From Sin City (Las Vegas) to the Biggest Little City (Reno), and from Burning Man to the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada attracts more than 53 million visitors annually. But in recent years traditional tourist groups (ages 40-65) were plateauing, and new steps were required to encourage younger groups to visit the state.
As a result, TravelNevada, working with Fahlgren Mortine, created the “Don’t Fence Me In” campaign, targeted towards Millennials (ages 18-34). Featuring the eponymous song – written by Cole Porter – as performed by The Killers, the campaign was designed to tap into generational tendencies toward storytelling, adventure and individuality.
Knowing that Millennials and adventure-minded travelers prefer stories to ads, TravelNevada and Fahlgren Mortine created a content strategy with a heavy focus on stakeholder involvement, including hoteliers, attractions and tour companies, to help amplify the message and empower its storytellers. The creation of campaign was backed by careful research:
• Visitor Profile - Conducted by leading research firm, TNS Global, Nevada's Visitor Profile Study is conducted annually. This data, blended with Nielsen data, was used to hone campaign targets (demographics and psychographics).
• Millennial & Young Gen X Traveler Study Analysis - Conducted by Destination Analysts, this study included primary research among approximately 3,000 targets. Key findings: social content is extremely influential, and the intersection points between millennial "wants" and Nevada's "haves" center on freedom and wide-open road-trip experiences. This was used to refine the core content areas in the strategy.
• Millennial Trend Research - Fahlgren Mortine conducted secondary analysis of key millennial trends to determine psychographic traits, content preferences and media consumption habits. Sources included Portrait of the American Traveler, Skift, Expedia and Destination Analysts.
• Current Site/Search Analysis – Knowing that content plays a powerful role in search marketing, Fahlgren Mortine audited TravelNevada.com to determine which content areas were most popular/engaging, as well as while search terms/phrases were driving the most traffic to the site.
Integrated communications elements included a content strategy focused on road trip experiences, and supported by other niche themes based on visitor preferences and research. This over-arching approach was managed via a master editorial calendar, releases/pitches, weekly meetings and utilization of staff and agency time for writing/content development. Because TravelNevada is a sister agency to Nevada Magazine, the content buckets were also supported with existing, relevant material and images as appropriate.
Goals for the program included:
• Secure more than 10 positive A-list and 50 positive B-list stories focused on the core content storylines identified via research
• Enhance relationships with stakeholders/industry partners by creating PR opportunities that encouraged their participation (goal: at least 15 participating partners)
• Due to millennial influence, grow Instagram community/engagement by 5% during campaign period
• Increase spending among core visitors by 2% by exposing them to content featuring multiple experiences (entice longer stays, more activities)
• Increase overall campaign ROI by 4%
• Broaden perceptions of Nevada among more than 40% of those surveyed
• Enhance the value of TravelNevada.com (by adding more authentic and user-generated content)
A variety of tactics were used, including:
• Detailed story mining, news release development, story ideas and an enhanced visiting journalist program. Opportunistic desk-side media tours and events took place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and New York.
• Road Trip Press Tour: To garner attention around Nevada’s road trips and the activities just outside of Las Vegas, TravelNevada hosted five high-caliber journalists and influencers on a press tour of the hub-and-spoke road trip around Sin City to showcase rock climbing, sand duning and other “Don’t Fence Me In” experiences.
• Instameet: Although a large portion of the Lake Tahoe coast is Nevada’s shoreline, many people believe Tahoe is a California destination. To combat this, TravelNevada hosted an Instagram meet up with travel and lifestyle influencers from around the world – and teamed up with JUCY (a mini-campervan rental service) to transport the attendees. Participants were encouraged to use the hashtags #TravelNevada and #NevadaSide.
• To support the content plan, the team recommended a video experience that could not only be used to engage consumers in key markets, but also to use desk-side with key media – helping them understand the Nevada experience.
• Digital, social and mobile content creation: Fahlgren Mortine developed a list of asset needs and worked closely with TravelNevada’s creative team to ensure content pillars were well supported. By supplying lists of needs/imagery requested, the creative team was able to maximize TV production shoots, etc. without adding cost.
Campaign results hit the jackpot:
• More than 25 positive A-list and 50 positive B-list stories were secured.
• Among targeted A/B-list outlets, more than 40M media impressions were secured.
• Relationships were enhanced with industry stakeholders whose participating/support was waning. More than 20 different organizations participated in new activities including press tour hostings/itineraries, media receptions/events and Instagram takeovers.
• Instagram community/engagement grew more than 15% during the campaign period, including regular comments showing intent to travel
• Unlike many states that just monitor paid campaign effectiveness, TravelNevada monitors paid, earned and owned efforts with third-party research. Results included:
o Compared to 2016, the number of those surveyed (who visited Nevada) who said they were positively impacted by TravelNevada’s paid, earned and owned efforts rose from 46% to 60% overall, and from 41% to 55% average in individual markets. This combined paid/earned/owned increase was significantly higher than the increase in paid efforts only, validating the powerful impact of the public relations campaign.