In the late 90s, it was very fashionable to have an ‘e’ in your company name. That was the validation that your company was current, cutting edge and cool. Sadly, a lot of these e-companies are long gone and only a few have successfully carried on with the ‘e’ name – E-Trade and eBay are some that come to mind. Last week, I attended the 14th annual e-Tourism Summit travel conference in San Francisco and it was exciting to see the ‘e’ staying alive and thriving in the travel category.
The theme was “What’s New, What’s Next, What Matters” and the 215 attendees represented major U.S. and international destinations, attractions and large travel media publishers. The two-day event was buzzing with new ideas which reminded me of those early days in the mid-to-late 90s when ‘e’ stood for something powerful and life changing. This time it was in the way technology and digital media advancements are changing the jobs of marketers and enhancing consumer experiences.
Destination marketers are faced with many challenges: growing the role their organizations play in the local economies, attracting visitors through creative marketing strategies, and finally measuring ROI in a meaningful way. I was particularly interested in all the discussions on how technology and Big Data have been reshaping the metrics CVBs use for measuring success.
With enormous amounts of actionable data points and enhanced analytics, today we have the tools to track what really matters. We are still monitoring some of the common metrics like clicks, page views and on-site engagement, but most destination marketers are now focused on more mature metrics like number of destination visitors that resulted from exposure to an ad, their share of global wallet, and ultimately the overall economic impact the ad spend drove to their city or state.
The membership driven nature of many CVBs has been pushing KPIs in the direction of conversions. It’s no longer good enough to drive a large volume of clicks and traffic to your beautiful website — which is a fairly easy and inexpensive task today — but true success is measured by the quality of these visitors and their purchase power, and actual visits to the destination.
This ability to track and optimize for such metrics and results makes it a very exciting time in destination marketing.
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