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. 

Katy Spining: Growing a Career Through Purposeful Print & Processes

For over 40 years, Madden has served as a harbinger of creative storytelling. Our award-winning visitors guides have showcased over 200 destinations throughout the United States, contributing to the publication of thousands of previously untold stories. Dozens, if not hundreds, of people have contributed to the growth and success of these publications. However, for the past 22 years, there has been one constant: Katy Spining. 

Ask anyone at Madden what Katy does, and they’ll unanimously tell you she’s the queen of publications. That grand nickname is well deserved, as she reigns supreme over the processes required to deliver exceptional guides. With years of diverse work experience and training, Katy wears many crowns.

Where it all Began

Receiving her degree in Photojournalism from Northern Arizona University, Katy’s transition into Madden’s world of visitors guides wasn’t a straight shot — instead, her education was the catalyst that set her on the path toward publishing. 

“Coming out of journalism training, I thought maybe I would work in newspapers,” Katy said. “But I found working on books and magazines to be much more interesting. Sure, I can write. But I learned I enjoy the project management side of things more.”

Starting her career path in public relations, Katy would later transition into the world of editing and editorial project management for textbook and trade book publishing — a transition (she would tell you) was a better fit. With experience overseeing the publication of cookbooks, children’s books, and textbooks on everything from astronomy and chemistry to art history, Katy relished the opportunity to grow in her role as both a project manager and an editor.

“It was really good training for where I eventually ended up with Madden,” Katy said. “It helped me bridge the gap between editing, content, and publication. I communicate with the client. I work with freelancers. I hire proofers. I build schedules. I make sure everything stays on track. My early work experience is really what set me up for where I’m at now.”

Helping Hands

At present, Katy singlehandedly curates, organizes, and manages the publication of seven active guides and consults on an additional six. And while she attributes her ability to manage so many projects simultaneously to her past work experiences, Katy also attributes her aptitude for publications to a history of solid role models.

“I’ve always had strong female role models,” Katy said. “Whether they were my bosses or my boss’s bosses, there are lots of high-level female editors in this field. When I started, I had a great mentor. I learned a lot from her. And ever since, it’s been one after another of strong female role models.”

In an industry comprised of 54% female employees, Katy is grateful for her peers and mentors that have helped lead her to the role she fills today.

“I think we’re kind of lucky in that sense that in this industry, especially on the editing side of things, it tends to be a female-heavy…or at the very least female equal,” Katy said.

Katy has also been one of those female mentors herself, having overseen teams of editors throughout her career with Madden. She estimates that she has trained close to 20 content team members during her career at Madden.

The Future of Pubs

With decades of experience as an editor and project manager for more than 25 of Madden’s visitor guides, Katy is a legend when it comes to destination marketing. Among the many roles she fills, storytelling savant is chief among them.

“Coming up with a pitch or story idea is one of my favorite things about the job,” Katy said. “Showcasing a destination and showing what’s unique or special about that place is one of my favorite things. After 22 plus years in the industry, you’d think I’d be out of ideas, but there’s always something new or special to say about a place.” 

Not unlike her own story, the stories Katy shares paint a colorful picture of both past and present. Through the seamless marriage of practical and creative, she is able to celebrate and spread the stories of destinations far and wide. And as the industry increasingly shifts toward virtual media, Katy believes that print media is here to stay.

“People have told me print is dying for over 15 years,” Katy said. “But publications have kept me busy, really busy, for a long, long time. And following COVID, as things have started to recover, I’ve never had so many publications on my plate at one time. People are hungry for publications that tell thoughtful and inspiring stories, and I’m glad to tell them.”

Jill Madden: Her Journey From College Student to Publisher

Madden Media didn’t start as a full-service advertising agency. In 1982, a group of friends from The University of Arizona decided to try their hands at publishing a magazine, and Tucson Guide was born. Of those five wildcats, one was a woman: Jill Madden. Her journey from the garage to the MacArthur Building is an inspiration for women everywhere. You see, she is the brawn behind the brains of her husband, Kevin Madden. And the two of them took a chance on love and publishing. 

