Marketing & Communications (2016-2017 Annual Report)
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) continued to highly focus on its content marketing strategy, including an emphasis on the visitRaleigh insider blog, content about the destination's passionate minds (profile pages, videos—mentioned below—and more) and distribution of this content via owned (email marketing) and non-owned (social media, native ads etc.) channels. Content continues to be used to attract leisure tourism and inspire trips, grow online audiences and website traffic, engage locals (Backyard Boosters), build destination brand and CVB brand loyalty and heighten the Bureau's reputation as the official voice for tourism in Raleigh, N.C. Traffic to the leisure tourism blog increased by 292 percent in the 2016-2017 fiscal year over the previous. The Bureau also launched the meeting planner-targeted visitRaleigh meetings insider blog, including destination news, where to meet, where to eat and helpful tips on planning meetings in Raleigh, N.C., as part of the content marketing strategy.
Award-winning destination videos
Brought the tuned-up destination brand strategy to life through creative marketing communications targeted for business and leisure visitors to Raleigh/Wake County, including the "Rooted in Raleigh" online video series, which now profiles 17 "passionate minds." The series received "Best of Show" in the Destination Marketing Association of N.C. 2016 awards program, as well as a Gold Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. Also finalized three videos for meetings/sports verticals, including "Greater Raleigh: A Premier Sports Destination," the recipient of a 2017 Bronze Telly Award.
Award-winning "All Are Welcome Here" strategy
Continued to align tourism messaging with the signature phrase and hashtag adopted by the economic development organizations in Raleigh and the Research Triangle Region, expanding on the Raleighwelcomes.com webpage developed in 2015-2016 with other, new projects, such as an online video series. Included the "All Are Welcome" logo design on all destination ad creative for 2016-2017, resulting in more than 17 million positive impressions. Received the City of Raleigh Human Relations Commission's 2017 Business Award in recognition of this work, just prior to the House Bill 2 law's full repeal.
With the Bureau's creative and media services agency (French/West/Vaughan, FWV), deployed a robust, yearlong ad plan with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets, resulting in new brand impressions and customer conversions. With FWV and the Raleigh Convention Center, devised, planned and placed an entirely new campaign, targeting local meetings connectors, which resulted in 2.75 million ad impressions with local businesspeople Jan.-June 2017.
Attracted 2.36 million sessions to the official tourism websites in 2016-2017, a record high. Also began work on the new visitRaleigh.com; website usability research was conducted with Destination Analysts, and design, styles and the sitemap were approved and finalized. The Bureau began work on new content and updates to existing content for the website in the 2016-2017 fiscal year. In consultation with its Live Music Advisory Committee, the Bureau continued promotions of its comprehensive Raleigh, N.C., live music calendar, themostnc.com; the calendar website, powered by event data and content from visitRaleigh.com, attracted 87,769 sessions in 2016-2017. The CVB and Pepsi Bottling Ventures, LLC, also entered into a sponsorship agreement for themostnc.com to garner even more exposure for themostnc.com for future years.
Tourism editorial calendar
Continued to plan tourism marketing activations according to an editorial calendar, with each month devoted to a specific editorial emphasis driven by key messaging-defining destination themelines, plus destination pillars (themes; e.g., arts, culinary, live music etc.) consistently being touched on through content throughout the year. The Bureau also continued ongoing strategies and tactics to increase visitor awareness of the N.C. Department of Transportation's Fortify I-40/440 Improvement Project, so visitors can better plan driving routes ahead of time and avoid traffic snarls in Raleigh.
Social media marketing
Through consistent social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, the CVB accomplished the following in 2016-2017:
- Facebook (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 50,993 Likes; 22.4-percent increase since previous fiscal year
- 101,254 audience engagements; 30.5-percent increase
- Twitter (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 54,853 followers; 48.7-percent increase
- 64,530 total engagements; 43.7-percent increase
- Instagram (@visitRaleigh)
- 15,607 followers; 142.2-percent increase
- 81,084 engagements; 188.9-percent increase
Also launched the meeting planner-targeted meetingsRaleigh Twitter account, with plans to focus on audience growth and engagement on the account in the 2017-2018 fiscal year.
Official visitors guides
Renewed 2016-2017 relationship with Compass Media as custom publisher to carry out advertising sales, production, printing and shipping for the new Official Visitors Guide to Raleigh, Cary and Wake County. Printed 180,000 Visitors Guides in May 2017, for yearlong distribution in conjunction with the CVB's Services Department, and offered the new guide digitally at raleighvisitorsguide.com.
Continued to host regular meetings with several industry advisory committees, such as the Wake County Beer Summit. Facilitated monthly meetings with Wake County's Cultural Presenters Forum, which programmed 2017 as Art&Soul, a year of African-American arts in the Triangle, in collaboration with Triangle Friends of African American Arts and CVBs in our region. Convened a new advisory committee of destination brand ambassadors, the Passionate Minds Collective, in Nov. 2016, March and June 2017.
Effective Jan. 2016, Karen DeSollar was promoted to creative director, and Jonathan Freeze, CDME, CHIA, became director of marketing and communications. At the fiscal year's close, senior marketing manager Derek Allman, CHIA, received the Professional in Destination Management certificate from the Destinations International, demonstrating his significant professional development within the CVB industry.