Marketing & Communications
With the Greater Raleigh CVB’s advertising and marketing communications agency of record, Avenir Bold, deployed a robust ad plan with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets, thanks to more rebuild-and-recovery resources made available through Wake County. Bureau placements generated more than 22.27 million destination ad impressions with potential leisure visitors, converted ad viewers into official tourism website users and restored awareness of the area’s pandemic reopening statuses with meeting/event professional audiences.
Tourism recovery themes
Transitioned destination ad/marketing support themes throughout the fiscal year as COVID-19 impacts improved and as other market conditions allowed. The Bureau welcomed sports event planners to “Jump Back In” throughout 2021-2022 but greeted fall/holiday 2021 leisure visitors under the theme “Make Your Way Back.” Convention planners saw continued “Wish You Were Here” messaging through winter 2021-2022 when insider content then transitioned to “Jump Back In,” followed by new planner ads. From Jan.–Sept. 2022, the CVB is targeting potential leisure visitors with “Jump Back In” messaging.
Official tourism website integral for COVID recovery
Set a visitRaleigh.com record of 4.03 million website sessions by the close of this fiscal year—a site traffic total that was 39% above department goal and 75% above the 2020-2021 site traffic total. The department’s ongoing content marketing efforts continue to stimulate most site traffic, with traditional advertising and paid search efforts attracting additional new and repeat users each year. Measurements made possible by the Arrivalist tool for destinations/CVBs showed that those who used visitRaleigh.com in 2021-2022 were 378% more likely then to arrive in Wake County than those who did not use the official tourism site at all.
The Greater Raleigh CVB continued to aid in hospitality sector recovery by producing and sharing helpful content on returning events of visitor interest, plus ongoing promotions of things to do and culinary experiences. It also continued to maintain its COVID-19 Response and Helpful Resources section on visitRaleigh.com; this mostly consisted of updates regarding guideline relaxations and mandatory mask statuses and lifts for each municipality. Virus community transmission rates and community vaccination levels were also updated weekly.
The Bureau 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 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. In early 2022, the CVB was able to return to a more normal level of long-term editorial planning due to effects of the pandemic on visitor-related activities stabilizing and beginning to subside (less event cancellations, the return of visitor-favorite annual events etc.).
During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, the visitRaleigh insider blog continued to see the largest share of traffic on visitRaleigh.com (2.06 million sessions), with 51% of all sessions on visitRaleigh.com being on the blog.
In 2021-2022, the CVB placed a heavier emphasis than ever on diversity, equity and inclusion, making an even more concerted effort to include visitor minorities in imagery and represent minority-owned area businesses in content. The Bureau also launched a new LGBTQ-Welcoming Hotels program and listings webpage and continued to maintain its Raleigh Pride page. Regarding accessibility efforts, notes on accessibility at attractions and events continue to be placed in content, and the Bureau continues to make sure content itself is accessible (proper inclusion of image descriptions and alt text, for example, and continued placement of the AudioEye web accessibility platform on visitRaleigh.com).
Group market content
The department continued to produce articles for meeting and sports event planners, including destination news, meeting district-focused articles (for the meetings market), features on event sites, virtual tours on visitRaleigh.com and more as part of the content marketing strategy. Aerial videos of various sports event facilities were produced for the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance division using drone footage recently shot by Destination Virtual Tours—videos have been used in bid books attracting events to the Raleigh area.
People-First Tourism (P1t) development
Contracted with Destination 2028 allies at P1t Inc. for the continued curation and sale of unique experiences that further drive overnight stays from visitors through company- and CVB-fueled marketing. The 2021-2022 destination stewardship/sales effort included more recruitment of tourism microentrepreneurs, a jumpstart of post-pandemic bookings, organization of experiences with set dates/times and the creation of p1experiences.com. A seasonal project starting in May 2022 is extending P1t’s efforts into Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Rolesville, Zebulon and southeast Raleigh.
Social media marketing
Through consistent social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, accomplished the following in 2021-2022:
- Facebook (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 76,124 Likes; 7% increase since previous fiscal year
- Twitter (@visitRaleigh)
- Maintained 66k+ followers
- Instagram (@visitRaleigh)
- 42,777 followers; 11% increase
- 42,777 followers; 11% increase
Partner data and partner events
Reinstated database contractors to assist our area hospitality partners in updating their business/organization listings, amenities and attributes (including COVID-19 safe practices) and calendared events in PIXL or the destination database—especially critical for keeping the official tourism website itself up-to-date during tourism rebuild and recovery. After an in-person/virtual-option GRCVB Annual Meeting on Aug. 19 was successfully project-managed by the department, reestablished quarterly Tourism Talk Live events in-person for area partners in the remainder of the fiscal year.
Publication of real-time visitor arrival data
In collaboration with the CVB’s Administration and Destination Technology Departments, designed and produced a new Bureau publication, ETA Wake County, which captures dashboard views and adds insights from near real-time visitor arrival data made possible through the CVB’s paid partnership with Arrivalist, a geo-location and ad measurement tool for destinations. In addition to the quarterly messages being sent to local hospitality partners, the department collaborated with Destination Technology to append a new calendar-year 2021 dashboard to this Annual Report for the first time.
Department growth and recognition
Promoted Andrew H. Baker to marketing manager in July 2021, and hired Carly Delengowski as content marketing manager in Nov. 2021, after modifying the former group marketing manager’s position. Recognized long-tenured staff members Derek Allman (nine years; with 14 years total of destination marketing organization experience) and Michael Robson (11 years) with elevated titles, assistant director of marketing and communications and senior content marketing manager, respectively. Director of marketing and communications Jonathan Freeze, CDME, presented implications and successes of P1t product development at the Destinations International 2021 Annual Convention (July 2021) and for the Smart Community Tourism webinar series (Dec. 2021), as well as in book form (Tourism Microentrepreneurship, Emerald Publishing, Sept. 2021). At the North Carolina Tourism Leadership Conference, Sept. 29-30, brought home five Tourism Achievement Awards, including the annual Innovation Award.