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Congratulations to the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau for receiving the 2013 Best Website RedBud Award from the Oklahoma Travel Industry Association. The CVB was honored at the OTIA's RedBud Awards Ceremony, which is an annual event recognizing Oklahoma tourism attractions, Convention & Vistors Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, ad agencies, event managers and regional marketing organizations for their outstanding efforts to serve and promote Oklahoma's tourism industry.
The Oklahoma City CVB team receiving their 2013 RedBud Award for Best Website. Pictured from left to right: Jenifer Reynolds (MC for the awards), Seth Spillman (Director, Marketing and Communications), Elisa Milbourn (Communications Manager), Brittany White (Marketing and Communications Coordinator), Mike Carrier (President), and Oklahoma Lt. Governor Todd Lamb (MC for the awards).
"RedBud Awards represent the highest honor given in the Oklahoma tourism industry," said Debra Bailey, President/CEO of the OTIA." This year, we received entries on behalf of outstanding tourism efforts from all across our state."
The Oklahoma City CVB's site - VisitOKC.com - has been recognized by other travel and tourism industry organizations since launching its latest version. This includes receiving a 2012 Bronze Adrian Award from Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International.
As Simpleview was a partner on VisitOKC.com, we are excited that this forward-thinking bureau has been continually recognized for their site and hard work. This site is just one small step the team is taking to attract visitors to this hip, spirited destination that blends their deep western heritage.
Known as America's Sailing Capital, Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay area provides plenty of fun activities and attractions for visitors. The destination offers miles of shoreline and maritime villages to explore. Moreover, the area restaurants offer some of the tastiest seafood available in Maryland, regardless if the diner is a "roll-up-your-sleeves" person or someone who prefers an elegant indoor setting with a window's view to the serene waterways.
To capture the essence of this region, the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau reached out to us to freshen up their web presence. This included integrating all of their internal data into a centralized system - Simpleview CRM - and allows their staff to easily update the site content with our content management system. In addition, we worked in collaboration with the bureau's creative agency to implement a new look across VisitAnnapolis.org and their mobile site, m.VisitAnnapolis.org.
However, one of the more inventive features of this site deals with their integration with our revenue generation department - the Destination Travel Network. To help provide exposure to local partners and bring in additional money for marketing efforts, the bureau has incorporated online advertising space in a bold and unique way. This includes offering their entire header module as ad space, having the ability for our DTN Account Executives to sell each block to Annapolis area businesses.
The advertising opportunities don't stop with the header module, as the bureau has additional widgets that can serve targeted placements. This includes a region map that provides suggestions on what to do in metropolitan Baltimore, Annapolis and the surrounding countryside toward Washington D.C. As visitors click on each part of the map, a new set of geo-centric ads will appear for area restaurants, hotels and events.
On top of this major feature, the site has several other functions worth checking out:
- Visual Navigation - Annapolis and Anne Arundel County had a large photo library to draw upon, allowing us to build a picture-focused navigation on interior pages. This was done to show people some of the sights and scenes they can experience when they visit.
- Filter Listings by Search - Not only can you filter lodging choices by type and location, you can do a true keyword search to find the exact information you want. This is a great tool for finding a specific brand property, such as Marriott hotels in the region or waterfront lodging.
- Tablet-compliant - Our development team made sure all features would work on a tablet device, such as an iPad. This meant keeping drop-down menus off the site and keeping the design friendly towards touch-based actions like swiping and pinching.
I was curious about SEO-related questions our sales team and account managers get when they are meeting with prospects and customers. Below are five of the most frequently asked questions and short(ish) answers I put together. My next post will address the other five, rounding out the full "Top 10" list.
1. Can I just do SEO for a few months?
You can, but you don't want to. Websites are organic - they constantly change and evolve. SEO is the same way. We're often asked for short SEO contracts because our clients just want to ‘get SEO over with' and move on. That just can't happen. Throughout the month, we're conducting a lot of various tasks - monitoring your website via Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, adding additional Event and Goal tracking, performing on-page optimization, answering questions, tracking campaigns, making SEO and usability recommendations, all while correcting crawl errors, broken links and spelling errors. We're also analyzing the information coming through and making adjustments, while staying on top of current research in the SEO field - reading blogs and newsletters, attending conferences, following the major SEO players, performing trial and error on our sites, etc.
2. Can you get us to rank for this super general term, like ‘ski'?
While the traffic numbers for very general terms can seem enticing, there are two major reasons why you would not want to pursue such broad keywords.
