Tag Archives: marketing research

Kansas Tourism Conference Summary

Tourism-Conference-logo-2013

The Kansas Tourism Conference theme was Capitalizing on Tourism.  (The conference was held in the Kansas capital Topeka.)  The sub-theme might as well have been Getting Back to Basics.  Roger Brooks opened the conference with a two-part full morning general session sharing Deadly Sins and the New Age of Tourism, Jerry Henry provided guidance on doing research on a shoestring budget, representatives from the state revenue office gave a transient guest (hotel/motel/bed) tax 101, and the state tourism office shared their research and strategy the next fiscal year.

No fireworks.  No glamour.  “Just” a back to basic conference packed with information.  The top nuggets are offered in this month’s 5 in Five:

1. Arguably Roger Brooks’ key takeaway was the command to “jettison the generic”.   All too often we want to present our destinations as attractive to every audience – young, old, rich, poor, family, single, etc.  What we wind up with is a very generic ad that doesn’t attract anyone.  While he didn’t present them, I reflected on Roger’s 40 Overused Words and Phrases to Avoid in Destination Marketing.  Review the list here and then count how many of them are in your ads and publications.

2. Roger suggested 80% of people use the internet before they buy.  While I have seen that number as low as 60% and as high as 95%, regardless it’s a reminder that consumers are using the internet more and more.  Based on that, Roger suggests 45% of a destination marketing budget should be spent on the web/digital/social.  (In case you’re wondering about the other 55% – 20, PR/media; 20, traditional advertising; 10 collateral; and 5 outdoor or trade shows.)

3. Did you know 70% of all spending takes place after 6pm?  I’ve never heard this but Roger sharing it opened a lot of eyes and changed a lot of paradigms as we were challenged to thing about how we should create – or reschedule – events to after 5pm.  Sure it means retail outlets and workers of the events don’t get home to 9pm or later, but want to attract the most spenders?  Start after 5pm.  Our communities’ farmer’s markets are Wednesday mornings.  Yep, a lot of people working at that time.

4. Clearly a testament to the quality of Roger Brook’s presentations when four of the five aha’s are from him, but I appreciated when he stated cities and towns should not hang their hat on a festival or event.  What about the other 364 days (or 51 weekends) of the year?  I reflected on a time I was driving to a meeting in beautiful southwest Oklahoma.  Outside Idabel was a billboard welcoming travelers to the Home of the Dogwood Festival.  The festival is the first Saturday of April.  I was passing through weeks after.  I instantly thought “there isn’t any other reason to visit for the next 50 weeks!?”  (When in fact there is a lot to do in Idabel and McCurtain County.)

5. The last takeaway isn’t going to help your marketing plan or provide any ROI.  It’s merely professional development.  Developer Jack DeBoer welcomed the attendees at the Statehouse and provided sage advise from his book Risk Only Money.  The best was he shared if he had it to do all over again, he would listen more.

Thanks for reading.

Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing

In completing my Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) through Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) I had the opportunity to draft a paper on Town and Gown Relationships for Destination Marketing. What follows is the executive summary and excerpt of the conclusion. A link to the full paper follows. I hope by my sharing you are able to glean one nugget that will help in your destination marketing efforts.

As with any partners, town and gown relationships can be either cooperative or adversarial working relationships. City governments and neighborhoods either choose to stay at odds with local universities or colleges or, alternatively, develop programs to communicate and develop amicable partnerships. Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) in “college towns” are no different. Communication with nearly thirty colleagues revealed that some DMOs are just now establishing relationships with university departments and representatives while others have long established relationships. This paper will reveal five ways how DMOs have collaborated with their local universities to drive visitation to both the campus and community.

DMOs are collaborating with universities to drive travel, tourism and economic development to their communities. This paper has outlined a number of action items for such collaboration. As with most business ventures, they start with relationships – the most critical of which are:

– President’s office. Discuss your interests and goals. How could he/she “open doors for you”? Be mindful that the President could have another goal in mind, however, if you work on his/her goal first, he/she may have more willingness to promote and assist with the DMO’s project(s).

– Recruitment office. Can the community’s information provided by the DMO be included in the recruitment packages? As students begin their schooling and parents are introduced to the school, how can the DMO be a part of the orientation process?

