Destinations, start spending your marketing dollars on the ultimate repeat visitor — the remote worker.
Campaigns to promote destinations as ideal remote work spots are becoming more sophisticated. So much so they're now unapologetically crossing over into mainstream tourism.
In the U.S., West Virginia’s success in attracting people with a $12,000 cash bonus, free co-working space and a free outdoor recreation package for two years — which Skift briefly covered here — has taken its tourism department by surprise.
The Ascend WV campaign website has notched up more than 175,000 unique website visitors so far, with 6,500 people from 50 states in the U.S. (and 67 countries) applying. It launched April 12, and closes May 31, 2021.
[caption id="attachment_428784" align="alignright" width="300"] Chelsea Ruby, secretary, West Virginia Department of Tourism. Picture: West Virginia Department of Tourism[/caption]
The multi-year program, which starts in Morgantown, but later extends to Lewisburg and Shepherdstown, could be one of the country's first tourism-led initiatives to intertwine remote work so closely.
"We’ve been blown away by the interest we’ve received ... I think it’s possibly the next step in tourism," said Chelsea Ruby, secretary at the West Virginia Department of Tourism.
"People ask me why tourism is involved. The answer’s simple — it’s the same message. All the things that make West Virginia a top tourism destination make it a top remote work destination."
It's all about the outdoors and mountains, and part of the campaign centers around the idea of a "permanent vacation." Ruby said that 87 percent of visitors to the state come back.
However, West Virginia does have an unfair advantage. Ascend WV was made possible by a $25 million gift from Brad and Alys Smith, who have founded the WVU Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative.
Brad Smith is the president, and former CEO, of the financial software giant Intuit — and a West Virginia native. The donation was presented to West Virginia Universit