Marketing & Communications
Record-breaking visitRaleigh.com traffic
Continued to attract record traffic to the official tourism sites, especially through Feb. 2020 when fiscal year-to-date (FYTD) website sessions were up 25% over the previous FYTD. Closed the fiscal year with 2.9 million sessions in 2019-2020—still up 5.5% over the previous fiscal year’s record.
COVID-19 crisis response
Activated the Bureau’s crisis communications plan on March 23 in response to COVID-19, and afterward continuously maintained helpful resources pages on visitRaleigh.com. Redesigned the weekly Tourism Talk e-newsletter for local partners to publish timely updates for the hospitality business community in crisis; facilitated invites and report-outs for online Wake County Tourism Coronavirus Briefings held weekly March 19-May 21. Beginning May 19, deployed preparatory recovery communications to partners and consumers, coinciding with and in support of the statewide “Count On Me NC” initiative.
The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau (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, our content marketing strategy has focused on:
- Relaying current crisis-related tourism information (status of businesses and events, travel info etc.);
- supporting our partners in need (distributing information about gift cards, online purchasing, entrepreneur stories, special relief efforts/positive impacts our partners are making etc.);
- 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 working as efficiently as possible—content for the website has supported multiple partners, touched on the above objectives and has had a use-life of more than one week. Other content has been direct-to-social and has been created by partners or other media outlets (using the most efficient strategies and tactics for sharing the messages).
Despite the crisis, traffic to the leisure tourism blog increased by 9.0 percent in the 2019-2020 fiscal year over the previous. Forty-nine percent of all traffic to visitRaleigh.com was on the visitRaleigh insider blog.
With the help of the new group marketing manager position, the Bureau also continued to produce articles for meeting and sports event planners, including destination news, features on event sites in Raleigh, N.C., and more as part of the content marketing strategy.
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.
Social media marketing
Through consistent social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, the CVB accomplished the following in 2019-2020:
- Facebook (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 70,561 Likes; 2.8-percent increase since previous fiscal year
- Twitter (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 65,834 followers; 1.6-percent increase
- Instagram (@visitRaleigh)
- 35,724 followers; 24.3-percent increase
New strides in external customer service
The Bureau’s group marketing manager worked throughout year gaining interdepartmental consensus for and implementing process improvements leading to the retargeting of group sales activity and the retargeting of all marketing to groups (arriving conventions and sports events); a new Meeting Planners Digital Marketing Tool Kit is one example of improvements in progress across nine spheres of customer influence. Meanwhile the department rolled out Tourism U to the CVB’s local stakeholders; this tourism/destination learning track is part of the Bureau’s ongoing community engagement strategy.
Signature experiences putting people first
With People-First Tourism (P1t), Inc., as a strategic ally, completed a year’s scope of work to foster gradual growth in both the supply of and demand for hyperlocal experiences offered by tourism microentrepreneurs in Wake County—as recommended in the Destination Strategic Plan (DSP). Mentored a summer intern jointly with P1t, Inc., beginning in May, and completed design/setup of a new Signature Experiences webpage on visitRaleigh.com, to facilitate new experience sales to visitors.
With the Bureau’s 2019-2020 advertising and marketing communications agency of record, Avenir Bold, deployed a robust ad plan (through March 2020) with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets. Almost achieved a full refresh of ad creative look-and-feel for all of the vertical markets, whose deployment unfortunately was postponed until all markets see recovery to more normal conditions after significant COVID-19 losses.
Destination 2028 and events
Finalized a measurement and reporting process for the county’s leisure tourism events, including Arrivalist tracking templates and Event Impact Calculator abstracted reports, working with a newly hired economic impact analyst and the Marketing Technology and Administration Departments. Served as a liaison between the Administration Department’s director of destination development and the attractions/leisure tourism event community during setup of a Signature Event Development Pilot Program for Wake County; provided stakeholder education on the above as outlined in the DSP.
Official visitors guides
Renewed 2019-2020 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 130,000 copies of the guide in May 2020, for yearlong distribution in conjunction with the CVB’s Services Department and offered the new guide digitally at raleighvisitorsguide.com.