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. 

2022 Predictions Series: Video is the Most Important Advertising Asset

With a double-digit increase in hours watched on both new and existing platforms, there was nothing more important than video in 2021. Consumers evolved into “explorers” and “superfans” of video content. With an increase across numerous platforms, we witnessed an enormous rise in both short-form organic social and long-form DIY videos. Harnessing the power of video will allow DMOs to open doors and lenses to authentic interaction between their brand and their audience.

The Changing Landscape of Television

Not only has the Media Rating Council changed how they define Conected TV (CTV), but the entire CTV advertising space has grown exponentially — fueled by rapid investments and massive growth of consumer streaming activities.

While it is no surprise to see video as a trend moving into 2022, the metrics are staggering when video marketing generates 48 percent more overall engagement and 1,200 percent more shares than text or image-based content. According to some experts, whether you feel you can or cannot afford video doesn’t matter. Some even go as far as to say the “golden age of TV” has ended. The creator economy is the one that is driving content consumption and communication.  By diversifying linear and streaming strategies, DMOs can accomplish a more balanced and effective video strategy.

The Next Steps

The keys to video success in 2022 will require appealing to short attention spans. According to experts, one video can represent over 1.8 million words — knowing this, storytelling through video will define the ever-changing landscape of marketing. You want videos that are easy to consume, highly informative, and as entertaining as possible — be sure to emphasize people over products. These videos will be important in both your organic and your paid media efforts. These videos will be useful on Google’s Video for Action and to a lesser extent YouTube shorts, Instagram which is over 50 percent of Meta’s media revenues, and TikTok, the fastest growing social media platform, which surpassed Google as the world’s most popular search domain. Pair strong anecdotal and visual storytelling, and you will develop a repeatable approach to keep your audience engaged.

More Predictions to Come

Be sure to keep an eye out for future blogs as we further explore each of these key concepts and trends, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, where we will be sharing more predictions for this year from our team.

2022 Predictions Series: Search Continues to Evolve

Search as we know it is long gone. Consumers seek greater sensory experiences in their search approach and expect both their results and their tactile interactions with websites to evolve. Increases in voice search (20 percent of all searches), video search (YouTube is the second largest search engine), and visual search (19 percent of all searches return image-based results) has changed the entire landscape. 

Your future search performance requires a balance of showing your deep expertise surrounding your destination, referential authority through user engagement and trusted links, and technical performance and compliance.

The Rise of SEO

While content is king, it will not drive improved organic search results alone. Look to create exceptional SEO-friendly content experiences that integrate text, images, video, gamification, and other interactive content. Content should be focused on your ideal audience and the experience they are seeking, not just on the facts of your destination. Also, content does not always need to be new. Optimizing old web pages can drive new traffic too. Most organic visits are from first-time visitors, so what you have re-written even 10 times is still brand new to them.

Optimize for Best Results

Optimization of websites will continue to be of utmost importance when it comes to ranking high in search results. The release of Google’s Core Web Vitals metrics is factored into search results, making website performance and user experience a key indicator in determining placement in search results. You must optimize for page load speed, particularly with the size of images and video files, for the best results.

SERP Evolutions 

Google’s featured snippets and knowledge maps combined with the growth of zero-click searches deliver content on the search engine results page (SERP) without requiring a click. This evolution makes your technical approach to SEO even more important. Optimizing your on-page SEO structure and schema implementation for events, articles, FAQs, and videos is critical for showing up in highly-visible SERPs. 

Ranking Your Videos

Perhaps the most significant changes we’ve seen in search are video searches. Much like some of the keyword tactics of long ago, a robust tagging strategy could quickly move videos to the top of the search rankings for that keyword. As we move into 2022, tags have much less importance, and focusing on the right keyword, title, description, and video completion rates will drive performance in search.

The Downside of Search

We see levels of paid search and structured snippets dropping organic results well below the fold. You need to keep a strong search engine marketing strategy focused on your target audiences to ensure your message is being discovered and not conquested by competing destinations.

More Predictions to Come

Be sure to keep an eye out for future blogs as we further explore each of these key concepts and trends, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, where we will be sharing more predictions for this year from our team.

2022 Predictions Series: Need for Destination Intelligence

For destination marketers, we know it’s vital to capture insights for learning, evolving your campaigns, and advocating for your program. As destination marketing organizations continue to make evolutionary leaps toward destination management, effective data assets and resources are essential.  

