Overtourism Summer Blog Series Part Three: Quality Over Quantity

For some destinations, increasing visitation volume is no longer an objective. Seasonality trends mean during peak season many DMOs don’t need to spend many marketing dollars to compel people to travel to their communities. This is a nice problem to have, but when peak season brings with it overtourism, many DMOs don’t know how to respond. 

We have already covered a few strategies in earlier parts of this blog series. This post will focus on how DMOs can adjust their media targeting strategies to prioritize length of stay, in-destination spending, return visits, and more over visitation volume. 

Digging Into the Visitation Data

DMOs armed with rich destination intelligence will be better positioned to apply a quality over quantity approach to their media targeting. By analyzing which origin markets generate the longest average length of stay and highest in-destination spending, DMOs can determine which origin markets deliver the highest value per visitation.

Our team also recommends identifying which origins markets generate the most return visitors. Studies have shown that “tourists with relatively high budgets tend to exhibit a higher repeat visit pattern.” 

Madden has developed custom indexes for clients that calculate origin market visitation value — giving DMOs the ability to rank and prioritize the origin markets that deliver the highest ROI in their marketing efforts. 

Quality Over Quantity in Action: Visit Port Aransas

Visit Port Aransas needed a clearer understanding of its visitors’ origin markets and travel interests to plan better media campaigns. They also wanted a line of sight into visitors’ behaviors and origin markets for its competitors to deploy conquesting tactics. Madden created a custom Destination Competitive Insights report that integrates different data sources into an easy-to-use, dynamic dashboard.

Using Voyage, we analyzed economic and visitation data to identify where the most valuable visitations were coming from. We created a custom index to quantify the top origin markets with metrics like length of stay, in-destination spending, number of return visits, and more. This analysis showed us which origin markets produced the highest value visitors—visitors that make the highest economic impact. As a result, Visit Port Aransas was able to identify Austin, TX as a high-value origin market, and launched an in-person activation there to engage with prospective travelers. 

Voyage also enabled our team to conduct a competitive analysis of competitors’ origin markets and develop conquesting audiences. The interactive dashboard provides insights into market comparisons, visitor behavior, and demographic variability between Port Aransas and its competitors in side-by-side data visualizations.

The Port Aransas team can now generate unique comparison data visualizations for its 12 competitor markets. This tool enables their team to analyze data, including unique visitors, origin markets, average length of stay, seasonality, demographics, and cross-visitations between Port Aransas and its competitors.

The dashboard also includes audience creation functionality that Port Aransas can use to create and export device IDs to generate lookalike audiences. Their team can select a competitor destination and an origin market, and then download the device IDs from the top 100 high-value zip codes in the selected origin market. That information can be leveraged to build targeted marketing campaigns.

Evolving Destination Marketing to Destination Management

Understanding travelers through destination marketing, DMOs can have a better line of sight into their destination’s capacity for people to visit. By enriching media deployments with visitation data, Madden works strategically to ensure marketing campaigns work in concert with destinations’ communities. 

As you’ve seen in previous iterations of this series, Madden is working with DMOs to redefine the role they play in today’s tourism and generate sustainable tourism while promoting environmental stewardship. In the fourth and final part of this series, we will examine ways DMOs can increase resident sentiment to make sure communities feel their voices are heard in destination marketing. 

Overtourism Summer Blog Series Part Two: Sustainable Tourism and Environmental Stewardship

Attend any conference or travel and tourism event, and the words on most lips are “sustainable tourism.” Of course, the environment was on our minds pre-pandemic. Yet, the rise of people flocking to outdoor spaces and seemingly overrunning smaller communities during COVID brought protecting natural resources, providing socio-economic benefits for tourist destination communities, and creating authentic tourism experiences rapidly to the top of to-do lists. 

With a significant number of our partners working in destinations heavily reliant on limited, natural resources, Madden is actively deploying marketing campaigns that support what many of today’s travelers are looking for now and what tomorrow’s travelers will require. Here, we share two successful sustainability campaigns — Discover Crystal River Florida and Visit Idaho — to inspire you to champion environmental stewardship in your destination. 

Discover Crystal River “Step Into Awesome”

As part of our award-winning “Step Into Awesome” brand campaign for Discover Crystal River, we amplified the brand as the Manatee Capital of the World while highlighting education, conservation, and protection. 

This campaign sought to tap into the emotions travelers feel in the destination by developing visuals of the one-of-a-kind experiences Crystal River offers — among them up-close manatee interactions. We deployed an omni-channel marketing strategy to promote the “Step Into Awesome” brand during different stages of the Traveler’s Journey and to create an integrated brand ecosystem. This included display ads, social ads, dynamic blog posts, online video ads, and television ads.

Thrilling videos, inspiring photography, and dynamic blog content delivered educational resources about the manatees and their habitat. Website visitors are treated to a hub of information from the homepage “Learn About Manatees” that solidifies Discover Crystal River Florida as a manatee authority from the video “Caring for Manatees” to the pages educating travelers on everything from manatee protection and conservation to how to interact with the loveable sea cow to visiting responsibly, and more. 

Since implementing the new brand campaign, all behavior metrics have seen a 10% or higher improvement, including time on site, time on page, and bounce rates. Most importantly, not only is Discover Crystal River’s manatee community stronger and healthier than ever but so is the overall manatee population in Florida. Initial surveys in the early 1990s showed only 1,300 manatees left in the state. US Fish and Game estimates that the population is pushing over 6,500 today.

Visit Idaho “Travel with Care”

Idaho is a destination flush with natural assets and outdoor recreation experiences. The pandemic saw visitors flock to the state in high numbers as outdoor adventures became the most desired travel aspiration. 

As Visit Idaho’s agency of record, Madden developed a marketing campaign in partnership with Idaho Fish and Game and Idaho State Parks & Recreation, encouraging Idaho residents and visitors to recreate responsibly. The “Travel with Care” campaign is a three-pillar initiative that reminds travelers to ‘Care for Yourself, Care for Others and Care for Idaho’ when adventuring to the Gem State.

The first pillar highlights being prepared and staying safe when visitors are headed outdoors. The second pillar focuses on being courteous and kind while enjoying Idaho’s outdoors, while the third pillar focuses on caring for Idaho and being aware of the impact every traveler has on the destination. 

The multi-channel campaign included sustainability messaging being served to target audiences and driving online users to a landing page. The web page consists of tips on how to travel with care and recreating responsibly resources, including road conditions, weather, fire restrictions, and wildfire updates. A separate “Recreate Responsibly in Idaho” video shares key information and resources about the conservation and respectful use of Idaho’s state and federal land. 

Mitigating Challenges of Overtourism

While these are only two examples of the innovative sustainable tourism campaigns Madden Media is creating, there are many other DMOs collaborating with us. Watch our social media channels and our blog for more as parts three and four of the sustainable blog series will be published later this summer, and be sure to check out part one

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. 

Objective

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.

Approach

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.