Boost Reveues with Added Consumer Insights
Databases, like the human brain, are rarely performing to their full capacity. Adding intelligence to your consumer database by appending profile information is a surefire way to increase effectiveness. Not only will the extra information give you greater insight for variable fulfillment opportunities, it also enables you to shape product and content offerings accordingly.
Other benefits include:
• Optimized return on investment
• Improved response rates
• Reduced fulfillment and resource costs
• Increased access to information
• Enhanced snapshots of database information
• Cleansed data
• Targeted marketing materials and messages S
So what exactly does “appending information” mean?
Basically, when a visitor comes to your website or if a person is added to your database, there are technologies and processes that allow for greater gathering of lifestyle and behavior information. The type of information that can be gathered varies, but can include specific indicators like age, estimated income, dwelling type, presence of children, education and marital status. With such information, you can create send more relevant messages and materials to your existing database of inquiries. Imagine sending a specific offer regarding family entertainment options to a consumer that you know has young children or high-end restaurant recommendations to a more affluent visitor. Plus, you can take these efforts further by targeting marketing efforts to households that have similar profiles to your most frequent inquiry clusters. Adding intelligence through data appending will not only save you money, but will make the money you spend more effective. That’s why in today’s economy, adding intelligence to your database is something that all destination marketing organizations should consider.
Partnering for Success: Answers from David DuBois
Have you heard about or considered formulating official marketing partnerships with other destinations? If you haven’t, these partnerships are entered into by multiple destination marketing organizations to help best utilize resources while cross promoting and selling. We delved into one of these partnerships by sitting down with David DuBois, CMP, CAE, President and CEO, Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, who has formulated such a partnership.
II: Industry Insider, DD: David Dubois
II: Who is your partnership with?
DD: Our three-city partnership, called 3 City Express, is an agreement between the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association and the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau. The arrangement is unique to the meetings and convention industry and was developed with one common goal in mind -- to increase citywide convention bookings and meetings for all three partner cities.
II: In general, how does the partnership work?
DD: Each city contributed one sales representative to the partnership, and these three members work as a united sales team cross selling and marketing all three destinations. They work with clients across all business segments and communicate the outstanding attributes of all three destinations. If one city isn’t a good fit for a group, the sales staff will continue to push the other two destinations. Ann Garvey, CMP, works with organizations in the Eastern U.S., Robin O’Connor represents each of the three cities in the Central U.S., and Julie Gorman works with our clients in the Western U.S.
II: What is the ‘theory’ behind your unique 3 City Express Partnership?
DD: The partnership is based on a national hotel model that encourages groups to sign multi-year contracts at properties located around the country, often with an incentive for doing so.
II: What are the benefits of partnering?
DD: By joining forces and sharing three salespeople, the partner cities have the ability to be more competitive by offering possible discounts for booking Baltimore, Fort Worth and Sacramento in a multi-year deal.
II: What is an example of how this type of partnership can make a success?
DD: Recently a contact of mine told me that his organization was looking for an East Coast destination to host a meeting. I suggested that he look at Baltimore, part of our three city partnership. The result is that the show liked what they saw in Baltimore including their convention center, hotel package and airport accessibility. This past fall, that particular show signed an agreement to have their meeting, which will bring in over 3,000 attendees, in Baltimore for five years starting in 2010.
II: For those interested, where should they start? What should they look for in potential partners?
DD: Each of our three cities offers the clients a uniquely exciting city experience combined with similar convention packages. These are major reasons why this sales partnership is so appealing. Cities interested in forming an arrangement like 3 City Express should look for other cities that complement their own meetings and convention package but are not necessarily direct competitors.
Smart Search Engine Strategies in a Down Economy
With no immediate end in sight for our struggling economy, it may be time to reevaluate your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. SEO, in layman’s terms, is where your website ends up on a search engine results page when your key terms are searched by a user. For example, when someone searches Google for “great family vacation value” does your site rise to the top of the results or are you buried beneath a list of competitors? Studies show that up to 90% of website traffic comes from SEO. Add to this the tremendous percentage of people researching destinations online, and it becomes quite obvious why SEO is so important. In light of heavy competition from other websites that may list your destination’s name or its amenities, how do you improve your search engine results? Are there quick tips to boost my SEO?
While quick tips and “to-dos” will only get you so far, there are three quick rules-of-thumb to help boost your SEO.
1) The most important element in increasing your SEO is your content. DMOs must publish quality content on their website—often--to keep the website “alive" to the search engine spiders.
2) One frequently overlooked and vital SEO element is the use of reciprocal links. Your website should be linked from your partners’ websites and vice versa. Think not in terms of just quantity, but also quality. An outsourced or professional SEO firm may have a useful member/partner link report that shows how many members or partners currently link to your website.
3) The third element to increasing SEO is to implement an updated and relevant blog. With a blog, like with the rest of the website, the content is key.
