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Targeting Leisure Demand with the School Break Report

Author: Guest Brittany Baldwin, Director of Business Development, Destinations, STR
Posted: June 10, 2015
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As we all know, the information age has delivered a plethora of new marketing technologies and platforms that expose consumers to thousands of brand messages every day. Because of this, it is more important than ever for marketers to send the right messages, to the right audience, at the right time.

To accomplish this, one useful tool for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) targeting leisure travelers is STR’s 2015 School Break Report. This report features 2015/16 key calendar dates from over 1400 schools, including 950 public school districts and 450 colleges and 4-year universities. To view a sample of this report, click here.

Because the School Break Report features database listings for winter, mid-winter and spring break, as well as fall start dates and spring end dates, it’s a useful planning tool, year-round. With these key dates, DMOs can identify when feeder and/or drive-to markets will have the most availability for leisure travel, which is a first step in promotional planning for most organizations. To give you a better idea of how the School Break Report can be utilized for promotional planning, I’ll take you through a real-life scenario.  

For this example, let’s say your organization is located in STR’s hometown of Nashville, TN and you’ve been charged with planning an event to attract more leisure travelers to your destination during the late summer and early fall.  An initial step in this project would be to set the dates for the promotion or event.  Of course, you want to schedule the event to take place at a time when the majority of your target markets will be available to attend. To pinpoint the most opportune dates, you would use the School Break Report to identify the fall school start dates for each of your target markets. To further clarify this process, I have illustrated this step in the graphic below using the 2015 School Break Report. 

In this graphic, each destination listed around Nashville represents a hypothetical target market with drive-to access to Nashville. The dates listed for those markets are the 2015 fall school start dates for one or all of their public school districts. 

As you can see, the example target markets are out of school on summer break until at least the first week of August.   So this tells you the best time to attract the most leisure travelers residing in these markets is any time prior to the first week of August. But let’s say your goal is to schedule an event later than that week. You can now use these dates to identify the next best option, which is within the second week of August because the majority of your markets will still be on summer break. Once your event date is set to reach your ideal target areas, it is time to begin the promotional outreach to these markets via mailers, TV and/or radio advertisements, social media campaigns, and so on. 

In addition to targeting leisure travelers, DMOs can utilize the School Break Report to identify time periods when schools are in session, as those may provide opportunities for business and group travel. Also featured in the report, are graphical year-over-year comparisons of winter break, midwinter break and spring break vacation patterns, which are excellent for anticipating and identifying shifts in demand. 

For more information about STR's School Break Report, contact Brittany Baldwin, CGSP, CHIA, Director of Business Development, Destinations, at bbaldwin@str.com or visit www.STR.com.