– Athletics department. Can the DMO recruit events that could utilize the university fields and/or facilities? Can the DMO assist in recruiting regional or national championships or simply help service championships that are already coming to the community? You can also discuss clustering community events with athletic events on campus.

– Deans and Department Heads. Would they be open to communications to university staff soliciting meetings and conventions? Being experts in their fields Deans, department heads, and professors are probably speaking at conferences that could be attracted to the community.

The full paper is here: CDME Final Paper Edit. Please note that the paper is an edited version. (CDME only allows for so long of papers.) A longer, supplement with much more content and information from those 30 colleagues will be posted soon.

Thanks for reading!

Secret Shopping Visitor Guides

It really simply started as a curiosity about what other destinations were doing with their Visitor Guides.  But then as co-workers will tell you, my ideas get bigger and bigger!  How are other DMO’s Visitor Guide request processes?  How long does it take Guides to arrive?  Are they sent first class or bulk?  What size are they?   And then to the original question, what features are destinations including in the Guides?

Where else does one get the answers but to ‘secret shop’ Visitor Guides.  So we sent off – or attempted to send off for 60 Guides.  Major destinations.  Smaller destinations but primarily ‘benchmark’ destinations – University cities or cities of 100,000 in population.  The results?

Delivery Of 60 attempts, twice we were unable to even find an ability to request a guide online.  Two more fulfillment pages were broken.  Eight only offered online versions and we weren’t able to order a printed Guide.  So we were only able to order 48 Guides.  Surprisingly, we have only received 39.  Nine requests for Visitor Guides have gone unfulfilled.  Sure there’s got to be some explanation but perhaps that’s the next study – my asking the nine why they never sent a Guide. 

Delivery II The average Guide took 6 days for delivery.  Thus the challenge to our staff – 5 days or less!  Matter of fact, I have a side anecdotal story below about the importance of a speedy delivery!

Delivery III Only one Guide was not sent First Class.  Explains the average six day delivery.

Annual or Multiple Issues per Year We experimented printing three issues per year.  For too many reasons we’ve decided to return to an annual.  We’re right in line as only seven destinations don’t print an annual and those seven – the larger destinations – each printed twice a year.

Size Apparently out is the adage that Guides need to be small, pocket-sized for the visitor to put in their back pocket or purse.  23 of the 39 were magazine sized 8.5 X 11 (or a close size to that, 7.5 X 11.)  12 were digest size (5 X 8 or a close size to that, 4 X 9.)  The other three were 8 X 8, 7 X 9 and 4 X 7.

Length All over the board!  The smallest Guide was 10 pages.  Lengthiest – Orlando’s 233 pager.

Inserts / Enclosures A handful of destinations included a detailed Calendar of Events.  Six enclosed a thank you letter for requesting the guide.  And one destination hand wrote a note and dropped it in the envelope with the Guide!

Content –  Social Media meets print  There are numerous instances in which destinations have included Social Media content in the Visitor Guide.  Detroit’s is the most prevalent.  Detroit includes these “Travel Tips” throughout the Guide which the content is pulled from social media.

Detroit Travel Tip

They even go full-page with the social:

Detroit Social Page

Durham has similar features throughout their Guide:

Durham Fan Favorites

But Detroit keeps pulling from social media and nicely promotes the online world through their “Depict the D” page.  Click here to see the page.

Content – Use of QR Code While I bashed QR Code use last month, I will hand it to Columbia and Grand Rapids for both utilizing QR Codes to bring the online world to the print world.  Columbia offers the reader a chance to scan and have a walking tour of their downtown:

Columbia Walking Tour

Grand Rapids provides a map of their smart phone tour.  The page from the Guide has 10 QR Codes that a visitor can scan and learn more about the public art.

Content – Research back to Detroit where they point blank say ‘We Need Your Help’ and give you a QR Code to scan so you can answer a few questions about their Guide.

Detroit Survey

If you ever wanted to benchmark your Visitors Guide with others, there you go.  That’s a rough summary of what Visitor Guides are looking like today.  Thanks for reading.