So what are good topics for your blog? It should focus on the destination, of course, and include things that stand out and are current or upcoming; perhaps a new restaurant or art gallery showing? Another great blog strategy is to parlay a current event with something of interest in the blogosphere. For example, today “green” and “eco-friendly” are hot topics, so highlighting a restaurant or hotel going green will take your blog to new heights. As to whether your blog should be generated in-house or by a professional partner, it again comes down to time, resources and knowhow as blogging, while simple on the surface, can have great positive impact on your SEO if done right. Should I hire professionals to increase SEO? In the DMO marketplace, the question to outsource to professionals or handle in house really depends on a few factors. The number one factor is the size and competitiveness of the destination to rank for its own branded terms. The more people in the mix the harder it will be to rank, especially just using in-house methods and tactics. Other factors are obviously budget and the size of the website. The larger a website is, the more time, money and resources will have to be devoted to increasing its SEO.
Sunny.org Launches Dynamic, User-Friendly Site Embracing Emerging Technology and Trends
While long regarded as one of the best websites in the industry, the previous version of Greater Ft. Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau’s (GFLCVB) sunny.org had, as all websites do, become outdated in both user interface and technology. With the last major overhaul taking place in 2006, GFLCVB decided it was time for a change. How did they know? Taking great pride in their website, GFLCVB cited many factors as contributing to the decision to redesign their website including new technologies, industry trends, and branding/marketing strategies. Further, as their website is their number one marketing tool, the timing was right for a new site given the availability of new and updated systems, applications and user interface technologies. In general, many DMOs completely redesign their website every two to three years, although in some cases a “facelift”-- minor design and functional modifications--are implemented every one to two years. In creating sunny.org, there were many built-in elements that will maximize its convenience and effectiveness.
Here are some tips for any destination website, all of which were incorporated into sunny.org:
• Must be visually appealing
• Conveys the experience and incites the feelings, desired or associated, with a destination or its current marketing plans
• Easy to use and navigate
• Information is organized logically and is easy to find
• Provide tools for, at minimum, three major audiences; potential visitors, meeting planners and media
• Appropriately uses other DMO specific tools like a listing application, calendar of events, information request forms, reservations integration, itinerary building tools and interactive mapping
• Leverage dynamic Web 2.0 features like blogs, video and webcams
• Create a content development strategy and copy platform to produce fresh, timely, compelling and relevant content that speaks to your core audiences
How exactly did sunny.org achieve some of the above? Many of the greatest features of the new sunny.org website are immediately apparent in its appearance. The home page’s animation of the area’s skyline provides the user with a sense of the lifestyle that can be found in Fort Lauderdale. Further inspection reveals animated bubbles that float up from the “sea floor.” These bubbles are interactive (a simple click will make them burst) and are generated randomly and dynamically. The latest in programming technology creates each bubble as its own unique interactive element of the site, making each visit to sunny.org a new experience. And for those who can’t make it to Greater Fort Lauderdale in person, four webcams provide a live look at Fort Lauderdale’s beaches: http://www.sunny.org/webcam/. Further, the site leverages five content templates and five listing templates, including the “meeting hotels search” feature which allows for quick comparison of the information that meeting planners require: http://www.sunny.org/meetings/hotels/search/.
Sunny.org also included a mapping solution that automatically plots each business’ location on a Google map. As aesthetically unique as sunny.org may be, the tools behind the site are equally impressive. The administrators of Sunny.org now have the ability to quickly and easily create new pages and sections of the website that can pull in dynamic database-driven content such as industry partner listings, events, forms, and multimedia. Administrators can also designate the title and accompanying images, editorial content, and links for those areas. The result of all these tools is a nearly countless number of page configurations – each of which having the appearance of a custom-designed page. Sunny.org is truly a next generation website, and they are again on the forefront of technology and design solutions.
Are We There Yet? The Importance of Mapping
Interactive mapping, the feature that allows an individual to find or plot destinations like restaurants, bars or points of interest (POIs), is an incredibly useful tool. In fact, mapping solutions like Mapquest receive nearly 41 million visitors per month. Yet at the same time, it is one of the most frequently overlooked features on a destination’s website. Current numbers show that just 20% of current simpleview customers are using an interactive mapping solution. What benefits will you experience from using interactive mapping solutions? First, they allow you to maximize your partnerships by enabling links from your CMS and CRM tools to send visitors to your database of attractions, restaurants, resorts and events. Using your tools, you can find which locations visitors are searching for, and can either put more emphasis on such locations, like greater visibility on your website, or show the value you are providing to locations by showing them mapping reports. Of course, mapping integration also is a great convenience for both business and leisure travelers in your destination. Further, some companies like Navteq aggregate POI information from localized sources, including CVBs, and package that information so they can broadcast it to a larger audience through other sites, mobile platforms and in-car navigation systems. This benefits you because such syndication helps to spread your messages to sites and devices that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. As for aesthetics, there are a variety of looks and feels you can give your mapping solution, depending on which service you use and how you choose to implement it. There are turnkey solutions with embedded multi-category maps, thumbnail images, and “map it” links. You can also package or modify maps in a number of ways, including creating category specific maps, map itineraries and calendar items, and you can also provide maps inside listing detail screens complete with driving directions. Depending on your solution, you can also have access to their tools. For example, if you implement a Google Maps solution, you will have access all of their services and applications like Street View. While mapping solutions vary based on provider and budget, it’s another important tool to enhance the user experience and demonstrate value to your partners.