The future was looking bright for Alamosa CVB—and not just because of their notoriously bluebird skies. Since 2015, Alamosa had been making steady progress developing its reputation as a diverse drive-to destination located in South-Central Colorado. Centered in the heart of what’s referred to as the majestic San Luis Valley, Alamosa has landed on the radar for many travelers because of its authentic culture, eccentric attractions, and abundance of unworldly views.
The decision to expand upon Alamosa’s marketing budget in 2019 was made by Kale Mortenson, Alamosa CVB Marketing Director, after reporting on another year of record-setting figures.
“2019 was a year for the record books and we felt our community come together for forward progress. Both Lodging Tax and Marketing District Tax collections broke record figures. The Great Sand Dunes National Park was a majority contributor, seeing a record number of visitors this year.” -Kale, Alamosa CVB.
Setting the Bar
Having been a full-service client of Agency’s for years, we sat down with Kale and his team in late 2019 for what we’d consider to be an ambitiously-minded meeting. The conversation was about setting goals for 2020. Kale understood that there was still ample opportunity to further optimize our current digital marketing efforts as well as pioneer Alamosa as a leader through sustainable tourism strategies—an overarching goal of the organization. He decided to expand his marketing budget to do just that.
“2019 set a high bar but 2020 holds an opportunity to continue smart growth and improve upon our current target markets.” -Kale, Alamosa CVB.
Agency Tourism Marketing founder, Jason Herzog, identified email marketing as a viable tactic Alamosa had been an active user of Tourism Engine—Agency’s proprietary email software—for years but he felt that they weren’t using it to its full potential. Tourism Engine excels when it has the ability to connect a user between multiple touch-points, which opens the door for us to send highly relevant messages. After showcasing recent goals achieved through email automation strategies with clients such as Travel Oregon & Visit Seaside, Kale and his team were on board to give it a try.
“Marketing Automation provides a way to integrate with many other marketing components like email marketing, interest-based data collection, surveys, list building, e-commerce, and itinerary building. Whatever projects we choose to move forward with, and whatever budget we allocate to marketing components could be multiplied by integrating it with a marketing automation strategy.” -Jason Herzog, Agency Tourism Marketing President.
Off we went to the drawing board. Our first revelation was the idea that this project could achieve intersecting objectives between generating website traffic, increasing the amount of visitor guide requests, and growing engagement. Next, we drew up automation paths from various event triggers and started building our content and tracking mechanisms. One component of the initial design looked something like this:
At the completion of the project, we had set up three different event triggers relating to Alamosa’s website along with an assortment of carefully curated and conditional content.
The end result? Since the project’s launch, we’ve seen a 36% increase in visitor guide requests and a 40% increase in website traffic sourced from email year-over-year.
The Icing on the Cake
If you don’t already know, user-generated content (UGC) is a great strategy for giving your digital communications an extra boost, often increasing engagement and click-through. Since signing on with CrowdRiff, Alamosa has done just that by implementing their web galleries into various locations across their website. To further utilize this technology, we decided to develop a plugin specific to Tourism Engine that allows for direct sourcing of content through the CrowdRiff app. While it’s still being beta-testing, we used this plugin to source all imagery used for Alamosa’s automation campaign which further boosted engagement across the board.
This is what we at Agency call a win-win-win situation:
✅ Win #1: Prospective visitor reading the email consumes high quality and engaging content
✅ Win #2: Sourcing images for the email is easier than ever
✅ Win #3: The original content producer has their handle showcased along with a link to their profile or original post (either or)
It probably goes without saying, but we really enjoy when everyone comes out a winner.
We’re not done yet! We plan to optimize Alamosa’s email automation campaigns further by implementing more relatable content for the end-user. As the season’s change and marketing calendars navigate the pandemic, messaging and topics will change as well. We see these changes as opportunities to connect with future visitors and showcase all that this destination has to offer.
ColoradoInfo.com is overflowing with travel resources spanning information about destinations, attractions, deals, visitor guides and more. If you’ve heard of a fun activity to do in Colorado, chances are you can find a plethora of relevant resources located on their website. The challenge at hand was figuring out a way to effortlessly share “leads” with their clients; respective destinations, attractions, and hospitality locations. What they needed was to be able to automatically send the leads info to the right place when the consumer showed interest or made an action (like requesting a visitor guide) for that specific place. Tourism Engine was just the tool for the job. Aside from operating as an email platform at the surface, the back end looks more like a light CRM and has the ability to manage and share large amounts of data and reports between partners.
To this day, ColoradoInfo.com remains at the forefront of online travel planning websites and powers the lead generation of hundreds of organizations through Tourism Engine.
It all started with the spark of an idea from Seaside’s Director of Tourism Marketing, Joshua Heineman. He found himself in conversation with a colleague who predicted a future where web visitors to SeasideOR.com could be served a unique landing page based on their personal interest. This idea is a perfect match for Tourism Engine, our proprietary email system that thrives on serving emails to recipients with the right message at the right time. Coupled with Joshua’s challenge to increase visitation during the off-season, the project unfolded right in front of us. Loving nothing more than building custom solutions for the needs of an individual client, we were eager to get to work.
