Rare Opportunity: Travel Frenzy Over Solar Eclipse

BY Courtney Huckabay
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"Get ready for solar eclipse mania," Beth Harpaz writes for Statesman Journal. "Destinations in the path of the Aug. 21 eclipse, which will be visible in the U.S. along a narrow path from Oregon to South Carolina, are going wild with plans for festivals, concerts and viewing parties."

"An eclipse tour in Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains National Park sold out in 10 minutes. The Smokies are among 20 National Park sites that will experience the total solar eclipse, from sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina to Wyoming's Grand Tetons. "We are expecting record visitation," said NPS spokesman Jeffrey Olson.

State and national parks within the viewing path have enormous opportunities to draw in travelers. The new AudienceSCAN data reported 41.5% of Domestic Travelers are planning trips to state/​national parks!

"Hopkinsville, Kentucky, population 32,000, and Carbondale, Illinois, population 23,000, expect 50,000 visitors each. The destinations, 140 miles apart, will experience about 2 minutes and 40 seconds of total darkness, among eclipse sites with the longest duration. Events in the region include an "Eclipse Con" festival, concerts and tailgate parties."

"South Carolina's Clemson University also expects 50,000 people at a campus event that will feature astronomers and other experts. Twenty thousand people will gather in the Ochocho National Forest for Oregon Eclipse 2017, with music, yoga, theater, art installations and more. Wind River Reservation in Wyoming hosts "bring back the sun" ceremonies."

Those who want a more "natural" eclipse experience will appreciate the outdoor experience campsites and state parks can provide. The new AudienceSCAN study showed 34.7% of Domestic Travelers enjoy exploring nature.

"A Pink Floyd Tribute band plans a "Dark Side of the Moon" concert in Jefferson City, Missouri. The South Carolina Philharmonic in Columbia offers "Star Wars Musiclipse." Sylva, North Carolina, has a "Moonlight Madness" run."

Concerts in honor of the rare event will appeal to Travelers. The new AudienceSCAN survey found 39.5% of Domestic Travelers want to attend concerts in the next 12 months.


"In small or remote destinations, hotels and campsites in the path of totality are completely sold out. But bigger cities still have openings. As of March 25, Nashville hotels were only 54 percent booked. Hotels in Casper, Wyoming, are charging five times their usual rates. Rooms at Idaho's Sun Valley Resort have been booked for years."

"Many hotels are offering eclipse packages. Nashville's Loews Vanderbilt package includes eclipse viewing glasses, commemorative T‑shirt, Uber gift card and bar credit. Hotel Jackson in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has an "eclipse concierge" to help guests plan their $699-​a-​night stay."

People will be searching for places to stay near the path, so hotels, inns, lodges, campsites and B&Bs need to ramp up their SEM tactics now. 33% of Domestic Travelers took action based upon sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing) in the past month, according to AudienceSCAN research.


"As the moon moves in front of the sun, daylight will yield to darkness from Oregon to South Carolina along a path 60 to 70 miles wide. The path of totality will also cut across broad swaths of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee, along with corners of Kansas, Georgia and North Carolina, and a tiny chip of Iowa. Totality will first hit Oregon around 10:15 a.m. Pacific time. South Carolina will experience the final moments of total darkness at 2:49 p.m. Eastern time."

A daily deal could sway travelers into the towns along the highways that line the eclipse’s path. The new AudienceSCAN survey found 27% of Domestic Travelers took action after seeing daily deals in the past month.

"Some spectators are heading to mountains and forests to experience the eclipse in a natural setting."

"Destinations that offer easy highway access have an advantage in bad weather: You can drive elsewhere to seek clear skies. "Clouds are the enemy of eclipse chasers," Sharon Hahs said. "If one can move, one should."

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.