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Interactive Creative within the Tourism Space

October 26, 2017

At the International Powwow (IPW) in Washington DC this past June, hundreds of Destination Marketing Organizations and attractions gathered to discuss the trends in Travel and Tourism. While the primary focus of the conference was not media, it was clear that every DMO in attendance understood the importance of showcasing their brand. Exhibitors leveraged brand identity and creativity to transform expo booths into anything from kayak stands, to wine cellars, sandcastles, and campfires. While attendees were wowed at the powwow, what about the target audience outside of the event? Immersive and captivating experiences aren’t limited to the confines of a destination or attraction and stem from advertising efforts as well.

Here are five ways Travel & Tourism brands can start leveraging interactive creative in their marketing and advertising campaigns:

Branch out from Banner Ads          

It will take much more than one banner ad impression to convince someone to take a vacation. Travel decisions are complex and typically take one to three months to plan—and that is after selecting a destination. Sure, banner ads can inspire consumers or remind them of the brand and its strengths, but they do not capitalize on the multiple stages of the tourist lifecycle.

Return on ad spend analysis and marketing mix studies in the tourism space often do not credit banner ads with driving DMO revenue. Not to say banner ads do not serve a purpose, because they do—they are supplements to the greater media strategy of the most successful destination marketing campaigns.   Thus, only running banner ads is a mistake. The best way for a banner to work is in conjunction with other creative formats and additional media channels.

Give People a Reason to Become Familiar with the Brand  

As consumers, we see destination marketing all the time—what we don’t always get is the opportunity to experience that destination. The influence and encouragement of someone to visit a destination stems from the pending experiences the city or country will bring them.  Creative needs to inspire users to get more information…to interact with the brand.

Agencies can talk to organizations about advertising goals all day, but if audiences are not getting the chance to experience new destinations through the creative, DMOs won’t achieve their business goals. It goes back to the old saying, “if you got it, flaunt it”. Show consumers what the brand has to offer, and let them get a taste of it via the creative.

“The best tacos in town”— Your stomach should growl when you see the image

“The cleanest and clearest beaches”— You should imagine yourself surfing instead of sitting at your desk.

Interacting with the destination and virtually putting yourself in the shoes of a tourist (or literally, depending on creative execution), has the potential to increase visitation, lengthen average vacation duration, and even increase the revenue generated per tourist. Strategic advertising can grow brand awareness into brand familiarity, and then into brand advocacy. Give consumers the encouragement to do so.  Think about it.

Interactive Creative Is More Than Visual

When we think of “creative” in the advertising realm, we often think of “asset” and forget about the inherent, innovative meaning of the objective. There are many creative executions that can demonstrate a brand’s value. Walking the line between interactive creative and experiential creative, there are (OOH) out-of-home executions that forge a connection between brand and consumer. For example, heating a Chicago bus stop in January, while playing island music, and live streaming a pool party definitely makes a point. Witnesses gain a sense of what it means to travel to XYZ city.

There are several digital execution options as well. Consumers spend an average of forty minutes a day on Facebook alone, not including other social platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. There are ad formats on Facebook that bait the user to interact—why not let them? Tilting your phone can reveal almost 360 degrees of the destination landscape; it is the perfect Tourism backdrop.

Now, people can tune in to LIVE clips on social platforms to immerse themselves in what is going on in a certain destination. Better yet, users can comment on the live feed. Couple interactive creative units with the targeting and tracking capabilities of a media agency, and DMOs will see an impact.

Other Digital Executions to Promote Interaction:

  • Ad units and media channels that get your attention and promote social sharing: Increase your reach while increasing owned media and social presence
  • Listicle or Agenda: Make users wonder what the perfect 24 hour guide to your destination includes
  • User Designated Click-to-Play Videos: Find users who are interested in learning more

Use Interactive Creative to Measure Campaign Success

Travel and Tourism media campaigns are different from those of CPG, Retail, QSR, Education, etc. in that we are limited to how we can directly measure success attributed to media investment. Other verticals usually have (dare I say it) a more straightforward path to conversion; it may not always be simpler, or shorter, or less expensive, but industries outside of the tourism space, are typically more trackable. Travel and Tourism Boards should also turn to website engagement metrics as a proxy for immediate campaign success before we get visitation numbers, ADR metrics, SMARI data, and flight bookings.

With interactive creative, we can analyze and optimize metrics associated with engagement. It is safe to say that generally speaking, users who interact with creative and/or spend time on the website, are further along the conversion path and that much closer to visiting the destination.

Connecting Media and Creative is key – How can your media partner help?

Creative is not the only key player in marketing strategy. In the examples throughout, asset plus execution yields the strongest results. Making sure the creative teams and media team are in-sync is necessary in order to shepherd a successful campaign.

Use your media agency to identify new ways to use your existing creative assets you need to yield strong performance. Also, enable creative agencies and media agencies to work together in order to ensure your strategy will speak to consumers. At MBuy we can help destination brands can truly connect with consumers—let us show you how. Click here to learn more.

Helen Wagner

Senior Analyst, Strategy & Analytics, MBuy