Travel Trends Take an Unexpected Turn

Posted on Monday, July 9, 2018 by Kelsey

Tourists want to do more than consume; they want to make an impact.

Volunteer travel has been on the rise over the past few years. Many tourists want nothing but relaxation when they’re on vacation, but a significant portion of them want to leave a positive mark on the communities they visit. They do this by volunteering.

One way to attract “voluntourists” is to coordinate with local organizations/nonprofits to add volunteer opportunities tailored for visitors. Volunteer information should be readily available and easily accessible to people who aren’t from the area. Giving tourists an opportunity to volunteer creates lasting, positive memories, and increases the likelihood they’ll return or tell their friends to visit.

Travelers are braving the cold for winter wonderlands.

Travel to cold weather destinations has increased in recent years. Thrill-seekers are looking for snow sports they can’t do at home like skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Those traveling from warm climates dream of snuggling up next to a fireplace in a cozy cabin while watching the snow fall outside.

Destinations with cold winter climates have the upper hand in making winter dreams come true, and it’s a lucrative business. Brands can leverage this advantage by using positive messaging when talking about winter and all it has to offer and by sharing information about the unique activities visitors can enjoy when coming to a snow-covered destination.

Small towns with historic charm are taking over.

As popular cities get more crowded, lines get longer, and Facebook feeds get flooded with the same picture reincarnated from 30 different angles, people are looking for a refreshing view. Travelers are venturing to smaller, less populated destinations to get their own unique experience.

A major draw of small towns is historical significance. Tourists are looking to make connections to the places they visit, and a strong story adds meaning to the trip. Brands can benefit from showcasing historical locations associated with their business.

Visuals are King in the Age of Saturated Social

Posted on Thursday, June 28, 2018 by Kelsey

Social media is constantly evolving, and brands must be willing to adapt their content strategy to take full advantage of changing trends and platform capabilities. In 2018, high-quality visuals are the frontrunner in the content race. Keep reading to find out what other types of content win on social media.

Photos and video come out on top when it comes to engagement. That means they are liked, commented on and shared far more often than posts without visuals. People are drawn to posts with eye-catching, high-quality photos accompanied by text, especially captions including questions that prompt a response from the audience.

Behind-the-scenes content
People need a reason to spend their time viewing branded content. Brands can make followers feel like VIP guests by sharing “insider” information. By sharing content that can’t be found via Google search, brands give users a reason to return to their page to learn something new, see something unique and get to know the brand’s personality better.

Curated content
Brands can benefit from sharing content posted by other accounts. This includes articles, blog posts, photos, videos and anything related to the brand that followers might find useful or entertaining. Posting curated content simplifies the posting process and makes brand’s feeds more versatile and interesting to followers.

User-generated content
Sharing content posted by followers strengthens the connection between a brand and its audience. Like curated content, user-generated content is already created and only needs to be collected for sharing. Brands should share high-quality visuals and interesting shots from other users to keep their feed fresh.

Brand-to-consumer communication
Social media gives brands the power to connect with customers every day. By responding to posts about products and services, brands can strengthen relationships and create loyal customers. Utilizing platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to create positive interactions with customers gives brands an edge over the competition.

Everyone loves a good story

Posted on Saturday, May 12, 2018 by Alan

History provides context to the places tourists visit on their travels. They want to know how and why it came to be, who made it and what that history means for the present and future. History provides incentive for people to visit a place, making it memorable and unique from other potential destinations. A place’s story can be the deciding factor in travel plans, so a well-developed narrative can give a location the edge to attract crowds for years to come.

At P&B, we’ve run several history-focused promotions that have generated a lot of buzz. Sharing historical photos on social media has also been a very successful tactic in creating fan engagement. By promoting community history and historical sites online, you can give travelers a peak into your community’s backstory and even inspire ideas for exploring on their next trip.

