To top off our Insights Summit at the Annual Convention, we heard from representatives from three destination marketing organizations: Sarah Finstad, regional managing director, north America, Destination Canada, Charles Harris, chief marketing officer and executive vice president of public affairs with Visit Anaheim, and Fletch Brunelle, vice president of marketing, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
We asked our panel of destination marketing leaders to speak to their COVID-19 coping strategies and share with us how they are adapting and reprioritizing their marketing activities.
Fletch with Las Vegas spoke to some of the campaigns that they have been running over the last few months. They are working to convey the measures that hotels and restaurants are taking to keep visitors safe and want visitors to know that Las Vegas will be ready for travelers whenever they decide to return. Charles of Visit Anaheim said that they have been engaging more with locals than ever before via the creation of organic content.Sarah of Destination Canada explained that as a national tourism marketing organization, they are investing $30M back into the marketing organizations that are local and hyperlocal and operating with the goal of helping travelers and communities feel comfortable again.
When it comes to data, all DMOs, no matter their size, are trying to understand if people are looking to travel to their region at all. They are staying closely attuned to search trends with their advertising partners because search has a high correlation with intent to travel. These early signals also help them know when they can start to think about marketing.
“We want to know what stage the potential travelers are in and what type of marketing efforts we should be undertaking. We also need to understand the state of our communities…We cannot actively promote a region if they are not open and ready to market,” said Sarah. Fletch explained that, “we were working on driving inspiration even when the market was not open yet.” As Vegas opens, they are looking at measuring what potential visitors are thinking and, based on their behaviors and attitudes, trying to craft an appropriate and compelling message. Looking to the future, Charles shared that when Anaheim does re-launch their marketing efforts, they will not be holding themselves to the number of visitors that they’ve reached in previous years. But, as in years past, they will measure both conversions and engagement across various channels.
What we’ve heard from our destination marketing partners is that they want to know what they can be doing now to drive awareness with travelers and how they should be planning for the future. Because no two destinations are alike, all recovery plans will look different. We’ve been partnering with DMOs throughout the crisis to share best practices and help them achieve their goals – even during these challenging times. Continue refining your recovery plan; listen in on critical conversations from industry experts on how the travel industry is responding to and recovering from COVID-19 with our