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What Travel Marketers Can Learn From New Orleans’ Move to Digital Marketing

@SamShankman

Apr 23, 2014 1:05 pm

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New Orleans managed to triple its impressions with a relatively small budget by finding their target visitors where they already looked online and by investing in quality content that engaged and piqued the interest of those travelers.

— Samantha Shankman

Free Report: The State of Student Travel

Buzzfeed

New Orleans Tourism creates native content for Buzzfeed during its 2013 "Find Your NOLA" campaign. Buzzfeed


Last year New Orleans Tourism‘s board of directors got with the times and moved 50 percent of their marketing spend from traditional TV and print to digital outlets including sponsored posts on Buzzfeed, promotional content on Garden and Gun, and 5 custom channels on Pandora.

The impact of the agency’s first full-year of its new strategy and media plan was clear: Digital is where it’s at.

Visits to New Orleans Tourism’s websites NewOrleansOnline.com, followyournola.com and GoNOLA.com increased 20 percent, its customized Pandora channels were listened to for a total of 11,145 hours, and impressions nearly tripled from 207 million to 611 million in one year.

“Digital is trackable, efficient and helped us drive visitors to our digital experience to be inspired, help them navigate, and uncover new neighborhoods and unique places to visit,” explains a New Orleans spokesperson.

“It also offered us the opportunity to introduce the “Follow Your NOLA” brand through socially sharable native content.”

The new campaign was created to target a more curious and adventurous traveler, a segment defined more by their mindset than age or location.

“Given the behaviors of our target, we knew we couldn’t effectively activate the campaign in media that largely provided one-way communication,” Mark Romig, president and CEO of New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, says about the shift to digital.

“We wanted to tap into our target’s willingness to advocate on our behalf. To stretch our limited media dollars – we set out to invite visitors and locals to discover and share “their NOLA” – and then inspire others to experience the allure of the city for themselves.”

New Orleans Tourism officials expect to increase impressions to 750 million impressions for the 2014 campaign while keeping the same paid media budget as 2013.

For 2014 “Follow Your NOLA” campaign, New Orleans is adding Afar, Bon Appetit and The Huffington Post as digital partners and expanding its cable commercial nationwide to 210 markets.

New Orleans Tourism has worked with digital marketing agency 360i since the start of its first “Follow Your NOLA” campaign, which launched in May 2013.

A Record Year for Tourism Spend

Last year also marked a record year for visitor spend in New Orleans.

Visitors spent a total $6.47 billion, a 4.5 percent increase over 2012, and the highest spending in the city’s history, according to the 2013 New Orleans Area Visitor Profile study released Tuesday.

The city welcomed 9.28 million visitors, up 3 percent from 2012, but lower than the record 10.1 million visitors that arrived in 2004 prior to Hurricane Katrina.

Watch New Orleans’ new “Follow Your NOLA” TV ad below:

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