5 Reasons Tourism in Wisconsin Rocks

Posted on Monday, April 30, 2018 by Kelsey

Vacations are today. Tourism is forever.

When people travel to Wisconsin, they adopt a more positive view of the state and all it has to offer. According to the Wisconsin Department of  Tourism, “Travelers who have visited Wisconsin in the past two years rate the state much higher than those who have not visited the state.” The positive sentiment and word-of-mouth marketing has potential to entice others to not just to travel, but live, work and start businesses in Wisconsin. When that happens, the impact of tourism reaches far beyond a one-time visit.

Tourism gives (spending) power to the people.

According to the state, tourism generated $1.5 billion in state and local revenues, saving taxpayers an average of $650 per household. With an extra $650, you could buy 36 tickets to a Brewers game, spend a weekend in the Dells, or buy 120 pounds of brats. In other words, Wisconsinites can thank tourists for a whole lot of fun.

Tourism supports your favorite restaurant.

Name your favorite Wisconsin pastimes. Odds are, eating and drinking make the list. You’ve got tourism to thank for that—the tourism economy supports 35% of all recreation jobs and 23% of all food & beverage jobs in Wisconsin. So next time you’re out at a restaurant with your friends after a day of fun, think of all the people who helped make your day awesome. Their jobs might not exist without tourism but, thanks to more than 100 million annual visitors, we’re able to continue enjoying cheese curds from the comfort of someone else’s kitchen.

Tourism employs people across industries.

Tourism supports many jobs in the recreation and food industries, but its operations extend into other businesses including manufacturing, printing, food and beverage suppliers, and business services. The Department of Tourism explains: “Tourism directly and indirectly supports 193,500 jobs in Wisconsin.” Without the industry’s contribution, the state’s unemployment rate would more than double to 10.1 percent.

Vacation is good for the soul, and it’s good for the economy too.

American workers are taking less time off of work than we used to, and it’s hurting businesses. According to the U.S. Travel Association and Project: Time Off, American workers reported taking just 16.2 days of vacation a year, almost a full week less than they did 20 years ago. This stockpile of unused paid leave contributes to worker burnout and even larger balance sheet liabilities that directly affect a company’s bottom line. Tourism means taking time off work to explore and, while you’re at it, spend money. That money keeps the economy rocking. So, take that extra week off. You deserve it.

Moving Fast: Travel Trends of 2018

Posted on Friday, April 20, 2018 by Kelsey

A wise man named Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.” Those of us in the travel and tourism industry know this truth all too well. But just like the fleeting moments we work hard to create for vacationers, travel trends come and go, and they move fast. What do people look for in a vacation in 2018? Is it still called a vacation? We did a little research to find out what today’s travelers want when they’re on the move. Here’s what we know:

Food is not just a necessity, it’s a cultural experience.

The days of five-star dining and fancy tablecloths are behind us. Today, foodie nomads demand adventure in their meals, and that means frequenting authentic spots for local cuisine. Vacationers want to go home and tell their friends what new, unique, can’t-get-it-anywhere-else dish they tried. This is especially true for Millennials who can’t bear to recreate someone else’s experience, especially when it comes to the photo op at the end of dinner.

According to Intrepid Travel, “A recent study by the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA), the definition of adventure is changing. Risky adrenaline activities are favored 45% less than ‘experiencing a new culture’ in the definition of adventure travel.” Activities these food-loving risk-takers enjoy include food tours, cooking classes and wine tastings. Towns and businesses can attract these types of travelers by promoting their specialty dishes and sharing images of appealing spreads and Instagram-worthy dining spaces.

Solo travel is on the rise, and the industry is making accommodations.

Popular travel destinations such as hotels, cruise ships and restaurants have started developing single-friendly packages to accommodate those traveling alone, a practice that has become very popular in recent years. Intrepid Travel found that Google searches for ‘solo travel’ and ‘travel alone’ were at the highest they’ve ever been in January of [2018].”