Oh, by the way, here’s that story…

In the midst of our Visitor Guide research above, our family is planning our three family vacation next summer.  Thanksgiving Day my brother and I discussed three destinations.  I perused three destination websites.  My wife is still a printed piece person and heck, I being in the industry doing the above research thought here’s two more that I can test.  So, I requested three Visitor Guides.
Tuesday after Thanksgiving, the first one arrived.  (That’s TUESDAY after Thanksgiving it ARRIVES!  Standing O for someone or their mail house working on Friday or Saturday to get that Guide out!)  Wednesday my wife flipped through it while my daughter practiced.  My wife started texting me ads and pictures from the Guide.  She gets home and starts showing the family pages that were dog-eared.  When my son asked ‘can we go there.’  My wife declared, ‘Yes.  This is where we’re going next summer!’
But, what, um, uh, we have two more Guides on the way!  We have two more options!
Not in my wife’s mind.  Destination 1 beat the other two to the mailbox.  She’s already studied the Guide.  She liked what she saw.  She’s made up her mind!
Destination 2’s Guide arrived two days later.  She hasn’t even looked at it.  Destination 3’s Guide is yet to arrive.  Doesn’t matter.  Game over.

DMAI Convention Summary

Between seafood, the Space Needle, the Experience Music Project and my 19th Hard Rock Cafe, I did take in the sessions at DMAI’s Convention in Seattle.  I typed out action items or concepts for the staff and I to prioritize upon my return and had 54 items on the list – and that was before the last day of sessions!
I could make this very short and say Mobile.  The end.  But really there were five key concepts that I took away from Seattle: Mobile, Video, Research, Partnerships, and Service.
Mobile… Okay, Mobile could have been all five concepts. The gal from Google said it best, “We used to say ‘it’s not too late to be early to mobile’. I here to tell you you can no longer be early to mobile.” Facts shared: -smart phones out number desk top computers; – in 2014, mobile search will pass desk top search. If you do not have a mobile version of your website, stop reading now and call your webmaster. Seriously! Stop reading and call. Mobile is here!
The speaker from Google said, “Online is no longer an individual strategy. Online should be a part of every strategy.” From what I heard, insert Moble every place you have Online in those two statements.

Video… If you missed the fact two years ago, YouTube is the number two search engine.  And it hasn’t dropped last year or this.  Average time on a website is 48 seconds.  Average person spends 5 minutes and 50 seconds on the web.  What are they doing the other 5 minutes and 2 seconds?  Watching Video.  Video must be on everything and on every main section of your website.

And I know you’re gonna ask, does it have to be all Steven Spielburg, beautiful, HD? I heard a few times “content over quality”.  And keep ’em short!  30 seconds.  No one is going to watch your 8 minute mini movie about your destination.

Research… Everything we do starts and ends with Research.  Literally!

A Visitor Profile Study and Potential Customer Study are the minimum two that should be done before you begin any promotions.  After everything, do a Conversion Study to see if the leads generated even came.  There’s countless others but those are the minimum three.  (I’m going to attempt to get samples of each and post them on the site.)

Partnerships… This isn’t about the trend of DMOs moving from memberships to partnerships, it’s the reminder that without the hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail outlets, cab companies, sport facilities, conference center(s), etc., we have no destination to market!  Include your partners on the Mobile strategies.  Work with them on production of Videos.  Something they really want to know?  Add a question to your research.  And it’s okay to ask for financial assistance.  They are a partner!  Keep them as a partner or develop them as a Partner!

Services… You know it’s important when Convention Services had it’s own session!  The Certified Tourism Ambassador program or your own, local hospitality training program.  They’re all important!  We can do all the research, optimize our site for search, place all the pretty ads but if the traveler comes to our destination and is not met with outstanding service, they’re going to leave having not had a nice experience and they’ll probably Tweet about it or post it on Facebook.  (I did Monday night!  See more below.)

Good thing is only the first two are really expenses.  If you absolutely have to, you can do the research your self.  Partnerships and simple (and if done right, revenue) and Service development costs little to nothing.

Talk to you next month.  I need to get some Nirvana downloaded to my iPod.  Been craving some grunge since I landed.