Travel Marketing: students officially “over” the typical spring break

grand_canyon_spring_break.jpgA team of Chapman University students worked on a fire prevention project at the Grand Canyon National Park through the University’s Alternative Spring Break program. Photo via Chapman.edu

Spring break is a coveted week in March, and for those in hospitality marketing, planning for it is serious business. Airlines, resort owners, hotels, and tourism bureaus around the globe are scrambling to find the right message, offers and marketing to influence college students.

Our crack team of college marketers recently sat down with our College Futurist Panel and asked these students their thoughts on spring break travel.

The students we interviewed all said they research destination options and logistics 10 or more hours, on average. The majority of them indicated the desire to explore other non-traditional destinations and experiences. This is, of course, not a new insight. The trend of exploring other countries, volunteering, or planning a "staycation" have been gaining in popularity as alternative spring break options for a decade now.

Our college student panel indicated that the whole stereotypical “get drunk on the beach” type of spring break is something they might do once – almost as a rite of passage – but it’s not what motivates them anymore.

“I would prefer an experience trip over a vacation. I’ve done the beach thing,” said Sam R., a senior at the University of Minnesota. “I think the whole ‘road trip to Arizona’ is the biggest thing now. It’s the trendy thing to do the national parks.”

Tourism marketing professionals should take note. When asked what major factors contribute to their decision-making, the students cited three main things:

  1. Price – Students want affordable trip packages with steep discounts of at least 25% or more.
  2. Reviews – Students read reviews and can tell which ones are genuine. They want to see real pictures and videos of where they will be going.
  3. Experience – They want a trip that will offer something exclusive just for them (e.g., invite-only entertainment, VIP perks with a wristband, or unique accommodations outside the norm).

Want to read more of our spring break findings? Download our Futurist Panel Vol. 2 Report here.

College Spring Break Marketing