Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Matt Albertazzi, left, and Rich Alercio of Casella Waste Management headquartered in Rutland explain new recycling systems to Susan MacLean, second from left, and Victoria Milstone.
KILLINGTON — Print and broadcast media are still part of the equation but the Internet combined with the explosion of smartphones is changing the state's tourism marketing strategy.
It's a strategy that is allowing the state to collect a database of consumer information, targeting visitors based on their specific interests.
This winter the Department of Tourism and Marketing used South Station in Boston for a marketing campaign to drive would-be visitors to www.pathtovermont.com. It included daily text-to-win giveaways. In all, the state received nearly 6,000 text message entries.
“We used a number of different assets to drive consumers to this site,” Steve Cook, deputy commissioner of the Department of Tourism and Marketing, told the 29th annual Travel Industry Conference last week. “And our strategy is primarily regeneration, developing a group of active, engaged consumers who we can continue to collaborate and promote special last-minute packages, special last-minute promotions … not just through the winter season but in future seasons as well.”
The bulk of the visits to the state's website were accessed through home or office computers. But Cook said a “significant portion” of visits was driven by mobile devices.
“So as we move forward into our summer strategy we're working to include mobile as a large part of our marketing mix,” Cook said.
The state's $750,000 summer marketing campaign includes $500,000 in state funds and $250,000 from private sector partners like Cabot cheese and the state's golf courses.
Cook said the summer campaign is geared toward driving visitors to the state's travel site, www.VermontVacation.com.
The national marketing effort that begins May 1 includes Google ads and its partnership with Dish Network. Google's partnership with the satellite TV firm extends the state's television marketing reach at an affordable price.
The state will also use Outside Television, a cable network that promotes the outdoors lifestyle, and YouTube. Orbitz, the online travel site, is also another venue for the state's promotions.
Cook said geo-targeting will be part of the mix as well using Google and Pandora. Geo-targeting aims a marketing effort at a limited number of people based on their location.
Regional marketing will target Boston, New York and Montreal. Ads will appear on NESN, the Boston Red Sox network, with Vermont Day at Fenway Park set for Aug. 5.
Commissioner of Tourism and Marketing Megan Smith said her department is working to raise awareness about the importance of the industry.
Smith's efforts include the production of two videos available on the department's YouTube channel. One is aimed at students who may want to consider a career in the hospitality sector. The other video is geared toward impressing Vermont lawmakers on the economic contributions of the industry – an industry that attracts 13.7 million visitors who spend $1.42 billion a year.
The state's tourism industry faced a monumental challenge last year when Tropical Storm Irene roiled the state just before the onset of the fall foliage season.
In his luncheon remarks to the 200 attendees, Lawrence Miller, the secretary of the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, noted the extraordinary effort of Vermonters and those in the tourism sector in the immediate aftermath of Irene.
Miller singled out the generosity of innkeepers who opened their “doors for people … who lost their homes, or were stranded travelers.”
He also said those who make their living in the hospitality business left a lasting impression with those from outside the state who helped in the recovery efforts.
“It was really telling to me how many of the people I worked with during that time from away, who go to disasters for a living all over the country,” Miller said, “who so appreciated the reception they had here, the hospitality they received while they were doing the work to help us recover.”
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