavior even during slower seasons.

To thrive in this dynamic landscape, adapt and refine your marketing strategies, from understanding your off-season audience to leveraging customer reviews, embracing social media, implementing email marketing campaigns, and crafting enticing loyalty programs. Don’t forget the importance of addressing cart abandonment, a revenue drain that can be effectively minimized.

To experience firsthand how much revenue can be saved by combating cart abandonment, sign up for a free trial of Cartstack today! With a guaranteed recovery of $1000 in just 14 days, Cartstack can be the key to ensuring ticket sales soar, no matter the season.