Overtourism Summer Blog Series Part One: What is the purpose of a DMO?

What is the purpose of a DMO today? Like many organizations  during the pandemic, Madden examined our future and aspirations. In the past few years, the tourism industry faced its biggest challenges since the Great Recession. One of the biggest challenges was overtourism—destinations being overwhelmed by visitation volume that exacerbated their resources. 

It became clear that destinations needed more than traditional marketing efforts to solve their modern challenges. So, we developed non-traditional destination marketing strategies to mitigate the effects of overtourism and work in concert with our clients’ communities. When the purpose of a DMO is no longer driving visitations what should its marketing initiatives look to accomplish? 

We will highlight some of these strategies in this Overtourism Summer Blog Series. This summer, when many destinations will be experiencing their peak tourism seasons, we will outline ways destinations can mitigate overtourism over this four-part series. We will also spotlight ways we are putting these strategies into action for some of our DMO partners. 

This series will include an in-depth look at each of the following three initiatives, which destinations can embrace to overcome overtourism. 

Promote Sustainable Tourism

It’s not always about driving visitation. Sometimes, a destination already has all the visitors it can handle. We work strategically to develop campaigns that achieve key business initiatives focused on promoting sustainable tourism and environmental stewardship.

We have successfully developed campaigns for Discover Crystal River and Visit Idaho to responsibly market the destinations while respecting the fragile natural assets that make both places unique. 

Emphasize Value over Volume

When volume is no longer the priority, DMOs must adjust their media targeting strategies to emphasize increasing length of stay, in-destination spending, return visits, and more. This approach produces high-value visitations—trying to increase the ROI while tempering the volume of visitation.

We have leveraged destination intelligence for Visit Port Aransas to deploy this media strategy to generate high-value visitation. 

Improve Resident Sentiment

Residents are often an overlooked target audience. While they benefit from the positive effects of tourism, they also suffer consequences from negative effects. We believe our work can generate a positive collective impact that ripples across communities, and it’s vital to include your local stakeholders perspective as part of that work. 

We have launched a campaign for Port Aransas that tells the stories of residents. This campaign aimed to increase resident sentiment and ensured their voices are included in messaging. 

Collective Impact

This isn’t an exaggeration: travel makes the world a better place. Tax revenue builds parks and schools. Paychecks feed families. Exposure to new people and places builds empathy. Madden aims for our work to make an impact that ripples across generations. A key part of that work is helping DMOs overcome external challenges. We hope that over the course of this series you’ll gain insights to ensure that you can mitigate challenges brought on by overtourism, and ensure the collective impact your work makes is a positive one. 

Celebrating Craft Beers with Tap Takeovers, Trails, and Microsites

Did you know that most Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery? That is a statistic shared by the Brewers Association, the trade association of brewers, for brewers, and by brewers. You can thank the craft beer boom, where between 2008 and 2016 the number of breweries expanded by a factor of six and more than doubled its workforce in less than a decade as reported by The Atlantic. 

The craft beer boom not only stimulates jobs but also brings in revenue, with consumers opting to pay more for a superior brew. The demand for craft beer is also a boom for travel and tourism, with visitors seeking out the unique tastes and experiences offered in different destinations. Madden Media helps connect travelers to tasty ales through innovative advertising and marketing. 

Visit Tampa Bay and the Bay Crafted Takeovers

With one of the top craft beer scenes in the country, Tampa Bay goes above and beyond to promote the local brewery scene with Bay Crafted. This promotion includes the Bay Crafted Pass developed with Madden and Bandwango that lets drinkers check in at the locations and unlock prizes along the way. Such a popular experience needed to break out and break away to draw even more visitors to the city.

Madden Media developed the “Unlock Your Inner Pirate” activation that included tap takeovers in local restaurants and bars in Visit Tampa Bay’s key markets of Boston, Massachusetts; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Washington D.C.; Orlando, Florida; and Atlanta, Georgia. Carefully vetted locations served the clientele Visit Tampa Bay sought to reach. In addition to getting brewery guests to interact with the Visit Tampa Bay brand through craft beer and pirate booty swag, we geofenced each location and delivered remarketing ads to people who attended the event. The campaign helped the DMO break in with younger travelers, increasing intent to travel by 42% equating to 2.3M in tracked revenue.  

Pickin’ Up Good Libations with Explore York

Explore York organized the Good Libations Trails® as a way for wine, beer, and spirits enthusiasts to explore the many locally owned businesses in and around York County, Pennsylvania. The Good Libations Trails bring together three regional craft beverage trails (Mason-Dixon Wine Trail®, Susquehanna Ale Trail®, and Keystone Craft Spirits Trail®) that explore locally produced beers, wines, and spirits. Through this platform, York County drives traffic to their partner destinations while staying connected to the consumer throughout the process.

What began as a paper passport transformed in 2021 into a digitized passport through a partnership with Madden and Bandwango. Madden promoted the updated Good Libations Trails Digital Pass through targeted advertising on social media. Our ads reached potential visitors in key drive markets throughout Pennsylvania and Maryland who were interested in craft beverage experiences, including wineries, breweries, and distilleries. The campaign saw an above-average click-through rate and helped to broaden awareness of this newly developed offering by the DMO.