In the Beginning

Jill’s story begins with love. Kevin graduated college in 1982 (a year before Jill) and headed west to California to make his mark selling ads in an independent yellow page book. While he didn’t want to return to Tucson, he came back because he couldn’t live without Jill.

At that time, the Sheraton El Conquistador was under construction (now known as the Hilton El Conquistador) and Kevin saw a niche they could fill: a visitors guide. So while Jill finished her last year in college, she helped put together a magazine that felt a lot like a school project. They even paid the delivery driver with beer and tip money to help offload hundreds of issues at their home and then threw a kegger. Much to Jill’s dad’s dismay, after she graduated with her degree in business administration with a major in finance in 1983, she decided to stick with magazine publishing and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Women In Advertising 

Back in the 80s, women in advertising and marketing were among the most accepted roles in the workforce. As Jill recalls, women made up the bulk of the advertising professionals at TV and radio stations and magazines across the city, excelling at the art of selling by building relationships. And when asked who the best salesperson was, most of the time, it was a woman. And as Tucson Guide grew, Jill was that salesperson for Madden Publishing. 

“My philosophy was always if it doesn’t work for my client, it doesn’t work for me,” Jill said. “I didn’t just go to a business to sell them something; I tried to make it work for them so they would continue advertising forever and always.”

She excelled in making relationships with clients that lasted for decades. What’s more, she worked as a team with Kevin, both recognizing when one or the other needed to step in to close a deal. As the years went by, Kevin purchased a preprint publishing company based in Florida that opened up markets in Missouri, Florida, and beyond, evolving the name from Madden Publishing to Madden Pre-Print Publishing. Noticing the shift to digital marketing, Kevin expanded into websites and digital marketing that led to the current company, Madden Media. While the company grew and expanded, Jill’s heart remained steadfastly with Tucson Guide reaching 120,000 annual circulation at its peak when it was Tucson Guide Quarterly. 

“I didn’t just go to a business to sell them something; I tried to make it work for them so they would continue advertising forever and always.”

Raising a Family with a Guide

While Tucson Guide was Jill’s first baby, she eventually had real babies — three girls — and as with many mothers, her priorities shifted. Luckily she was able to work from home before working from home was a thing, and it gave her the chance to continue her career while being a mom. 

“I loved being a mom. I loved picking them up from the bus. I coached their soccer teams for ten years. I liked driving them to practices, and I was at every swim meet and every soccer game,” Jill said.“I wouldn’t change that for the world.” 

Her dedication to her family did take a professional toll. In between her kids’ activities, she met with clients and multi-tasked from her car to still make Tucson Guide work for her clients. Her busy lifestyle kept her from physically being in the office eight hours a day. While she wasn’t physically present, she worked tirelessly to keep her professional relationships strong in order to publish one of Tucson’s most beloved visitor guides. And while Tucson Guide grew into a resounding success, Jill will tell you that the best thing she ever did was raising her three girls.

A Career Well Spent

Today Jill enjoys the spoils of her hard work. While she no longer sells advertising space in the Tucson Guide, she is happy it has a new female owner and publisher Katie Bailey, a former Madden Media employee who purchased their flagship publication in 2021. As Jill sees it, Katie adopted her baby, and she couldn’t be happier. 

“I feel like somebody else loves that baby as much as I did,” Jill said. “Our company grew so much, and it was hard for anybody to give that magazine what it deserved with so many other things going on. I’m very happy about this outcome.”

Creative Director Katy Livingston Joins Madden Media

Madden Media ushered in spring with a refreshing addition to the creative team. Katy Livingston brings over a decade of design and art direction as Madden’s newest Creative Director. Livingston’s award-winning experience, working in different verticals alongside tourism, offers a fresh approach and outsider view of the tourism industry. Her experience promises to further propel the creative-driven solutions we deliver to destinations around the country.

A woman leans against a tree wearing a coat, hat and circular mirror sunglasses in the forest carpeted with snow.

“Katy has a funky, fresh approach to design and has proven her creativity and understanding of the tourism landscape with award-winning work for Martin County, Florida,” said VP of Destination Strategy Jamie Claudio. “Plus, she will use her experiences designing concepts for other industries, such as wellness and retail, to deliver next-level creative concepts and unique approaches to destination marketing.”

