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Great Marketing Comes with Great Responsibility

Consumers expect brands—including destinations—to think beyond the bottom line and deploy responsible marketing. Marketers have a duty to protect the privacy of the individuals they are trying to reach, embrace inclusivity with personalized content, prove the ROI, and integrate environmentally sustainable practices whenever possible. 

How can agencies and marketing organizations in the tourism industry increase responsible marketing? From combatting over-tourism to creating environmentally responsible publications, your organization can choose to follow socially responsible practices and become leaders in making travel more sustainable. 

Madden believes in actively developing long-term growth alongside our partners through conscientious marketing. Together, we can lead the way to thoughtful and responsible promotion of travel.

Inclusivity and Diversity

As we think about the challenges of 2020, none came to light more than the challenges we face trying to be a fully inclusive society. When we think about how to become more welcoming to all travelers, having a team that is inclusive and representative of the country is one of the most important ways to embody and affect change. As a company, we are committed to seeking consistent, sustained improvement. Consider your team dynamics and how you are building your organizations. To build a diverse organization requires work on recruitment, it does not just happen.

As marketers, we look to continue to evolve our marketing practices to better represent all of the population and not just those that have the perceived highest value. Some of the ways we are working with DMOs to become more inclusive include:

Review Partner Listings: Are you featuring Black-owned business in your partner listings? Are there ways to highlight diverse businesses in a way you haven’t done before? Help your partners update their Google My Business listings.

Inclusivity starts with us — embedding equity in all aspects of our organization. The more diverse voices we have at each table, the more trusted spaces we have to listen, learn and amplify compelling stories. Creating this culture is critical to our shared success.

Sheretha Bell, Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau

One of our partners, Discover Atlanta, has taken a leadership role in building inclusivity into their efforts. Working with them, we asked local Black writers to give an unfiltered review of their favorite places in Atlanta so that travelers would get an authentic view of the city’s nightlife, outdoor activities, dining, history, and more. Each piece of content includes a headshot and bio from the writers as well as photos of themselves throughout the city. Including these details reinforces Discover Atlanta’s commitment to representative storytelling and resonates more strongly with their target audiences.

Working with Atlanta on their new website, we worked with their team to bring creative assets highlighting a wide variety of people—giving their storytelling the ability to cut across demographics and compel a wide variety of people to visit and enjoy Atlanta’s unique combination of cuisine, culture, and community experiences. 

It’s vital to think about your audiences and create content that makes meaningful, authentic connections. Think about how people from different walks of life will find a photo or video snippet of someone who looks like them enjoying your destination. Investing in inclusive, diverse, and welcoming creative assets (and content!) not only helps our society get closer to universal allyship, but it’s more effective in compelling people to visit.

Environmental Impact

Sustainable Tourism

As travel marketers, our goal is to connect people to places, encourage exploration, and increase tourism year over year. However, from overcrowding to the deterioration of fragile environments, too many visitors can be harmful to local communities. At the destination level, local DMOs have the responsibility to educate prospective visitors about under-trafficked areas so that they can have a truly unique experience, not just everyone else’s vacation. Discovering less explored locations, attractions, and restaurants makes for a more balanced destination. 

Madden recommends implementing Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Programs and Responsible Visit Campaigns to our partners—all businesses and community members should unite together to reduce the impact of overtourism.

As travel marketers, we have a responsibility to proactively communicate and educate prospective visitors with information necessary for a unique and wonderful experience that protects and respects our destinations and residents.

Matt Borud, Idaho Department of Commerce

One of our partners, Visit Idaho partnered with a number of their stakeholders to promote responsible recreation throughout Idaho. The outdoor recreation community throughout the COVID pandemic saw many more visitors, especially many first-time visitors that were less familiar with the outdoors. Through the partnership, our team was able to work together to match responsible recreation messages with those individuals who were most likely to visit. This involved both a strong video campaign and information made available to help visitors and residents alike recreate more responsibly at

Effective Use of Natural Resources

Our history began with promoting destinations through visitor guides, and there are many ways we can improve the practices and processes used to be more eco-friendly. By utilizing page counts that minimize waste when printing and downsizing pages for efficiency, visitor guides become far more environment-friendly. 

We love sustainable paper, we think it is a more environmentally conscious approach than recycled paper. Paper recycling uses more energy than plastic recycling, it requires chemicals to strip the paper, and you can only reuse the paper seven times before the fibers are too small. To be truly sustainable and environmentally conscious, and give your guide high quality paper, we recommend getting paper from trees that are grown and harvested in an earth-friendly way. These trees are planted and harvested in a way that doesn’t interfere with the habitat and use rainwater (Source: Sustainable vs. Recycled: Which Paper is Best?, Double A Paper).

Consumer Privacy

Complying with privacy laws is only the beginning of being trustworthy with consumer data. As consumers, we all want to know that our personal information is safe, so as marketers we should do all we can to respect and protect the personal information of our target audiences. We should go beyond the minimum efforts that are required and give consumers opportunities to opt out of data collection they’re uncomfortable with—besides, why waste your precious marketing dollars on people who aren’t likely to convert?

Madden takes privacy seriously, and we work closely with our partners to ensure the target audiences we’re reaching opt-in or consent to sharing the information we collect through responsible marketing. For example: 

Fiduciary Accountability

With the rise in technological advances and our ability to track ROI, it has become more important than ever for DMOs to prove the effectiveness of marketing efforts. Organizations from states to cities have been in the media spotlight fighting for their budgets. To execute responsible marketing, your agency must understand your need to report on the success of your campaigns to community members, stakeholders, board members, and partners. Reporting should be data-driven and provide transparent insights to show your budget is being used effectively with attributable results. At Madden, our clients are seeing success using our new destination intelligence platform, Voyage.  

Want to learn more about how your organization can deploy responsible marketing tactics? Let’s collaborate!

Reach out today to learn how you can marketing responsibly