Along with some of my colleagues, I recently attended Destination Melbourne’s first tourism marketing conference forum - Melbourne LIVE.

The focus of the conference was on destination marketing strategies and tactics to help Melbourne adapt and excel through changing times.

The quality of keynote speakers and workshops was fantastic, but one in particular held my attention — Don Skeoch from LA Insights.

There’s a lot that we can learn from our cross-Pacific neighbours.

Don from LA 

Don Skeoch is the CMO of Discover Los Angeles - LA’s tourism and convention board.

Overseeing the marketing for one of the most visited cities in the world would undoubtedly be a tough gig, and he detailed some of the challenges he and his team have faced while promoting LA as a tourism destination.

More specifically, he expanded on the highly successful 'Get Lost in LA' campaign that they executed at the beginning of the year.

As consumers, we rarely see more than the finished product of a marketing campaign, but it is the exposure to the research, planning and development that really helps define the success of the campaign.

Don shared lots of ideas and insights into the back-end of the campaign, which are worth thinking about if you are planning on running any campaign-led activity.

Speak to the people that know best 

“Visitors want to live like locals.”

This was something that Discover Los Angeles quickly decided, so the best way to understand what locals like about LA was to talk to them. 

A series of focus groups were organised with two different sets of people: tourists and locals.

Discover LA spoke with tourists to understand what they thought about travel within California, where LA fitted into that and what the city is in competition with.

More interestingly, Discover LA spoke with a large number of locals, helping it to understand what makes LA special and how it could get across an authentic LA experience.

Position your brand offering

The focus groups revealed what locals felt were LA’s strengths, but this wasn’t where Discover Los Angeles stopped.

It also spent considerable time reviewing the city's weaknesses, looking specifically at where Los Angeles couldn’t compete with other cities. 

Discover LA concluded that it can’t compete with Europe for history, and nor did it want to.

Don shared with us a matrix that quickly summed up where LA could compete and where it would shine. 

Invest in content

Content is king - what a horrific cliché - but it isn’t wrong. 

Discover LA was aware of the importance of high quality content in its campaign activity.

It invested in professionally produced video, dedicated landing pages and an interactive map with video content for every suburb that tourists may want to explore.

This investment in content had huge organic, social and referral traffic implications, creating something that users really wanted to share with others.

Not only was the production value of the TV advert high, but it also included a theme of diversity, allowing it to appeal and influence a much larger audience.

This diversity was spread across geographical, cultural and ethnic groups – see if you can spot how they have integrated these into the video below:

One of the interesting things you’ll note is that the video doesn’t push what LA is famous for - things like the Hollywood sign and Disneyland.

This was an intentional move, as LA offers so much more to the traveller.

In addition to the video, the landing page also included six hugely different travel itineraries.

These spanned across adventures for families to those for foodies, and even more impressively, each of these itineraries was categorised by time, allowing travellers to choose one which suited the amount of time they were likely to be in LA, be it a day or a week. 

While in the short term this was a large investment, it quickly proved its worth when spread over the media budget of the campaign.

Without this focus on good content, media budget would simply have been wasted.

Conclusion & results

Measuring the success of a campaign of this size is by nature difficult, but Don was able to suggest that the campaign had a return on investment of 146:1.

In monetary terms, it drove incremental spending of $648m for Los Angeles. 

For more on this topic, see:

Edwyn Raine

Published 29 June, 2016 by Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine is Digital Strategist at Evolution 7 and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow Edwyn on Twitter

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