What’s Missing?

You’ve spent money on advertising and marketing, your testing every channel, you’ve developed new creative and your budget has maxed out. What’s missing?

The inherent challenge in tourism marketing, especially if you are a DMO, CVB or state tourism organization, is the ability to close the loop on visitors and response attribution. Where franchise organizations or independent resorts and attractions have the ability to match a reservation or ticket sale, local regional and state tourism organizations don’t have access to that level of data nor the ability to measure campaign performance.

One thing RMG can tell you is that spending more is not your solution. I spent more than 15 years on the general agency side and all of the radio, TV and outdoor you can purchase will not help

you analyze and assess true success of your creative or media spend. As other industries with similar inherent challenges have realized, the only true answer comes from focusing on addressable household advertising and the ability to measure response.

The financial services industry was and continues to be a leader in this regard. They were one of the first to take and apply customer data, enhance with critical demographic geographic and psychographic attributes and determine who were the best customers for cross sell/upsell of products and services. Other industries have followed suit and we have seen retail, insurance, healthcare, non-profit and education adopt marketing strategy that includes data mining and predictive analytics.

Whether you call it CRM, data mining or AI, using data to inform marketing strategy, budgeting, channel allocation and campaign measurement is critical for today’s tourism marketer. As we see it, what’s missing is the CVB, DMO or tourism office embracing the data they currently maintain and using it to be able to better understand customer behavior and prospect interests. There is no better time than now to place a stake in the ground and commit to adopting some form of data assessment and insight for 2018. We’ve worked with clients who have purely prospect data – State or regional Tourism organizations that have fielded inquiries via website, phone or walk in. Here is a simple four step approach to adopting a basic data mining strategy to enhance your understanding of your prospect audience and marketing potential.

  1. You’ve got data now – whether that’s past guests, customers or inquirers. Pull that data regardless of the file format and begin analysis of the information you have collected. Do that by appending some of the top predictive attributes for tourism: age, income, presence of children, gender, length of residence, etc. We typically work with our clients on appending a basket of 20-25 predictive variables that dramatically increase our understanding of the audience.
  2. Now you have a baseline that either validates or enhances your understanding of your customers and prospects. Using this insight, you can work closely with your advertising and marketing partners to enhance creative execution, copywriting, media placements and channel management. While this may come as a shock to some, in the words of marketing guru Seth Godin “Not everyone is your customer.” Recognize that this approach is designed to embrace that philosophy and enhance your understanding of your market.
  3. We’re big believers in brand management and building awareness, but in 2018 there is no longer justification for 90% of your ad budget to be spent above the line. Addressable household level advertising has changed the landscape and you should be allocating your budget much more closely to a 60/40 or perhaps 50/50 mix of above the line brand building and below the line addressable advertising. Editorial comment: I mentioned earlier that I spent more than 15 years on the general agency side of the business. If your creative partner is telling you that they understand your audience and have done customer segmentation, persona development and demographic appending, then you have an excellent partner in your marketing process. If however they are talking about likes, followers, retweets, page views and impressions, then you don’t have the right partner to lead a data driven strategy.
  4. It’s time to implement test and learn campaigns. You’ve now identified critical customer segments; millennial’s, families, empty-nesters, celebrators, etc. it’s time to align all of your creative assets by segment and push out targeted campaigns at in addressable household level so that you can measure the effectiveness of your array of channels. You’re able to measure at an individual level the effectiveness of display, email, direct mail by integrating with custom landing pages that allow you in-depth understanding of response behavior.

Now you’ve got a roadmap to implement that database marketing approach you’ve been thinking about for years. If you think this will only further stretch your budget or you can’t afford it, we challenge that belief. We tell our clients and have ample evidence that allocating 10% of your current budget to data analysis will yield up to a 200% ROI in 12 months or less. How can you afford not to do it?!?