Livingston graduated with a bachelor of fine arts, visual communications from The University of Kansas in 2007 and has spent years developing a flair and passion for visual storytelling. Originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma, her career took her to Lawrence, Kansas, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida before landing her in Denver, Colorado. Livingston’s most recent role was as the creative director at Medium Giant, a full-service marketing agency, where she worked with brand planning teams to identify and execute strong, unifying brand concepts across all advertising mediums. Previously, she has designed for diverse publications, including fine arts, weddings, pets, and city-focused magazines, as well as developing brands from scratch.

At Madden Media, Livingston will lead a dynamic creative team developing new, big ideas to deliver holistic solutions for our clients such as Visit Tampa Bay, Visit Buffalo Niagara, and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast on Team Honey Badger.

In her spare time, Livingston practices yoga, earning a yoga teacher training certification. She loves traveling of all kinds (international as well as road trips and camping with friends), concerts (especially at Red Rocks), knitting, macramé, drawing, and collaging. She lives with her husband in Denver with two fur-babies (13-year-old, three-legged dog Wayne and cat Eugene) and lots of house plant babies.

Black Voices in Travel Marketing

Representation in the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau 

In 2019, Black Americans spent 109.4 billion dollars—yes, billion with a b—on travel. However, despite being an economic powerhouse within the travel leisure sector, the community continued to lack thoughtful representation. The Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau (ACVB) was among the agencies that led the charge toward more meaningful inclusion and change.

Known as a community that prides itself on diversity, ACVB sought to promote authentic portrayals in all their marketing efforts. That’s why, in 2019, ACVB partnered with Madden to curate a website that better showcased and celebrated Atlanta’s full spectrum of diversity. The result was DiscoverAtlanta.com, a website that has won an eTSY award and two HSMAI Adrian Awards, including a Gold Award for Diversity Marketing.

Authenticity is Key

With a majority Black population, it was critical to highlight Black voices on the new site.

To further align with its value propositions of diversity, boldness, and collaboration, ACVB and Madden worked directly with local Black content creators to write inspiring, personal stories.

These stories highlighted the writers’ favorite places to spend time in Atlanta, which granted prospective travelers a local’s view of the city’s outdoor activities, dining, history, and more. With seven local writers contributing to over 15 unique stories, visitors were able to learn more about Atlanta through content like “Celebrating Black Art in Atlanta” and “2 Days in Black-Owned Atlanta.”

In addition to the first-person immersive stories that were now being told, staff writers developed additional features such as “Black-Owned Businesses in Atlanta You Should Know” and “How to Celebrate Juneteenth in Atlanta.”

Representation Matters

Representation matters in the storytelling of a destination, especially one as multicultural as Atlanta. That’s why each piece of content includes a headshot and bio from the writer, as well as photos of them exploring the city. Including these details further personalizes the content from a local’s perspective while featuring stories, activities, and places that are intriguing and popular for travelers.

We also added disadvantaged business entity (DBE) status to partner listings to show which small businesses were owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

Sustained Growth

With a marketing strategy built upon authentic experiences and told by local writers, ACVB was able to deliver on their diversity and inclusion goals for the new site. However, the work didn’t stop there. In an effort to sustain meaningful change, the mechanics of the site were rebuilt to target travel interests, as opposed to personas defined by specific demographics. Having a site developed around travel intents enabled us to deliver travel content to people of all demographics. Through defining users by their interests, we are able to reach and represent everyone, as opposed to pigeon-holing marketing efforts into specific population segments. 

This interest-based targeting was reinforced by content recommendation technology that was integrated sitewide. Using our research findings, Madden segmented Atlanta’s audiences by the destinations value propositions, landmarks, cuisine, attractions, entertainment, and experiences that would resonate with each distinct audience. 

Learn more about responsible marketing efforts here.

2021 HSMAI Adrian Award Client Wins

Madden Media is excited to announce four of our clients won a total of six 2021 HSMAI Adrian Awards for work we’ve done in collaboration with them. The HSMAI Adrian Awards recognize hospitality brands and agencies for creativity and innovation in advertising, digital marketing, and public relations. We are proud to share our clients’ accolades and applaud the outstanding destination marketing we did together during a challenging year for our industry. 

