Since everything that happened last year had to stay within that zip code (yes people, this is a real rule we all must respect to protect the guilty) the destination marketing world turned to the city of Austin, Texas for this year’s convention, DMAI 101 with record breaking attendance.
Austin Exceeds Expectations
It was fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk hot, but not only did Austin live up to the hype, it surpassed it! There is a reason people are flocking to move to this funky city…
It’s worth mentioning that Austin truly owns the ‘weird’ with a heavy splash of local flair. Austin has the biggest urban bat population in the country. Yes, bats. Not the kind you hit a ball with – the flying, Dracula kind. About 1.5 million of them live under the Congress Ave Bridge from March through November and they take flight daily at dusk.
Other interesting facts: The State Capitol building is the biggest of all state capitols in terms of square footage (only the US Capitol in D.C. is bigger); there are more than 100 live music venues in Austin; Austin has the only Formula 1 race track in the US; and to end it on a high note, there are no topless laws in Austin, which dates back to the City Council wanting gender equality in the 1970s.
Sojern Joins in the Fun
The Sojern Tourism crew did our part in “Keeping Austin Weird” by co-hosting an 80’s themed party at the Vulcan Gas Company with a beloved local cover band called the Spazmatics (which could also be used to describe some of the dance moves I witnessed, but I digress…)
Our guests included top level representatives and good friends from major destinations within the US. We even got to sing “Happy Birthday” to Chris Thompson, CEO of Brand USA.
Now for DMAI Proper
DMAI sessions were impactful, including the opening keynote featuring New York Times bestselling author Josh Linkner who focused on the importance of disruption in order to achieve greatness within an organization.
Sojern’s Sylvia Weiler represented us in a panel session titled Hacking The Conversion Code: Secrets of Destinations Research. This session highlighted a first-in-industry grassroots collaboration between Sojern, Destination Analysts, and Miles, and our partner Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater, as well as an interesting project between New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation and Arrivalist.
The St Pete/Clearwater trailblazing collaboration combined traditional marketing research with digital attribution and showed how the right partners, with the right strategy can help destinations better plan media buying based on traveler behavior. It’s okay, big data, go ahead and flex your muscles!
Change in digital is the only constant we can count on. The need for marketers to reach the right people at the right time will never waiver. Leaving Austin, I was inspired by how digital continues to positively transform the tourism industry. Programmatic is a core driving force behind this next age of digital marketing, where technology and personalized inspiration intersect.
As Sojern increasingly asserts itself as the leader in programmatic advertising for the travel space, we will continue to create new and innovative ways to put our partners’ messaging in front of consumers at all the moments that matter.
And we’ll do it with a big ole’ grin on our faces…
Looking to join our team and get in on this fun? Check out our careers page for the latest openings.