I don't often quote from "Anchorman" (OK maybe I do), but there's no better way to capture Visit Spokane's annual meeting celebrating travel and tourism, and educating the local community on how to tap the market potential of this important, economic driver. Safe to say then, "Tourism in Spokane: It's Kind of a Big Deal."
How big is a "big deal"?
Glad you asked! Statewide tourism spending in the state of Washington increased by 4.6% in 2012 over the previous year. Tourism spending in Spokane increased by 7% in the same period, raking in about 600 million in visitor dollars, and when you think about the fact that they have a budget of 3.8 million, that's a whopping 15,700% return on investment.
No small potatoes for a destination this close to the Idaho border, if you're picking up what I'm putting down.
How does it happen?
DMAI's Executive Vice President and COO, Victoria Isley, traveled to attend Visit Spokane's annual meeting and presented on the complexities of destination marketing and how the evolution of travel search and buying impacts the way DMOs like Visit Spokane continue to communicate with travelers. Here are some takeaways:
Destination marketing is complicated.
We operate in a saturated market with a long sales funnel and multiple stakeholder and competitor relationships to manage along the way. In fact, it's less of a funnel these days than it is a twirl-a-whirl. Our job is to make sure our shared, owned, earned, and paid media are all in sync to drive demand for our destinations. We harness the travel industry's economic power for our communities' benefit.
But our tools serve a clear purpose.
When all's said and done, our marketing tools are a means to an end. While consumers may visit 22 websites on average when planning a trip, no one makes a list of websites they want to visit before they die. Getting someone to visit your website is not the end game. Your website, or any other marketing medium, should ultimately help get your destination on people's bucket lists.
And they work.
As word of mouth is still the most trusted source of information for travelers, it's up to DMOs to establish the right mix of channels that not only tells your destination's story, but also makes storytellers out of your visitors. It's about personal expression and not just media impressions, and the more we create the kind of experiences that make visitors want to share, the more we can look forward to bringing economic growth to our local stakeholders.
We're so glad to have participated in Visit Spokane's "Big Meeting" this year with several hundred tourism stakeholders. With all the upcoming developments like those surrounding their mobile visitor center, customized visitor service training program for their community, convention center expansion and new, 700-room downtown hotel by local hotelier Walt Worthy, DMAI looks forward to another great meeting in 2014.