One reason this trend is, well, trending is the fact that Millennials are waiting longer than older generations did to settle down and get married. It’s important for businesses that tend to offer promotional packages for families and couples to consider this new demographic and take advantage of those venturing out on their own.

The coolest destinations are the ones nobody’s heard of.

A phenomenon taking place in Europe and trickling into other parts of the world is “discovery travel.” Travelers are passing up the Romes and Parises of the world to venture into neighboring small towns and stumble upon their own must-see destinations.

This strategy gives visitors a truly one-of-a-kind experience that is personal to the individual. In other words, people are opting for the road less traveled so they can say they were there first. That’s great news for backroad destinations that can leverage the appeal of the unknown to increase hotel bookings and restaurant reservations to make Romes out of their Puglias. (Independent)

Pinterest Moves into the Major Leagues

Posted on Friday, April 13, 2018 by Kelsey

Pinterest is often dismissed by advertisers as a platform for recipe sharing and DIY craft projects. But the platform is actually a major player in both the social media and search engine leagues. That’s right – Pinterest hosts 2 billion searches every month, and with the addition of Lens, a super-convenient visual search tool, the possibilities for discovery are growing. If that’s not reason enough for advertisers to reevaluate Pinterest’s place on their list of priorities, here’s a list of reasons why Pinterest is a content king.

Reasons to use/advertise on Pinterest:

Post lifespan

Pinterest is unique to other social media platforms when it comes to post lifespan. Unlike tweets, Instagram photos and Facebook posts, pins continue to garner engagement for months after the initial post. According to Hootsuite, “the average pin is repinned 11 times and it takes a pin 3.5 months to get 50 percent of its engagement.” (Hootsuite)

Experience-based content

The experience-oriented nature of Pinterest means that people are not just killing time online, but making real plans for real life. This is good news for experience-based businesses (tourism, for instance). Pinterest users compile their aspirations and dreams into boards which they can refer back to when making plans for their lives. That’s why recipes, wedding ideas and, you guessed it, travel, are so popular on Pinterest. In fact, pins about travel and tourism make up nearly 25% of all activity on Pinterest. (TourismTiger) Pinterest happens on a screen, but Pinterest users make pins happen in real life.

Purchasing decision influence

Pinterest functions like a search engine, and actually serves as one of the most-used websites for shoppers doing product research. With integrated shopping capabilities and one of the most popular sites for e-commerce marketing, it’s no surprise that 93 percent of pinners use Pinterest to plan purchases. (Hootsuite)

Top Pinterest strategies:

Optimize pin quality

  • Post high-quality images and pin-able graphics.
  • Use rich pins, which offer space for additional details and content on each pin that increases engagement and drives traffic to your website

Increase presence and activity

  • Pin and repin regularly throughout the day.
  • Follow pages similar to your own and share their content.
  • Engage with content in the “Popular” category.

Utilize SEO and keywords

  • Include SEO keywords in pin descriptions to increase likelihood of pins showing up in searches.
  • Categorize pins accurately to increase likelihood of pins being displayed in relevant feeds.


Bright Colors, Bold Designs

Posted on Thursday, April 12, 2018 by Kate

In general, it appears that 2018 will be the year of vibrant and colorful design. From typography to photography, the general trend is for brighter, bolder layouts and colors. Last year, in contrast, we saw a resurgence in vintage trends, nostalgic muted tones and minimalism. According to leading design blog “99 Designs” and “Venngage,” popular looks will be specialized and unique. To accomplish out-of-the-box design, photo manipulation, lettering, and illustration will become popular—alone and combined—to make brands stand out among their competitors.

Pilch & Barnet has utilized photo manipulation most recently for some of our clients, placing a map pattern over photos on a website and placing selective photo cutouts over logos on visitor guides. Another example of photo manipulation is on the team member photos on the Pilch & Barnet website.

