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People are not cutting back on their travel budgets despite ongoing inflation and looming economic uncertainty. And as people research where to go this summer or beyond, Convention and Visitors Bureaus (CVB) and destination websites are an excellent source of information as travelers are deciding where to go and mapping out what to do once they get there. These sites get a ton of visitors. For example, VisitFlorida.com had more than 970,000 visits last month. However, once a person decides where they are going, it is the local hotels or attractions that consumers opt to share their data with through reservations.
As CVBs and destination marketers prepare for the cookieless future, what strategies can they employ to collect and utilize first-party data? How can destinations find audiences who look like the travelers they do attract? How can CVBs keep their destination in the consideration set for the website visitors who may not book right away?
CVBs have traditionally relied on third-party cookies as a key component of their marketing strategy to reach travelers. Oftentimes, these cookies allowed them to target a large audience, often missing their target audience and wasting ad spend on careless targeting. However, with the imminent deprecation of cookies, CVBs face a significant challenge to effectively reach travelers.
While some destinations have made efforts to collect emails from visitors, the majority of them have not prioritized the collection of first-party data. As a result, CVBs are left with no choice but to heavily rely on leveraging third-party data from various sources in the market.
Consequently, CVBs find themselves without a comprehensive strategy in place to adapt to the cookieless future. It is crucial for them to recognize this need and prepare for a new era of marketing where it becomes crucial to explore strategies for collecting and utilizing first-party data effectively.
As CVBs and destination marketers prepare for the cookieless future, it becomes crucial to explore strategies for collecting and utilizing first-party data effectively.
First-party data allows CVBs to gain a comprehensive understanding of their audience and personalize their marketing efforts accordingly. By harnessing this data, CVBs can better understand their destination’s specific audiences and tailor their messaging to resonate with potential visitors. This is a highly important part of taking control of data collection.
Take the example of VisitFlorida, which has a substantial marketing budget but also offers co-op opportunities for other Florida cities, helping them maximize their media dollars to drive tourism for the full state. In such scenarios, VisitFlorida can create their own audience segments, with intelligence on who would be a good fit for various destination partners throughout Florida.
Another example, CVBs for Florida’s Paradise Coast in the southwest part of the state implement a big budget marketing plan every year to increase destination awareness and interest in the destination to help drive travelers to the area and promote positive economic growth to the region and its partners. The Florida Paradise Coast is a partner of Visit Florida and these initiatives are intended to help partners expand their reach and increase their share of voice in the destination marketplace.
In 2022, the Paradise Coast CVB took the lessons they learned from the tumultuous times of the pandemic and focused on the destination’s value proposition and remained highly strategic within messaging, target audience and timing, leading to a record-setting year for the CVB. The CVB published their 2023 marketing guide, with a strategic focus on influencing incremental visitation within shoulder seasons to maximize economic impact for the destination. The CVB was driven by research and analytics from partner VisitFlorida to help develop the plan. By leveraging their partnership with VisitFlorida, Florida’s Paradise Coast was able to expand marketing opportunities and maximize their budget by utilizing VisitFlorida’s first-party audience data.
Another great way for CVBs to gather first-party consumer data is to partner with accommodations and hotels. According to a study by Sojern, 61% of hotel brands have already implemented a first-party data marketing strategy, and of those respondents, 81% reported an increased revenue from their strategy. That is organic earned, data that hotel brands get from loyalty rewards or credit card programs. If CVBs partnered with accommodations or hotels, that is a whole pool of travel data that is guaranteed to offer insights as to where travelers are headed.
This monetization process allows states to allocate budgetary resources effectively within their tourism boards. Through this approach, CVBs can harness first-party data to improve their advertising strategies and generate significant benefits for both the destinations and their visitors. With substantial traffic coming to their websites, CVBs can turn to accommodations and hotels as valuable resources that can be harnessed for their own marketing purposes or to support their destination partners.
Not all website visitors book their travel immediately, making it crucial for CVBs to ensure their destinations remain on travelers’ radars. With third-party cookies proving unreliable, there are better strategies to implement than retargeting based on cooking.
When utilizing tools like Google Analytics to analyze the demographics of website visitors, CVBs can gain insights into who is engaging with their site - and this is just the bare minimum entry point. Taking this a step further by implementing weblogs and applying pixels can provide even more robust data, enabling CVBs to create tailored marketing campaigns and re-engage with their existing audiences, site visitors or similar audiences in different regions. This approach allows CVBs to understand their customers better, ascertain their motivations for visiting the website and develop strategies to effectively engage them or individuals like them.
With first-party data, CVBs can adjust their messaging accordingly, catering to different generations or specific target groups for maximum impact and return on investment. CVBs must identify audiences that closely resemble the travelers they currently attract. By employing advanced data analytics and segmentation techniques, CVBs can create lookalike audience profiles. These profiles enable destinations to target individuals with similar preferences and behaviors, increasing the likelihood of attracting new visitors. By expanding their reach and connecting with like-minded travelers, CVBs can maximize their marketing efforts and generate increased tourism.
Ultimately, embracing first-party data empowers CVBs to optimize their advertising efforts, drive visitor engagement, monetize their website traffic and support their destination partners effectively. Through personalized email campaigns, social media interactions and targeted advertisements, CVBs can nurture these leads, keeping their destination top-of-mind for future travel plans. As CVBs and destination marketers face the challenges of a cookieless future, the utilization of first-party data emerges as a powerful strategy. Identifying audiences that resemble their existing travelers and engaging with potential visitors throughout their decision-making journey are crucial steps in attracting and retaining tourism.
By embracing privacy and security measures, CVBs can forge strong relationships with their audience while maintaining data protection standards. The future of destination marketing lies in the effective utilization of first-party data, empowering CVBs to unlock new opportunities and thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.
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