Tourism’s Role in Workforce Attraction
It Starts with a Visit
The economic contributions of travel to the economy are quantifiable:
In 2021, 219 million visitors traveled to and through Ohio. While traveling, they spent $35 billion directly at hotels, restaurants, attractions, wineries, breweries, campgrounds, retail shops, and others. These businesses spent an additional $12 billion on goods and services to accommodate these visitors, meaning the economic impact of Ohio visitation is $47 billion. Visitors also contributed $4.1 billion in state and local taxes, and more than 411,000 Ohio jobs are supported by travel (Source: Tourism Economics.)
So too is the effectiveness of destination promotion in driving visitation:
We also know that destination promotion works. According to TourismOhio, every $1 invested in the 2021 TourismOhio advertising campaign generated $83 in direct visitor spending and $6 in taxes in the state. In fact, seven in 10 travelers in Ohio’s primary markets reported seeing at least one TourismOhio ad.
We also know that destination promotion changes overall perception:
When people see an ad designed to inspire travel and then actually visit, it also clearly changes their perception about Ohio as a whole. Research tells us that 47% of those who saw a TourismOhio ad and visited perceive Ohio as a good place to live, more than double the percentage of those who reported just seeing an ad (Source: Longwoods International). Visiting Ohio made the difference.
So what’s the best way for the travel economy to support workforce attraction? How can our place-marketing skills best be used to convince nonresidents to move to our communities?
According to Talent Wars: What People Look for in Jobs and Locations, the expertise of tourism professionals makes a difference in all three stages of the relocation decision. They surveyed more than 1,000 people who had relocated at least 100 miles away from home in the last two years.
When asked what was the primary trigger for deciding to relocate, 46% said to have a better quality of life. Digging deeper, researchers found that after basic criteria are met (such as finding a house and job), the following were identified as the top three quality of life features: schools, outdoor recreation, and attractions/amenities. Notice that outdoor recreation and attractions are shared desirables among visitors and residents alike, and when we promote an area for visitation, we are promoting some of the quality of life features people are seeking.
Thirteen percent said they decided to relocate after visiting the area and then deciding to relocate there. Once they’ve decided to relocate, they then explore options. Again, access to outdoor recreation and arts/cultural amenities rank high.
Here’s what researchers say about the third stage – making the final decision:
"It’s clear the best way for talent to learn about locations is to visit the community themselves, underscoring the importance of tourism. This finding reinforces the role that travel has during talent’s path to purchase. Travel and tourism stakeholders are, or should be, an important component of a community’s talent attraction strategy as they play a vital role in developing an area’s quality of place and understand how to market those assets. Talent is paying attention to this messaging. In fact, 52% of respondents reported that prior to their most recent move, they consulted the local or state tourism website."
It starts with a visit
"We know that often the first introduction to a community is through visiting and creating that first, positive impression is critical to moving people down the funnel towards relocation" says Talent Wars. "It’s important to remember that while visitors are in a location, clear messaging on livability and job-related assets in the destination will begin to plant the seed of what it would be like for someone to not only visit a location, but to live and work there as well.”
- Keep promoting visitation. We have to continue to do what we do best - inspiring people to visit. To get them here, use proven strategies to drive visitation for leisure or business (including meetings and conferences.)
- Don't mix messages, as it won't be as effective as a targeted and strategic approach. Plus, too many businesses depend on the ongoing flow of travelers.
- Then make sure they see messages on livability once they’re here. Work with economic development professionals on in-destination strategies, served up to those in the area for leisure or business. Technology makes it possible to deliver liveability messaging to those in our communities.
- Understand the decision-making cycle of those who relocate so you can reach them with the answers they need at the time they are asking the questions.