Lights, Camera, Activations!: Experiential Marketing for Destinations

“Sooner or later, everything old is new again.”

Stephen King

Nostalgia always sells. The pandemic forced people into their personal digital corners, but everyone is ready to come out and rejoin the “town square.” It’s time to re-embrace the channels and tactics of yesteryear to reconnect with consumers in a more meaningful and nostalgic way.

The Marketing Landscape

Marketers are blessed with emerging technologies that give deeper insights into audiences and greater abilities to reach consumers than ever before. However, there’s something about digital advertising that some consumers can find inauthentic — and with over 10 million advertisers, the digital space is crowded. That’s why it’s important to make a cognizant effort to connect with consumers on an emotional level from the jump.

The pandemic has also exacerbated some troubling social trends. Digital fatigue, parasocial relationship disorder, tech-stress, and digital detox are real challenges that consumers are dealing with. You need to be present in the digital space, but people are looking for opportunities to reconnect through disconnecting — requiring marketers to emphasize offline strategies in their marketing mix.  

One-to-One Connections

A DMO’s primary goal should be to make personal connections with their target audiences. You can’t just cast a wide net and reach as many people as possible. Marketers need to flip the traditional sales funnel and begin the consumer’s journey by making genuine connections with a small group, and then scaling communications up through likeminded audiences or word-of-mouth.

General self promotion is no longer enough. Just display and banner ads aren’t enough to make an impact. Consumers are looking for something more, and to truly make a lasting connection, DMOs must engage prospective travelers through multiple ways. They need to connect with consumers’ senses by giving them something to listen to, touch, or physically experience — creating a memorable interaction. A great first step in that endeavor is for DMOs to venture out and meet travelers where they are through experiential marketing. See how we help some of our partner destinations develop and execute activations. 

Port Aransas in Austin

Visit Port Aransas and Madden brought the island life inland with our activation in Austin. Passersby could experience everything from getting your photo taken on a famous Port Aransas golf cart to watching a sandcastle sculptor with some island music in the background. The true distillation of the Visit Port Aransas brand was brought right to a key target audience. We focused on having people live out the Port Aransas experience, from touch to taste. Young people spent hours playing cornhole and collecting merchandise from the island.

Madden led the way with organizing and executing the details of the activation. With a main focus of expanding brand awareness of Port Aransas as an island escape for Texas families and ensuring Port Aransas’s iconic Texas SandFest had a part in the day as well.. The activation successfully showcased the brand, increased destination awareness with a key audience, and helped inspire a new generation to start a new tradition for family and leisure getaways.

We deployed complementary media tactics including radio ads, geofencing, and out-of-home ads, which drove nearly 4,000 page views on a custom landing page we built for the activation. The activation led to over 330 new leads for Visit Port Aransas.

Visit Cheyenne in Dallas-Fort Worth

Visit Cheyenne wanted to grow their brand awareness in an engaged target market. Identifying strong growth in web traffic and visitations from the Dallas-Fort Worth DMA, Madden and Visit Cheyenne planned a three-day activation in the market. 

We orchestrated an in-market activation alongside high-trafficked events during the American Rodeo at the historic Fort Worth Stockyards. This included two in-person activations at Billy Bob’s Texas, encouraging sweepstake signups and utilizing Cheyenne ambassadors to speak with potential visitors. This was coupled with an intimate, yet casual PR event with vetted media, and promotional from paid media tactics. 

Through our efforts, we saw strong results from the campaign including a 179% increase in DMA traffic from the previous year, 350% goal achievement for video distribution, and nearly 6,000 sweepstakes signups compared to an original goal of 833 leads. 

Experiential Marketing

Meeting travelers where they are in the physical world provides an opportunity to truly make a connection. These activations create an opportunity to distribute branded merchandise and collateral (both digital and physical) to continue building relationships with prospective visitors.

Especially after a few years where in-person interactions were scarce, experiential marketing activations are an ideal way to make a lasting impression with travelers. 

Share This
Reach out today to plan your activation