Destinations need data-driven tools to inform decision-making, measure impact, and fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities. Added to these critical responsibilities, DMOs need to be able to answer routine, though complex, daily operational questions, such as “what was my destination’s RevPAR for the past 3 months?” Moreover, you need to communicate those answers effectively and efficiently to your community leaders and destination stakeholders.

The Road Ahead

The pandemic is still with us, and it’s unclear how tourism will continue to change or create lasting changes. The only thing that’s certain is that visitation trends and traveler behaviors will be different than what existed before the pandemic. Competition for leisure dollars is also more fierce than ever with destinations routinely competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace. These challenges demand better data and information to create the most effective and cost efficient marketing and media strategies possible.

Chart Your Course

Madden’s destination intelligence platform, Voyage, is a dedicated response to the information and data needs of the modern DMO. Guided by decades of combined direct experience in the DMO industry, Voyage was designed and built to answer routine, but complex, questions in 30 seconds or less while still retaining  all the depth and capabilities needed in a complex industry environment. 

In a single platform, Voyage users are able to access daily updates on visitor behaviors, gather intel on the paid digital media activities of competitors, access hotel and lodging trends, and much more. These powerful tools are accompanied by a dedicated support team led by industry veterans with decades of direct experience in the destination intelligence field. 

Voyage in Action

Traverse City Tourism wanted to collect short-term rental tax, which would significantly increase their operating budget. However, they needed evidence showing a direct correlation between their advertising and overnight stays in short-term rentals to show their local and state legislatures. We used Voyage’s geolocation data capabilities to analyze the origin markets of visitor traffic into highly saturated short-term rental areas.

First, we established geofencing around the top areas in Traverse City with short-term rental density (excluding hotels). Then, we identified the top 20 markets Traverse City Tourism places advertising and analyzed how many devices traveled from those origin markets and stayed overnight in one of our geofenced areas. We then analyzed this data and found a moderate to strong correlation between media impressions and overnight stays in short-term rentals. We integrated this data into Voyage’s visualization dashboard so Traverse City Tourism could easily share the data with the legislatures.

Data is Destiny

It’s more critical than ever to use every available advantage to increase the economic impact of visitation. Whether through attracting new visitors, increasing the impact of returning visitors, or via sustainable tourism initiatives to name a few. As traveler behavior and visitation trends continue to fluctuate due to economic and public health challenges, DMOs need real-time information that helps them lead their communities with evidence-based decision-making. 

More Predictions to Come

Be sure to keep an eye out for future blogs as we further explore each of these key concepts and trends, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn where we will be sharing more predictions for this year from our team.

2022 Predictions Series: Digital Tribes are Building the Creator Economy

Online communities and social influencers have been growing as an industry for several years with the influencer marketing industry exceeding $13.8 billion in 2021. When Hubspot asked global B2C marketing professionals which trends they planned to invest in for 2022, 61 percent said they would focus on influencer marketing because it generated higher ROI than other trends like mobile web design and short-form video marketing.

The Creator Economy

While the industry has seen this group as a channel for marketing, they have quietly become the most powerful and trusted publishers and organizers. Whether it is social change, commerce, or the latest trends, their collective voices are leading us into a future that will be known for the “creator economy.” 

Individuals seeking to make a living doing something fulfilling with greater autonomy have driven the growth of the creator economy. Consumers have responded by finding independent content creators, and becoming loyal followers because of people they trust and share their values. According to SignalFire, there are 50 million creators, two million (four percent) of which earn a full-time income from their content and (4 percent) and 47 million (94 percent) earn a part-time income from their content. 

Leveraging Creators

Attracting social influencers to your destination is no longer a transaction, we need to broaden how we think about engagement with these creators. Yes, there will be paid social influencers initiatives, but there will also be earned creative and content partnerships that will require the same level of concierge services destinations provide to traditional earned media partners. Metrics and engagement will also evolve as social influencers have the ability to provide high-quality content and metrics from their efforts. While the largest branded publications have a wide-reaching audience, we are seeing data suggest that micro-influencers with under 100K followers may be more effective as their niche audiences are more invested and engaged.

These creators are also going to reshape the digital landscape. Creators are already moving their top fans off of the largest social networks and on to their own websites, apps, newsletters, and monetization tools like Substack. Taking the power from the hands of monolithic Web 2.0 companies, these creators are going to usher in the next evolution of the web as the cloud and decentralized platforms used in the Web 3.0 future that will go well beyond the “meta-verse”.

More Predictions to Come

Be sure to keep an eye out for future blogs as we further explore each of these key concepts and trends, and follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn where we will be sharing more predictions for this year from our team.