One is sheer difficulty. Google has decided to bias itself in favor of major brands, especially for brand terms, as a means of keeping low-quality sites out of its rankings. Sometimes this isn't fair, but it means that it's extraordinarily difficult to compete with major, widely known and visited sites for keywords used by people looking for information not relevant to your destination.
The second reason helps us understand why this isn't such a bad thing. Of all the people searching for information on some broad subject that is not related to your destination, the vast majority will not be looking for the type of content you have to offer. That is to say, they're not well-qualified leads. Just as it wouldn't be productive to blast your email to large numbers of people that are not interested in what you have to offer, it wouldn't be productive to invest the resources necessary to gain rankings for a very broad term given the low conversion rate you're likely to experience with that prospective audience.
3. We need a guarantee that we will have the top 10 search engine rankings for target keywords. If I pay you to do SEO, is this in the bag?
The goal of any online marketing campaign should be increased exposure, traffic and conversions. While all of the on-page and off-page optimization we do will most likely increase your rankings over time, nothing is ‘in the bag.'
Google alone changes its algorithm 500-600 times a year; while most of these alterations are minor, every once in a while Google rolls out a major update to their algorithm that may affect your website in major ways. We stay on top of what popular search engines (such as Google, Yahoo! and Bing) are doing and make changes to the way we are doing things when needed.
Additionally, there are thousands of words used each year to search for your site, some of which are "long-tail" (longer and more specific, but are less common). So, if you just focus on how you're ranking for those 10 "short-tail" words (the most popular or frequently searched) you're missing out on thousands of other terms. These "long-tail" terms may send less traffic, but the visitors will be more likely to be highly qualified and more apt to make conversions on your site.
At Simpleview, we track your rankings monthly for a minimum of 25 keyword phrases, but we're constantly adding to that list. And through our monthly correspondence, you're getting much more than that. You can't forget about those thousands of other phrases that can potentially send traffic to your site. As Google starts to look at you as the authority on all things your destination has to offer, you will start to rank for a lot of those long-tail keywords (increasing your traffic), regardless of if you're ranking #1, 2 or 3 for those keywords that you deem most important (but may not be keyword phrases that convert).
4. Do you do this in-house or is this a third party?
Our SEM team operates here at Simpleview. We're a department of 14 people (a few missing from the group shot below), and growing. We will never outsource the SEO work on your website.
5. Do I get one person working on my account? I only want one contact. What do the reports look like?
You will get one SEM analyst that you'll work closely with every month. This is the person who will hold your monthly calls, be available to answer questions, send your reports and email you throughout the month with suggestions. Although that analyst has a team of 13 other people working with her/him, you will only need to remember one person's name to contact with any questions.
As for the reports, we can send you a sample SEO report at any time. Just give us a call.
Erin Lair is a Search Engine Marketing Analyst for Simpleview. For questions regarding this post, visit our 'What We Do' page to learn more about our SEM services.
Destination marketing organizations from all around the United States have been celebrating National Travel and Tourism Week, which has been annually held during the first full week of May since 1984.
Since its establishment, the U.S. travel and tourism industry has collectively marked the event in a number of creative ways, from staging local rallies and conducting media outreach to securing proclamations and resolutions from local legislative bodies.
The state of the industry in 2013 is extremely positive and gives communities across the nation plenty of reason to celebrate, based on findings from the U.S. Travel Association. It generated $2.0 trillion in economic output in 2012, with $855.4 billion spent directly by domestic and international travelers that spurred an additional $1.1 trillion in other industries. Additionally, direct spending by resident and international travelers in the U.S. averaged $2.3 billion a day, $97.6 million an hour, $1.6 million a minute and $27,125 a second.
The economic impact from travel and tourism is strong, resulting as one of the top 10 industries in 48 states and D.C. in terms of employment. In fact, one out every eight jobs in the U.S. depends on it.
Many of Simpleview's clients have held events and campaigns throughout the week to recognize National Travel and Tourism Week. We're proud of their efforts and enthusiasm to share the world about the industry's impact in fun ways. Here is a sampling of what we have seen:
- Visit Eau Claire officially kicked off their summer season with the national celebration. This includes setting up a "Fun Patrol" car that will be driving around Wisconsin to pass out "I Love Travel" stickers, sunglasses and information about the local events visitors can attend.
- The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau has been serving complimentary refreshments during the week at their visitors centers. In addition, the Myrtle Beach International Airport visitor center has been hosting live music throughout the week.