Congratulations to the following destinations:

Gold Awards

  • Atlanta CVB
  • Idaho Department of Commerce-Tourism Development

Bronze Awards

  • Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce
  • Visit Tampa Bay (three award wins)

Atlanta CVB — Diversity Marketing

DiscoverAtlanta.com brought the essence of Atlanta to life. Working with Madden to redesign their website, Atlanta CVB’s new site spotlights the destination’s pride in its diversity through representative storytelling and creative assets. You can read more about how we showcased diversity and inclusion in the site’s design and worked with Black content creators to highlight the city’s culture and Black-owned businesses here. This is the second Adrian Award in two years for Atlanta CVB. Last year, DiscoverAtlanta.com won a Silver HSMAI Adrian Award in the Digital Marketing – Web Site category.

Idaho Department of Commerce-Tourism Development — Digital Marketing Series – Multimedia

Visit Idaho was looking for a way to share real stories about the state’s cool winter experiences and warm memories visitors can make there. Idaho has numerous cold weather activities and attractions. Visit Idaho showcased winter stories in a video series that highlighted the different things to do during an Idaho winter. To make the videos unique, they paired the locals’ stories with colorful and dynamic animation.

Port Aransas Tourism Bureau and Chamber of Commerce — Contest/Sweepstakes

The pandemic caused many Texas businesses to close, and these restrictions were especially harmful to the bar and restaurant industry. In an effort to drive visitors and residents to local bars, Visit Port Aransas aimed to create an event similar to Shop Arounds and Restaurant Weeks. Working with Madden, the Visit Port Aransas team created a bracket-style Margarita Madness campaign.

Visit Tampa Bay — Advertising Campaign – Complete Campaign

Visit Tampa Bay is a top destination offering a combination of urban and outdoor experiences, but wanted to expand their targeting beyond family travelers and attract more Gen Z and Millennial visitors. Madden created the “Unlock Your Inner Pirate” campaign to highlight fun experiences young people can have in the destination.

We identified key experiences millennials travel to do, including Instagrammable moments like hanging around the pool, drinking and eating, and exciting attractions. We chose to center the campaign around video, as it’s the most popular medium and set us up to deploy engaging ads on the channels young travelers interact with the most, such as social media and Connected TV.

Visit Tampa Bay — Digital Single Item – Video

We produced videos of young people having fun and experiencing the things they aim to do when on vacation, such as drinking by the pool, exploring and taking selfies in the city, eating out, and doing photo-worthy activities like zip lining. The main characters in the video embodied the essence of experiencing a Tampa Bay vacation, embracing the “inner pirate” spirit — sassy, classy, and a little bad-assy. The high-energy videos showed activities young people enjoy doing on vacation. Everything about the videos was aligned with this target audience’s interests, including the background music emulating their well-loved music genres.

Visit Tampa Bay — Integrated Marketing Campaign for Consumers

Visit Tampa Bay was interested in showcasing their growing craft beer scene with an engaging and inspiring landing page. “Bay Crafted” was designed to highlight fun, alcohol-related material

and things to do in Tampa Bay. The landing page includes a set of six videos created to introduce Tampa Bay area brewers and their products. Also included are full brewery listings, corresponding events, access to the Visit Tampa Bay Cocktail Book “Tampa with a Twist” and direct access to sign up for the Bay Crafted Pass, a mobile-exclusive passport that unlocks prizes at each participating brewery you “check-in” at.

Voyage: What’s New in 2022

We’re such big data nerds, we built our own destination intelligence platform. Last year, Voyage helped over 40 destinations across the country lead their destination marketing efforts with data-driven insights and easy to access reporting. We are not content to stop there, and continue to ensure Voyage remains the top destination intelligence platform for DMOs.

Voyage provides DMOs (and our team) with location and visitation data, competitor insights, hotel and lodging data, marketing reports, and economic data in easy-to-understand dashboards — informing every element of their marketing strategy. The improvements didn’t stop there though. Here’s what’s new in Voyage in 2022. 

Resident vs. Non-Resident Comparison

Voyage features state-of-the-art location data capabilities, giving destinations the ability to track the number of people in their destination, how many people are visiting points of interest, and the origin market of those individuals. 

