Marketing & Communications
Tourism rebuild and recovery theme
In Summer 2020, staff developed a creative solution (“Wish You Were Here” slogan and graphical device) around which to organize all COVID-19 recovery plan efforts and for use across all four of the Greater Raleigh CVB’s customary vertical markets: leisure, residents and visiting-friends-and-relatives, meetings and conventions and sports marketing. Messaging under this theme first launched publicly on Aug. 19. The recovery plan itself consisted of multichannel, multiphase marketing tactics.
Official tourism website integral for COVID recovery
Closed the 2020–2021 fiscal year with 2.3 million website sessions—greater than originally forecasted and down only 20.6% from 2019–2020 despite tourism’s unprecedented downturn in the global pandemic.
The Bureau continued to maintain a robust COVID-19 Response and Helpful Resources section on visitRaleigh.com, making it a trusted source for COVID-19 travel-related information. The section included up-to-the-minute information on the latest N.C. safety guidelines and Executive Orders (mask mandates, social distancing requirements etc.); travel tips; business impacts (capacity limits in different hospitality business categories, event impacts, event planner tips and more); resources for hospitality partners; and ways residents and visitors could help the industry.
The Greater Raleigh CVB continued to highly focus on its content marketing strategy, including its emphasis on insider articles, content about the destination’s creative entrepreneurs, leaders and makers (profile pages, videos 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.
During the COVID-19 crisis, and especially during the “Wish You Were Here” campaign, our content marketing strategy has mostly focused on:
- Relaying current crisis-related tourism information (cross-linking to the aforementioned COVID-19 website section to give visitors additional information whenever possible);
- sharing information on business re-openings and what experiences were available for visitors at any given time;
- continued long-term education about the destination and branding of the destination (stories about why certain attractions, partners and business owners are so important to our destination and to visitors);
- and giving visitors confidence in safe travel through a constant flow of information about the safety guidelines that hospitality businesses were putting in place.
During the crisis, the visitRaleigh insider blog continued to see the largest share of traffic on visitRaleigh.com, with 54% of all sessions on visitRaleigh.com being on the blog.
Group market content and esports initiative
The department continued to produce articles for meeting and sports event planners, including destination news, features on event sites in Raleigh, N.C., virtual tours as they became available on visitRaleigh.com and more as part of the content marketing strategy.
Also, as part of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance’s esports event-attraction initiative, the Marketing Department, alongside esports advisory firm Subnation, developed an esports event planner portal. The website section includes information on the Greater Raleigh Esports Local Organization Committee (GRELOC) and what the Bureau, GRELOC and its partners can offer for esports events of all sizes. A promotional video was also developed to help tell Raleigh/Wake County’s story as an esports and gaming destination.
Social media marketing
Through consistent social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, accomplished the following in 2020–2021:
- Facebook (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 71,024 Likes; 0.66% increase since previous fiscal year
- Twitter (@visitRaleigh)
- Maintained 65k+ followers
- Instagram (@visitRaleigh)
- 38,589 followers; 8% increase
- 38,589 followers; 8% increase
With the Bureau’s 2020–2021 advertising and marketing communications agency of record, Avenir Bold, deployed an extensive ad plan (Aug.–Dec. 2020) with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets. The primary purpose was to build consumer confidence to travel to and meet in Wake County once again while highlighting Count On Me NC health and safety training and protocols. These traditional ads gained significant attention from visitation markets and converted audiences into website users, another goal.
Airbnb’s support for recovery
Through its Tourism Marketing Program post-COVID, Airbnb partnered with the Bureau in late 2020 to launch a joint campaign extending the CVB’s recovery theme of “Wish You Were Here.” The Airbnb-provided aspects of the campaign targeted leisure travelers in N.C. and linked to a dedicated landing page highlighting Raleigh’s creative culture, local makers and outdoor activities matched to short-term rentals located nearby. More aspects of the campaign included Airbnb social media posts and emails featuring Raleigh area stays paired with suggested activities as well as “cards” on certain airbnb.com listing pages providing official tourism information about the Raleigh area from the CVB.
Support from local tourism allies
The “Wish You Were Here” graphical device and theme adopted by GRCVB for its recovery plan was embraced by economic development allies also, including the City of Raleigh Office of Economic Development and Innovation, Glenwood South Neighborhood Collaborative and Midtown Raleigh Alliance. Others joining in the themed campaign with consumers/their audiences were encouraged to at least use the social media hashtag(s) developed, and they had the option to freely use the graphical device/other creative assets developed in their self-funded, paid promotions or derivative campaigns around Wake County.
Tourism connected to community
Met virtually with 70+ area stakeholders through the CVB’s Tourism U Level 100 class, including representatives from RDU International Airport, the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County and Towns of Apex, Fuquay-Varina, Knightdale, Rolesville and Zebulon; completed a study on the effectiveness of the year’s community engagement strategies with researchers from North Carolina State University. Also, worked with strategic allies at People-First Tourism Inc. to foster gradual growth in the supply of and virtual demand for hyperlocal experiences offered by tourism microentrepreneurs, especially in Apex and in Zebulon, though in-person visitor demand was halted by the pandemic.
Visit Raleigh Studio
Deployed Visit Raleigh Studio in Feb. 2021—a curated collection of digital assets (video footage, including from aerial drones at over 75 sites around the county), 360° virtual tours of 90 attractions/facilities and over 7,000 photographs collected from the area. The Studio is intended to provide high-quality, rights-secured assets to the Wake County hospitality community, as well as other local stakeholders, and will be augmented and maintained throughout future years.