The solution was to build a personalized email campaign tailored to visitor interests within Tourism Engine. Users who opted-into Seaside’s email newsletter or requested a visitor guide would get an automated message, which would send them down a highly personalized email automation route based on preferences and interests provided. After a two-week period, consumers would receive a final email that gifts them a custom itinerary (complete with custom CrowdRiff visuals) to inspire them to make the trip. This highly personalized journey resulted in a 30% increase in visitor guide requests and a 50% increase in email newsletter sign-ups. Since then, we’ve deployed similar automation strategies for other DMO’s seeing similar results.
Read more about the story told by the CrowdRiff team, here.
Alamosa CVB is located in the heart of the San Luis Valley, offering visitors with an eclectic and authentic outdoor experience. The Great Sand Dunes, Sangre de Cristo mountains, multiple hot springs, Native American heritage and friendly community atmosphere make it an increasingly popular drive-to destination. Although still at the early stage of its destination life cycle, Alamosa and its surrounding area has an immense amount to offer travelers making it feel much like a hidden gem with endless activities to uncover. Currently a full service client of ours, we’ve helped elevate this DMO over the last few years by establishing their adventurous brand and telling the story that is Alamosa.
While Alamosa has a rich history and interesting destination to showcase, it wasn’t meeting it’s potential. We picked up this opportunity and implemented SEO efforts. In 2019’s Q3, we performed a deep dive into SEO work, with much emphasis pertaining to the content about the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the region’s favored attraction. From audit to execution, the results came back showing an increase in pageviews (compared to the same time-frame as the previous year) by 167% and a reduced bounce rate of 3%. Website traffic coming from organic search increased by 56% increase and average time on the Great Sand Dunes page increased by 41%. Today we continue to utilize SEO and inspiring storytelling content to help convert lookers into bookers.
For those who have visited Durango, you likely have been or heard of the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad really. As one of the town’s most popular attractions, it’s responsible for a sizable amount of regional tourism spend annually. Having worked closely with American Heritage Railways and their respective railways on numerous projects over the last few years, our team has a passion for marketing these unique and historic attractions.
2018 was a challenging year for DSNGRR. Due to nearby forest fires, they were forced to limit operations during the peak of their summer season, the attraction’s busiest time. After reviewing their marketing efforts in Q4, we made a handful of suggestions which included a revised plan for paid search efforts utilizing Google Search (formerly AdWords). We recommended a modest budget increase and were handed the reigns. By the end of 2019, we increased average ROAS by 48% to 69x, conversions increased by 223%, and we saw a 45% increase in conversion rate to 5.06%.
Since then, we’ve continued to optimize and strengthen these efforts and are still yielding a desirable return today in 2020.
An image makes a story more compelling; it shows a scene better than words ever could, which is why using images in any marketing campaign is always a good idea. Their downfall? File size.
Even optimized JPGs and PNGs can grow the file size of a webpage or email exponentially, so it’s important to make sure the images you use are sized correctly for their use.
GIFs have great versatility for digital marketing. They are eye-catching, loop automatically, usually have a small file size, and they look great in an email or on a webpage.
We already talked about how to make a GIF sideshow, but maybe you’ve got a video that you want to make into a GIF. We recently launched an itinerary planner on Alamosa.org and we used a GIF to demonstrate how to use the planner, and also to show it off a bit. Here’s how we did it:
Since COVID-19 reared its ugly head and flipped the script for travel and tourism destinations across the globe, industry leaders have been quick to adopt revised marketing strategies to address the shift in consumer behavior. For many, this plan incorporates a phased approach towards reopening and welcoming back travelers with new safety precautions in place. The Colorado Tourism Office, for example, adopted a route called “Wait, Ready, Set, Go”, which spans the initial travel hiatus to the inevitable rebound of tourism and business as usual. The good news is that most believe we’re past the first phase and onto the next where we can expect to see early adopters of travel making their way to nearby, familiar and less risky destinations.
The truth about the road to recovery is that no destination’s situation is the same. For that reason, we’re here to offer some guidance.
It’s no secret that the ski resort business is hypercompetitive. When resorts aren’t concerned about weather forecasts, they’re focusing on reaching new audience segments and growing their skier base; a challenging task when ski resort conglomerates like Alterra Mountain Co. and Vail Resorts are absorbing market share. Loveland Ski Area, located 53 miles west of Denver Colorado, sought out our team to help plan and execute a paid social media campaign to drive their season pass sales. The “season pass” product is launched annually in a highly competitive landscape as most ski resorts execute their own campaigns around the same timeframe. Responsible for the majority of annual product revenue, the success of this campaign is crucial in helping the resort reach its annual goals.
When this campaign was said and done, we earned over 8x the return on ad spend. This success was made possible by combining our agency’s deep understanding for the snowsports industry and prowess in serving highly detailed, precise ads through Facebook and Instagram. Our paid social campaign leveraged key audience segments, lookalike audiences, and retargeting strategies while communicating Loveland’s highest value points through a tone that was on brand.
Are you creating an email for an event, a sale, or a holiday? This countdown timer is the perfect add-on to create some urgency to your customers. We’ve recently implemented this new feature for Tourism Engine and want to show you how it works!
It can be styled to your liking and branding using the following parameters (in pixels, unless otherwise noted):