- The Central Pennsylvania Convention and Visitors Bureau decided to give away gifts, prizes and tickets for area businesses and attractions at their visitor center. This includes drawings to win an overnight stay at the region's hotels and other lodging properties.
- Several DMOs are highlighting their local craft breweries and beer-focused restaurants during the week, while drumming up votes to earn the Beer City USA 2013 title. Two of our clients - the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau and Experience Grand Rapids - represent destinations that currently hold the title. You can vote for the next "Beer City" here and learn more about the competition here.
Rich in history and easily accessible from New York and Philadelphia, Trenton is emerging as New Jersey's foremost destination for culture and the arts. With its distinctive exhibits, exceptional entertainment venues and a variety of eclectic dining options, Trenton is more than just the state capital of New Jersey.
That's why the Trenton Downtown Association wanted to revamp their site - DestinationTrenton.com, striving to make it a spot for learning about what's available to visitors in this southernmost city in the Tri-State Region. This included migrating their internal data to Simpleview CRM for easy collection and incorporating Simpleview CMS for their staff to update the site content as needed.
In addition, we worked with them to develop a fresh look for the site that reflects its heritage as one of the key cities in the American Revolution, all while showcasing its vibrant arts community and modern attractions. The Downtown Association knew that they could service their visitors better through a full update with rich graphics and relevant content.
From joining thousands of visitors for Patriots’ Week to simply catching a baseball game at Waterfront Park, there is plenty to see and do in lively and historic Trenton. We encourage you to pop on over to DestinationTrenton.com and start planning your trip to New Jersey’s capital city.
Charlotte, NC (April 9, 2013) - Ridgemont Equity Partners, a middle market buyout and growth equity investor, today announced the closing of an equity investment in Simpleview, Inc., the leading provider of software and digital marketing services to Destination Marketing Organizations ("DMOs"). The existing management team, led by CEO Ryan George and President Rich Reasons, will continue to run the business and has invested alongside Ridgemont in the transaction. The financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, Simpleview provides a cloud-based comprehensive technology platform which connects DMOs around the world to travelers, meeting planners, and local businesses. The company's services include Customer Relationship Management software, Content Management Systems, interactive marketing services and a vertical ad network. DMOs implement Simpleview's products to attract travelers to their area and drive economic impact through a streamlined sales and marketing process.
"Simpleview is the clear leader in software and services for the DMO market," said Kurt Leedy, a Vice President at Ridgemont. "Our team has been highly impressed with the platform Simpleview has created and we share the Company's vision for its next stage of growth. We look forward to working with the Simpleview management team and its talented group of innovators."
"Our partnership with Ridgemont enables Simpleview to grow by scaling our already robust service offering and expanding our customer reach, both nationally and globally," said Ryan George, CEO of Simpleview. "We are very excited to join forces with this experienced investment team and anticipate an even brighter future for our company, the destinations that we serve, and the tourism industry overall."
"Ridgemont's investment in Simpleview is a natural addition to our fund," said George Morgan, a Partner at Ridgemont. "Our team has been actively seeking opportunities to invest in vertically-focused software-as-a-service businesses, and the reputation that Simpleview has built as a forward-thinking market leader, coupled with our financial and operational discipline, will be essential elements in the execution of the company's promising growth plans."
ArchPoint Partners served as exclusive financial advisor to Simpleview and Silicon Valley Bank provided financing for the transaction.
Simpleview offers integrated products and services for destination marketing organizations (DMOs), including the industry's most advanced customer relationship management (CRM) platform and content management system (CMS), forecasting and reporting tools, websites, mobile sites, search engine optimization and interactive marketing services. Simpleview works with more than 200 U.S. and international DMOs. Learn more at www.simpleviewinc.com.
About Ridgemont Equity Partners
Ridgemont Equity Partners is a Charlotte-based private equity firm that specializes in middle market buyout and growth equity investments. Since 1993, the principals of Ridgemont have invested over $3 billion in more than 110 companies. The firm focuses on investments of $25 million to $75 million in industries in which it has deep expertise, including basic industries and services, energy, healthcare, and telecommunications/media/technology. www.ridgemontep.com.
Between combined efforts from the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau and their partners, the Alabama destination has won the opportunity to host the 2013 Social Media Tourism Symposium. Better known as SoMeT, which is one of the top conferences in our industry about social media and content development, hundreds of tourism professionals will descend on the city to learn and network November 6-8 this year.