Crafting a Microsite with Visit Idaho

Craft brewing is a growing industry in Idaho, bringing in millions of dollars and thousands of jobs annually. Recognizing a boom in the industry, Visit Idaho partnered with Idaho Brewers United in 2017 to designate April as Idaho Craft Beer Month. Visit Idaho added web pages on VisitIdaho.org to gather and promote the month-long events. It became obvious to all involved that the site would be better served under the nonprofit trade association working to bring Idaho breweries together and protect and promote the state’s craft beer industry.

Visit Idaho approached Madden Media to work with Idaho Brewers United to migrate the pages off the state’s website by creating a stand-alone microsite. Idaho Brewers United had an outdated Square Space website and requested a WordPress site for easier management and maintenance. The result is IdahoCraftBeerMonth.com, a five-page website where Idaho’s craft brewers can easily submit an event and download the Idaho Brewers United event guidelines toolkit. Locals and visitors alike use the site to download the Idaho Brewer’s Trail Map and find events to enjoy a pint or two during Idaho’s beer season.

Join us to raise a glass and toast the craft beer industry and the destinations that promote delicious experiences to visitors around the world. If you’d like to learn more about how Madden Media can create ale trails for your destination, drop us a note. 

National Travel & Tourism Week: The Future of Travel

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the travel industry faced some of its most trying times. Uncertainty, anxiety, prolonged closures, and job loss shrouded a market that previously generated $2.6 trillion dollars in economic impact annually. The absence of travel and in-person connections was challenging to say the least.

But now — despite two years of setbacks — the industry is witnessing a new and improved kind of growth. For National Travel and Tourism Week, we set our eyes on the future — a future that strives to incorporate in-person connections, sustainable travel, conscious inclusion, cutting-edge creativity, and more.

Facilitating Recovery

Increasingly, consumers are looking to reduce the environmental impact of tourism (and overtourism) through sustainable and regenerative travel. In fact, according to a 2022 study conducted by Booking.com, more than 61% of U.S. travelers want to vacation more sustainably.

For Madden’s Chief Revenue Officer Brett Gordon, sustainable and regenerative tourism are growing demands that require immediate action.

“COVID-19 hit the accelerate button in the sustainable tourism shift,” Gordon says. “We see our outdoor destinations increase in visitation, and overall travel seasons continue to extend. Soon, many destinations will need to think about capacity and how they can ensure these invaluable resources are maintained for future generations.”

With more and more conscientious consumers entering the market daily, it’s the responsibility of destination marketers to position initiatives toward greater environmental and socially responsible travel. With the correct tools, travelers can simultaneously experience and protect our country.

“Not only is sustainability important because our planet and our people are at stake, but also because today’s travelers — Millennials and Gen Z in particular — hold brands and destinations to a standard only supported by genuine action,” says Content Strategist Lindsey Wilhelm. “Spreading awareness of, and advising against, overtourism is a solid starting point.”

Greater Mobility

Prior to the pandemic, digital nomadism was an enviable niche of travel that few had the privilege of experiencing. Now, with more than 40 million Americans working remotely, a new kind of travel market is emerging. No longer do you have to sacrifice personal for professional — instead, you can log your hours remotely, from anywhere in the country.

According to Madden’s Chief Operating Officer Sarah Hupp Foster, the “work from anywhere” trend is here to stay.

“Travel will continue to be more integrated into our lifestyles as hybrid and remote work are more the norm,” Hupp Foster says. “Digital nomad culture allows people to more easily and frequently travel. Adding extra time onto trips to enjoy new places via extended weekends with partial working time through the week is big this year and likely to continue.”

With this work and wander travel style entering the mainstream market, it’s the responsibility of destination marketers to speak to those audiences. With destinations eager to reestablish connections, smaller and more local communities stand to gain.

“Lots of people are willing to go a few hours by car to work during the week without sacrificing PTO,” says Front End & WordPress Developer Joe Mallot. “I think regions should look to pull people from metropolitan areas to scenic areas a few hours away and advertise fast internet speed to allow people the freedom to escape for a bit, even if they don’t want to commit to taking full days off.”

In-Person Corporate Travel

According to a study conducted in February 2021 by Destination Analysts, 50.4 percent of planners anticipate a “return to normal” by the end of 2022. Similarly, according to the U.S. Travel Association, 85% of U.S. companies are once again conducting business travel.

For Destination Development Specialist Jeff Hirst, corporate travel is slowly returning to normal. With this change, it’s increasingly essential that destinations rise with the changing tides — so much so that over half of all planners say they are certain or very likely to use conventions and visitor bureaus as planning resources in 2022.

“I think we’re learning the importance of face-to-face, person-to-person connections,” Hirst says. “As airline restrictions are lifted, and business development professionals feel more comfortable moving about the country, the corporate market will come back. Be it new accounts or account maintenance; there’s a very important aspect to meeting someone ‘zoom-less.’ It may be our generation’s equivalent to a hand-written letter.”

