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Valley Forge for the Holidays

How Madden Mastered Winter Marketing in the Northeast

DMOs in the northeast often struggle with marketing a destination during the months of unpredictable winter weather. Unless your destination has a large-scale attraction like a ski resort, indoor water park, or a convention center – figuring out how to encourage and maintain a steady flow of visitation in the wintertime can require creative and unique approaches.

In November & December of 2021, Madden helped the quaint small towns of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, promote their local treasures as a holiday getaway – and it worked. Occupancy rates in Montgomery County soared to pre-pandemic levels.

Located in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Valley Forge region encapsulates all of Montgomery County. As a suburb of Philadelphia, the destination may not be immediately top-of-mind for travelers at this time of year. But, the region is packed with many hidden gems that offer charming, family-friendly activities for the holiday and winter seasons. During the holiday season, Montgomery County reaches many people traveling home for the holidays, whether it be students returning home from college, young couples leaving the cities for a getaway, or families seeking a haven for holiday fun that won’t break the bank. 

The goal of the “Valley Forge for the Holidays” campaign is a great example of how a DMO can bring awareness to its destination during traditionally slower times of year. The campaign highlighted destination features including unbeatable shopping excursions, craft beverage makers, quaint Main Streets, seasonal family fun, winter adventures, and more.

Madden and Montco Unite

Madden and the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) spun a seasonal play on VFTCB’s “Make It Montco” campaign to help drive foot traffic to businesses in the small communities. We started by designing a seasonal adaptation of the organization’s original logo. A landing page was developed by the VFTCB that showcased available hotel packages for the holiday season, including booking information. For campaign assets, Madden’s creative team utilized a unique approach that mixed bright, graphic elements with rich destination photography. We also featured animated aspects throughout the creative work that would catch the consumer’s eye.

Valley Forge for the Holidays

Valley Forge for the Holidays

Madden’s account strategy and media teams deployed a mix of channels, including digital mainstays like Facebook and Spotify complemented with traditional channels like billboards. Our team leveraged a strategic stack of tactics that allowed us to create unique ad experiences and cultivate relationships with users along various points of the booking funnel. 

In addition to traditional geographic and interest-level targeting, we used strategic conquesting efforts to target visitors who might be visiting other holiday-related attractions in our key origin markets. These visitors were targeted with ad creative that showcased the experiences that were available throughout Montgomery County, PA, including hotel package opportunities.

Valley Forge for the Holidays

The success of the “Valley Forge for the Holidays” campaign was demonstrated through strong KPIs in digital ad placement. Throughout the campaign, all tactics performed at or above goal, with many reaching above industry standards. Our successes from this campaign can also be traced through conversions of arrivals in-destination, as demonstrated through the DMO’s occupancy data provided through STR reporting.

Working with Madden on this campaign was an important part of reaching and surpassing goals.

Justine Garbarino, Associate Vice President of Marketing, Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board

During the months of this campaign, the VFTCB reported significant year-over-year occupancy increases (nearly reaching 2019, pre-pandemic numbers). In addition, the DMO saw its highest-ever referral and search numbers through their Book Direct data. 

Cold-hard conversions like this are music to our ears as we help client destinations recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Helping our clients find new tactics and solutions to highlight the unique businesses and people in their community during a normally slow time of year is the best kind of holiday cheer.

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