We enhanced this capability to give Voyage users the ability to segment location data into residents and non-residents. With this information, DMOs can identify what points of interest are most trafficked by non-residents. This reveals insights into usage that help DMOs better understand the value of tourism, and which areas of their destination are most vulnerable to over-tourism—or most dependent on visitors.

Visitor Spending

Voyage’s visitation data expands this year to include visitor spending. Now, DMOs will be able to better understand visitor spending in their destination to make smarter marketing decisions.

What is a DMO’s purpose when driving more visitors isn’t its goal? With the new visitor spending capability in Voyage, DMOs can identify which origin markets bring the most valuable visitors into the community and focus advertising efforts on those markets. 

Enhanced Competitive Media Insights

Voyage’s industry-leading competitive intelligence only continues to improve. This year brings enhanced capabilities that add more channel tracking to the platform’s capabilities. Users will now be able to see estimates on campaign spending for competitor destinations on Connected TV and streaming platforms, as well as view their advertisements on those channels. These capabilities are in addition to Voyage’s established Facebook, Instagram, Google, and YouTube tracking abilities. Destinations are continually pressured to not cede ground to competitor destinations. With Voyage’s enhanced competitive media insights, DMOs can now expand the line of sight they have into their competitors’ media buying. This gives DMOs an informed opportunity to counter. 

But Wait, There’s More…

In addition to these advanced capabilities, we have also made changes to the user interface and functionality. We are always striving to improve user experience and make our platform as accessible as possible to users of all backgrounds and data science literacy. 

We Want to Hear From You

If you’re interested in gaining access to Voyage, please fill out the form below to set up a live demo with our team.

2022 Predictions Series: It’s Your Brand

We can all agree the name of the game is creating win-win partnerships that result in stronger relationships and long-term retention of visitors. By differentiating brand voice and delivery, destinations can speak directly to the disparate purposes of travel for disparate audiences. In 2022, it’ll be more important than ever to define your voice and visual brand.

Electrify Your Brand

Following the crowd is not always the best solution — so find your voice. All brands and destinations are unique and are shaped by different goals. You may be asking yourself, “what makes a good destination brand?” The foundation of a DMO brand is defined by its brand goals. Does your brand aim to highlight sustainability? To speak to Gen Z travelers? Whatever it is, a good brand tells the story of a destination to build emotional bonds and garner loyalty.Travelers will form their first impression of your destination based on your brand, so the stories you tell through your campaigns must embody the reasons why people visit your communities. 

The “First Handshake”

Travelers form their first impression of destinations based on a DMOs logo, tagline, and colors. For South Carolina’s Hammock Coast, the brand faced two issues: no one knew who they were, and they needed a way to differentiate themselves from Myrtle Beach. After auditing their competitors, we found that their brand needed a facelift. Through utilizing modern fonts, logos, and high-quality images, their brand became more evergreen and better communicated the laid-back atmosphere of the destination.

Brand Flexibility

For Visit Tampa Bay it was important to engage younger travelers and show how Tampa Bay is a great place to live, work, and explore. We took key elements of their DMO brand and integrated them into an economic development focused microsite, MakeItTampaBay.com. Through highlighting the entrepreneurial opportunities in key Tampa Bay industries, we were also able to lean into the destination’s youthful, fun, city-in-the-sun identity. 

Embody Your Brand Pillars

The Willamette Valley Visitors Association (WVVA) sought to completely transform their existing brand. Though visitors knew the region for its wine production, WVVA also wanted to lean into highlighting other brand pillars such as agritourism, natural resources, outdoor recreation, and artisan-made products. After redesigning their website and creating a new brand lexicon, in-market and out-of-home advertising and activations were deployed to ensure the brand’s new identity had an impact.

Building Out Your Brand

To tell your destination story, it’s important to develop a creative strategy that’s grounded in research. After defining key markets and competitors, you can begin concepting creative campaigns tailored to resonate with your target audiences. 

A dynamic concepting approach DMOs and agencies can use to develop brand narratives are stylescapes. These interactive creative sandboxes let destinations blend their brand identity elements and messaging to tell their brand story. By developing stylescapes and defining brand narratives, DMOs are welcomed into an agency’s creative space to work in tandem to build their new identity.