Influencer/Socially Influenced Travel

Online communities and social influencers grew to a whopping $13.8 billion industry in 2021. Travelers increasingly trust the recommendations and experiences of influencers and often seek inspiration from familiar faces first. When Hubspot asked global marketing professionals which trends they planned to invest in first, 61% said the influencer economy.

“The future of travel is social media and influencer-heavy,” says Front End Developer Pierce Hicks. “Informal ads by targeted influencers are increasing in consumer preference. People want to learn about a great place to go via a relatable and informal method that is almost like a friend giving a recommendation.”

More and more, we see the rise of digital tribes building upon and expanding the creator economy. With TikTok outperforming Google as a search engine, the influencer market is here to stay.

Innovation in Travel Marketing

The nature of user experience is changing. How and where a person can travel is simultaneously limitless and restricted. While some destinations may remain closed to in-person travel, new technologies allow for continued exploration. With the advent of virtual and augmented reality, destination marketers should continue to seek ways to capitalize on new experiences, while keeping in-person experiences immersive, fun, and highly shareable on social media.

According to MarTech Strategist Aretha Walls, travelers have the urge to break away from the confines of the familiar to see and feel new connections and experiences.

“I remember sitting at my computer and spending over an hour clicking through Google StreetView, amazed at how wide the world can be,” Walls says. “The past two years have honed our ability to eke out a piece of joy where we can: in stay-cations, in a weekend at the next town over, in blog posts and old travel photos, and immersive new technologies. As restrictions are lifted, I hope we as travelers and as destination marketing leaders can appreciate those hard-learned lessons and continue to find our joy in new ways and unexpected places.”

Creativity Driving Inspiration

As we continue to witness shifts in destination marketing and travel trends, it’s more important than ever to deliver unique and cutting-edge creative campaigns that capture the individual essence of each and every destination they represent.

“I see the future of travel being fueled by creative storytelling inspiration,” says Senior Creative Director Bria Hammock. “Destinations will continue to find their comfort in crafting, curating, and telling their unique story to connect emotionally to the visitor before they even step a foot onto their soil.”

In capturing the essence of a destination through deliberate storytelling and engaging design, the travel industry can drive tourists to further explore more niche corners of the country.

“All of these integral pieces come together to craft something a little esoteric in the mind of a traveler,” Hammock says. “That perfect moment in time… forever connected with the corner of the world in which it took place. That specific way in which a retailer connects emotionally with their brand loyalist is how destinations will lean into curating relationships with their visitors in the future.”

It is our shared responsibility as a nation and as an industry to drive the #FutureOfTravel forward. A better tomorrow starts today. Check out Facebook and LinkedIn for more National Travel and Tourism Week insights.

Improving Resident Sentiment Through Regenerative Tourism

How Port A Shares the “Salty Stories” of Its Community For Positive Visitation & Growth

Port Aransas, Texas wasn’t always a tourist destination. Longtime residents of the island remember its early days fondly as a sleepy fishing village and quiet seaside port. Following decades of growth, “Port A” has become a hip escape for both Texans and national travelers. And while the destination continues to grow and invite new visitors daily, many of the original residents of the community remain. 

Port A has been the focus of many family traditions for generations, and these traditions, families, and stories, are what keep the island connected with new visitors. In an effort to further capture the essence of the community, encourage responsible tourism, and highlight what makes the destination so unique, Port A partnered with Madden to deliver the local Salty Stories series. 


As the world continues to change, and with it, the nature of travel, destinations are increasingly seeking ways to thoughtfully engage stakeholders and visitors alike. As Port A grows as a tourist destination, the community identified an increasing need for sustainable tourism and effective ways to encourage visitors to help keep Port A clean and welcoming. Salty Stories was the solution.

Through videos and podcasts, Port A shared authentic and humanizing stories about the island. These stories create a personal connection between visitors and the community, which in turn, leads to increased bookings and stewardship from travelers.


Port A is more than a beach destination. It’s a town filled with talented makers, which carries a unique culture all its own. By highlighting the characters behind local experiences and their love for their seaside town, we were able to introduce viewers to a Port A they never knew existed. Video assets, augmented by audio, visual, written, and paid media efforts demonstrated that “this isn’t a place to swing through or take for granted — it’s a place people cherish.” 

The beauty was in every detail. With the use of high-speed, high-resolution videography, Madden captured every speck of sawdust, glisten of the hard candy, and bubble in browning garlic butter, casting an effortlessly cool and authentic light on Port Aransas’ talented locals. The relaxed aesthetic portrayed in the videos carried over onto the landing page, and subsequent paid marketing efforts like Google Responsive Display ads and Facebook remarketing efforts.

The use of the local vernacular “Salty” helps bring visitors into the fold to strengthen the draw of the local culture, allowing Port A to stand out among other surface-level, get-in-get-out beach destinations. 

Learn more about the work we’re doing for Port A, including the award-winning Margarita Madness.

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.