The New Facebook Algorithm: Posting Smarter

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 by Kelsey

The landscape of Facebook has undergone major changes in recent months with the rollout of a new algorithm that prioritizes posts from family and friends above those from brands and other pages. This change is part of Facebook’s effort to increase daily usage and engagement among users.

Other new additions include the Facebook Stories feature, which allows users to post temporary photos and videos, as well as Facebook Live, which gives users the ability to stream live video to their followers.

Source: Pixabay

Although posts from pages do not receive the priority they once did, brands still have power to share meaningful content with their Facebook followers.

Research suggests brands are most successful when they post once or twice a day. Why?

It eliminates brand fatigue.

When brands post too often, followers can get tired of seeing their content. By limiting the number of posts, businesses can avoid inundating their followers’ news feeds.

It boosts visibility.

When brands only post once or twice a day, it’s more likely the posts will actually show up on followers’ feeds. When too many posts are made, Facebook’s algorithm chooses which ones to make visible. This means not everything you put out will be seen–and it could very well be the most important updates that go unseen by your audience. (Obviously, advertising on Facebook is key to brands’ visibility as well.)

It prioritizes the best content.

When narrowing down to one or two posts a day, brands must be picky about the content they share. While this might seem daunting at first, it will work out best for the brand in the long run because only the best content will make the cut.

Video and images garner the highest amount of engagement from Facebook users. Source: Buzzsumo




As new features such as live streaming and stories grow across social media platforms, research continues to show that video garners the highest engagement of all content. The appeal of video is its accessibility and authenticity, especially to younger audiences. While video can be challenging to produce, its benefits can be replicated in photos and other content that focus on brand personality and provide value to customers.

The new Facebook terrain may seem like a challenge, but it gives brands the opportunity to develop their content strategy to share the most high-quality, engaging and relevant content with their followers to build and strengthen relationships.


Authentic Photography

Posted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 by Brianna

At Pilch & Barnet, we’ve always championed on-site photo shoots where models resemble real people on vacation in your destination. When our target audiences connect with the images and really envision themselves there, they’re more likely to plan a trip. Whether we’re working with custom photos or selecting stock, we look for images that convey emotion, contain action or tell stories as authentically as possible. But that’s no longer just a standard that we employ: unfiltered and unstaged compositions are now back in vogue. Demand for real-life photography grew significantly in 2017 and will grow even more in 2018 as brands seek to connect with their users and designers seek to rid the world of staged stock photography.

Take CVS Pharmacy, for example: recently, they’ve decided to inform customers if certain advertisements for beauty products have been digitally altered, keeping in line with this step towards authenticity in advertising. From Helena Foulkes, executive vice president of CVS: “[People] are saying ‘Celebrities aren’t real. I want to relate to people who have my own imperfections and feel that I’m empowered by the fact that I look like these people.’”

Staged unnatural images may compete for attention, but often fall flat simply because the audience can’t identify with them. Additionally, stock imagery is more familiar to very active internet users because it’s so pervasive (thanks Google images) and can be seen as disingenuous or lazy advertising. Even Instagram users don’t want to post images of themselves smiling at the camera, ushering in the rise of the “plandid,” or a staged photo that looks candid. Unique captures, delightful moments, and surprising perspectives will resonate with viewers more strongly since they show real life rather than staged situations.

FAQs Can Help Drive Content

Posted on Friday, January 12, 2018 by Ben Jones

As we continue to plan out content for e-newsletters, websites and social media outlets for 2018, we’re taking to heart a piece of advice we picked up at a content conference last year, attended by three people from our Content team. One of the valuable tips we heard was to ask clients what questions they frequently get from visitors and potential visitors online, over the phone or in person at their visitor centers or chamber offices. Then, we can craft content based on these questions and use it on websites (FAQ pages, blog articles), in our e-newsletter copy and in social media. This content is valuable because it’s based on information people are actively looking for, not to mention that it can help bolster search results for our websites and improve engagement on our social media channels.