During the pandemic, many states allocated federal funds toward their DMOs to boost tourism. While some states immediately dispersed this money to maintain their visitation levels in 2020, others have only recently begun releasing the funds to their tourism marketing organizations to recover lost visitation levels. Madden helped numerous destinations develop tourism recovery campaigns to get the most out of their recovery funds last year, and we’re standing by to help build recovery campaigns in 2021.
When given recovery funding, destinations commonly have some questions. How can you best invest these funds? How do you manage the reporting requirements? How do you maintain compliance with restrictions and timelines? Through our years of working extensively with publicly funded tourism organizations and our work developing COVID-19 recovery campaigns last year, we are ideal partners to help lead your destination’s recovery and uphold your fiduciary responsibility.
Things to Keep In Mind
There are a few things you should know before making plans to invest your tourism recovery funds.
Know Your Timeline
Some states require funds be allocated during a specific time. Make sure any plans you make for your investment fall within that time period.
Some states are putting restrictions on how you can use the money. Review these restrictions to ensure your plans remain compliant.
Establish Reporting Structure
Some federal funding —like CAREs Act funds — require strict reporting on how money was spent and outcomes resulting. Before executing your recovery plan, make sure you have a reporting structure in place to keep track of your investments and campaigns.
Recovery Funds Investment Recommendations
Here are our three recommendations for how you can best invest your recovery funds.
Invest for the Long Term
While CAREs Act funding represents a one-time budget influx, you should look to invest in assets that will pay dividends over the long term. These federal funds should be used to enhance your destination marketing infrastructure by improving your website, acquiring destination intelligence, or developing a bank of new creative assets. These projects will be paid for with CAREs Act funding acquired during the pandemic, but will continue to deliver value in the years to come.
Media buying campaigns that utilize recovery funding must be flexible. The changing nature of the tourism industry, with the delta variant offering the most recent example of the unpredictability of the past 18 months, requires DMOs to prioritize the ability to make quick adjustments. For this reason, any media tactics you deploy as part of your recovery campaign should be primarily centered around digital tactics.
Using digital tactics will prevent you from getting locked into a campaign or creative that might become irrelevant or out of touch if the travel environment changes after locking in the contract. Digital tactics allow you to make updates to creative or messaging and give you the option to pause your campaign if needed. The approach is also more effective at reaching people interested in traveling during this time through remarketing and intent-based targeting capabilities.
With the ever-changing state of travel and tourism, DMOs must prioritize content people want to see. Any storytelling or landing pages created with recovery funding must be tailored to what is important to travelers right now. It would be valuable to invest in modifying your website for the pandemic by prioritizing FAQ sections with information about public health guidelines and landing pages that give travelers an idea of what to expect when visiting your destination.
Pandemic Recovery Partner
Bringing people back into your community will create a collective impact that will ripple through generations. An effective recovery campaign will boost your local economy and benefit residents. As part of our full-service capabilities and holistic destination marketing partnership, we are standing by to develop your recovery campaign and help best invest your tourism recovery funding.