Be Your Own Kind of Weird

Be different and your own kind of weird — being a unique destination is what makes you stand out. Don’t try to look like everyone else, after all, your brand touches every aspect of your audiences’ engagement with you, and it should be aligned with what makes your destination most appealing. No matter how you wish to communicate the story of your community, Madden is here to help increase consumer consideration, position your destination, and engage travelers of all types.

Want More Tips & Insights?

Learn more about what 2022 will look like by following our blog, or on Facebook and LinkedIn, where we’ve shared a series of predictions from our team.

2022 Predictions Series: User Experience Above All

User experience is important to integrate throughout your entire marketing landscape. From search to digital marketing options and experiential marketing strategies, the recent explosion in options means too many choices to succeed. The best organizations focus strategies on fewer channels to do fewer things that better connect with their audiences. 

Experiential Marketing Makes a Comeback

Experiential marketing will make a big comeback in 2022, with audiences looking to participate in live, immersive experiences. This will come in many forms, whether it is physical, live-streaming, or virtual experiences on augmented reality platforms. Though VR/AR platforms offer questionable ROI and continue to be challenging to break into, they are still a noteworthy trend. 

Alternatively, in-person, immersive experiences continue to be fun, compelling, and highly shareable on social media. During an in-market activation with Visit Tampa Bay, consumers showed that audiences value these types of experiences. Destinations should balance in-destination and target market origin locations, especially if there is an opportunity to engage the creator economy, their platforms, and the ability to go live at any moment.

Curating Better Digital Experiences for Consumers

With nearly one billion people using ad blockers to avoid ads, there is no doubt that consumers want a better digital experience. Knowing this, it’s important to focus less on creating online ads consumers are predisposed to dislike and instead acquire audiences on their terms. Turn to collaborating with trusted influencers and emphasizing video advertising on platforms like TikTok.

We are also seeing a re-emergence in native advertising. Storytelling campaigns are a non-disruptive approach to content that seamlessly blends in with the design of sites. With compelling calls to action and engaging imagery, it is not surprising to see native ads perform over 10 times better than banners ads that went through multiple rounds of design and concepting.

Do Fewer, Better

It would be best to focus on doing fewer, better within your social channels. Quality outperforms quantity. Instead of posting multiple times a day, optimize for the best quality content and supplement it with paid amplification. While viral videos can happen, the algorithms are designed to make that an exception and not a rule. 

  • Focus on being there with the content for a social audience
  • Focus your ads and content around seasonal themes
  • Curate location-specific content
  • Write brief stories that promote live events specific to geographical locations

This will help drive your organic local community members and lead to growing opportunities to collaborate with your partners and other brands.

Want More Tips & Insights?

Learn more about what 2022 will look like by following our blog, or on Facebook and LinkedIn, where we’ve shared a series of predictions from our team.

Media Director Heather Molina Joins Madden Media

Madden Media welcomed the new year with a new employee. Heather Molina is a marketing strategist with almost two decades of experience who joins the team as a Managing Media Director. Her extensive agency experience combined with her globetrotting experiences brings a wealth of perspective to her position leading the development and execution of integrated media plans for destinations.

Heather Molina practices yoga while camping out in Antarctica.

In her most recent role, Molina focused on overseeing all growth marketing channel divisions and their revenue for the San Diego agency, Red Door Interactive. Prior to her work at Red Door, her marketing experience began as an SEO analyst at iProspect and progressed to large holding company agencies including Dentsu, WPP/GroupM, and Omnicom Media Group where she managed multiple performance marketing channel disciplines. She has also spent time working brand-side at Cheapflights.com as an internal digital marketing leader. Her career has taken her to agencies in Boston, New York City, San Diego, and Toronto.

“Heather’s background in digital and traditional marketing paired with her managerial experience makes her the perfect fit to lead our digital marketing team. She will work closely with destinations to create inspiring and high-performing omnichannel marketing campaigns,” said Ryan Callison, Vice President of Destination Strategy. 

In her spare time, Molina practices hot yoga and loves to travel to far-away places. Her most recent journeys took her to Shanghai, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Jordan, and Peru. In late 2013, she took a sabbatical and touched all seven continents.