Creative Marketing Efforts by DMOs to Attract Future Visitors

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a shift in all industries but tourism has been hit especially hard. As people remain reluctant to travel, DMOs are getting creative in their efforts to attract future visitors. SATW Associates weigh in on the varied marketing strategies they are using to help inspire a “dream now, travel later” mindset.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge aims to remain an unwavering support system for the Virginia’s Blue Ridge (VBR) region and hospitality industry throughout the phases of COVID-19.  We have been challenged to switch from a primarily “destination marketing organization” to “destination marketing and resource organization” strengthening how we serve local [tourism] businesses while keeping the destination’s brand top of mind externally.

 Immediately, Visit VBR developed online food/beverage takeout maps for each jurisdiction in VBR and highlighted businesses that were open, closed or offering curbside services. also housed an entire page for our local businesses with various funding and relief resources available as well as important pandemic updates. 

Next came the “Worth the Wait” campaign encouraging local residents and future visitors to dream about making new memories in Virginia’s Blue Ridge once it becomes safe.  The Worth the Wait video and campaign, conceptualized and developed entirely in-house, included things to enjoy “while you wait” like: VBR coloring sheets, Zoom backgrounds, virtual activities, bingo card, trivia and a popular destination-themed social distancing guide

Finally, Visit VBR implemented a VBR Stay Safe Pledge and Open for Business video to guide and support local businesses as we continue to work together to safely welcome visitors back to Virginia’s Blue Ridge. 

–Taylor Spellman, Director of PR, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Credit: Visit Phoenix

Visit Phoenix

The media relations team is producing a monthly webinar featuring wide and open spaces themes for Visit Phoenix. We produce the hour segment in-house and invite national and international experts to join us. We have created shows that include outdoor adventure, stargazing and agritourism. We invite global media to join us for each session.  It’s compelling, informative and offers camaraderie among media.  

–Doug MacKenzie – Dir. Of Media Relations, Visit Phoenix

Credit: Nebraska Tourism Commission

Nebraska Tourism Commission

The Nebraska Tourism Commission recognizes that many media journalists who are also parents are trying to balance both writing stories and homeschooling their kids so we decided to give them a break with a virtual event… for their kids! It was designed to showcase social distance-friendly road trip adventures through the eyes of their children, while also entertaining the kiddos for an hour. Each journalist was mailed a package for their child in advance that included items relevant to the experiences from five partners throughout the state (e.g. a frozen owl pellet to dissect with Fontenelle Forest; a tree to plant with Arbor Day Farm; etc.).

––Deborah Park, TURNER PR

Credit: Alexander Rubin and the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau

Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau

As travelers find comfort in things and places they know, Sonoma Valley offers a classic wine country experience and wide open spaces making 2020 the right time to visit. In October, harvest will be at its peak so creative new winery experiences – with social distancing practices in place – are very popular. Tastings in areas of the winery or vineyard that weren’t accessible to visitors before, combinations of art and wine tours and new food pairings with local restaurants.

Beyond the wineries our outdoors beckon. The area is home to many state and regional parks – Jack London State Historic Park, Sugarloaf Ridge State Park to name a few – allowing for natural social distancing while you hike, bike, ride and explore. The historic, 8-acre Sonoma Plaza is an ideal place to picnic, dine and wine taste – while staying safely apart.

The Sonoma Valley Safe initiative is a collaborative campaign targeted at visitors, businesses and the community. Sonoma Valley Safe reminds everyone to take care to wear a mask, keep a six-foot distance between parties and provides handy tips for keeping your visit safe and healthy as possible. Some communities are uncomfortable with outsiders coming for pleasure, but Sonoma Valley is working to make sure everyone is on board with the new safety protocols, while reminding residents that tourism is key to the local economy.

-Jennifer Sweeney – Jennifer Sweeney Communications

Credit: Travel Wisconsin

Travel Wisconsin

Travel Wisconsin partnered with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to develop a unique “Cheesecation” event in June. The virtual event took media on a roadtrip through Wisconsin to a cheese cave, a dairy farm and a popular cheese shop, where cheesemakers and a cheesemonger walked media through a tasting of their products. Interactive surprises were featured throughout the trip for engagement including polls, custom video footage, souvenir gift shopping – even the naming of a calf who was just born on one of the dairy farms! In advance of the event, the media received a curated delivery that included everything they needed to build a cheese board and taste along with the cheesemakers.

–Deborah Park, TURNER PR

Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa Tourism

In late June, Ottawa Tourism launched a free virtual discount passport called the #MyOttawa Pass. In late July, 15 more offers were added to bring the number of to more than 75 discount offerings. The pass was produced by a company called Bandwango and it allowed for contactless redemption of the discounts (users had access to the discounts on their mobile phones and simply clicked on REDEEM when they were ready), which included hotel stays, restaurant discounts, passes to attractions and tours, retail discounts, and more!

 Ottawa Tourism also launched a promotion called “It’s On Us.” If you book before September 30 at one of more than 30 participating hotels, for at least a two-night stay in Ottawa before December 31, 2020, you will receive (upon check-in) a $100 Visa gift card, to spend as you like. Of course, we anticipate people will use the card for restaurant meals, or admission to tours or attractions, or even souvenirs! We’ve seen a great response so far.

–Jantine Van Kregten, Director of Communications, Ottawa Tourism