To determine which destination would host the conference, the SoMeT organizers open up the choice to a public vote between destinations that submitted a worthy RFP. This included locations such as Cleveland, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and several others. Votes were tallied via Facebook and the competing destinations' CVBs rallied their communities, placing signage in local malls and spreading the word via their social media channels. In the final competition, Huntsville beat Missoula, Montana with a final score of 13,769 to 10,755 votes.
According to Charles Winters, who is the executive vice president of the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, the win was a team effort between the entire Huntsville community.
"I think we wanted it more than anyone else in the competition, and we knew we could do it," he said in a report from AL.com. "This is the Rocket City. This is Alabama. When we do something, we do it to win. That's the attitude we went into this with and we knew that if we were effective in getting the word out, that the votes would show that."
As the Huntsville/Madison County CVB is a Simpleview client, we are excited for their success and to send our team to Alabama for this year's SoMeT. We also would like to congratulate our other participating clients - the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area CVB, Positively Cleveland, Visit Milwaukee and Experience Grand Rapids - for their hard work and competitive spirit throughout the competition.
For more information about the 2013 Social Media Tourism Symposium, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SoMeTourism.
Known around the world as "The OC," Orange County envelops leisure and business travelers in the ultimate Southern California lifestyle...casual sophistication, pristine beaches, legendary theme parks and endless options for fun in the sun or cultural exploration. With sun-soaked days and star-filled nights, visitors will be immersed in a real California dream.
That is the feeling our team developed with the Orange County Visitors Association when creating a new look and designing features for their site - VisittheOC.com. This includes using our customer relationship management system - Simpleview CRM - to manage all of their internal data in a centralized location and updating their site content with Simpleview CMS. In addition, our creative team worked closely to develop a bright, vibrant design for the site, which included an on-site creative brief to fully understand all the OC has to offer visitors.
Some of the site's exciting features include:
- Tabbed Widgets - To quickly find attractions and events happening in the county, we developed a widget that could support rich media and has tabs to sort the content. The association's new Things to Do can help visitors navigate quickly to information about Knott's Berry Farm, whale watching trips and surfing opportunities.
- Amenities Filtering - When visitors are choosing a particular restaurant, they may want to eat somewhere that is gluten-free or is more suitable for breakfast than dinner. The site supports this option, making it simple to sort listings by selecting a series of fields determined by the visitors association.
These are just a few of the new additions to the Orange County Visitors Association's site, so pop over to it to check out all the changes and learn more about this exciting destination! After all, the OC is home to 42 miles of beaches, magical adventures at the Disneyland Resort and plenty renowned art festivals, all of which are highlighted on VisittheOC.com.
According to reports from the Warren County Convention and Visitors Bureau, spending related to sporting events in their destination should hit a record $48.5 million in 2013. If the bureau's projections come to fruition, this would be a 27 percent revenue increase from the previous year.
The official destination marketing organization for Warren County, Ohio, expects to host more than 80 sports-related events throughout the year and anticipates the events will fill 60,000 room nights at area hotels. Last year, they hosted 60 events that accounted for 53,000 room nights and more than $38 million in economic impact to the destination.
Ben Huffman, who is the director of sports marketing for the CVB, said these events include six baseball and 18 girls' basketball tournaments. Several of the events are ones that the bureau has created or owned.
This is exciting news for the Warren County CVB, which is a Simpleview client, and all of the businesses in the county that will benefit from these sporting events. For more information, read the full article from the Dayton Business Journal.
The Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which serves the business and nonprofit communities of Aspen, Colorado, recently received top honors from the Western Association of Chamber Executives (W.A.C.E.) for their website - aspenchamber.org.
The chamber was presented with the first place award in the "Web Site" category at the 2013 W.A.C.E. Conference in Burlingame, California. The site was chosen by the judging committee for exceeding expectations in the following areas:
- "Overall Design - overall impression of the look and feel of the web site, graphics, ease of use and navigation, support of chamber brand, photography, feature rich, content prioritized by use and importance, etc.
- Content - overall quality, timeliness and relevance of information, clear concise text, high quality photography, no typos or bad grammar, addresses primary audience(s), etc.
- Search Engine Optimization - does the chamber web site appear on the first page listing of major search engines like Google, etc."
In the third quarter of 2012, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association launched the latest version of their website. We worked with their team to re-skin the website and add fresh features to their Simpleview content management system (CMS), all to aid visitors when planning their trips to the town. For more information about the site's enhancements, read our blog post from last year.
For more information about W.A.C.E. and their annual awards for the chamber industry, visit WACEonline.com.