Marketing & Communications
With the Greater Raleigh CVB’s advertising and marketing communications agency of record, Avenir Bold, resumed a normal (post-pandemic) and expanded ad plan with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets. Continued to utilize pre-roll/streaming video ad placements, based on effectiveness learnings from tourism recovery media plans, and added linear-cable TV spots for the first time. Avenir Bold placements generated more than 36 million destination impressions (70% display, 27% video) with potential leisure visitors and converted ad viewers into official tourism website users. Tracked 38,500+ ad viewers through to their arrivals in Wake County, where they spent more than $9.3M, a $176 : $1 return on ad investments.
Ad/content marketing theme
From Oct. 1, 2022, themed all destination advertising/marketing support to “Jump In,” completing the transition of CVB creative messaging away from tourism recovery and into a theme that invited all vertical markets to immerse in what is truly special here and commune with smart and savvy locals who collaborate to make visitor memories through their unique experience offerings. A “Jump In” anthem online video, from which many subsequent video ad spots also were drawn, brought the immersive theme to life especially well for the leisure visitor markets and received a 2023 Telly Award (bronze) in the Travel/Tourism category. Also initiated a destination brand strategy reassessment near fiscal year-end, which will commence officially during 2023-2024 and will underpin future marketing communications when completed.
Official tourism website
Exceeded the goal for website sessions by 9.7%—serving destination information across 3.88 million sessions during the year. 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. With the Destination Technology Department, completed the transition to Google Analytics 4 (future measurement instead to be based on website users) and initiated a visitRaleigh.com usability study, which will inform a 2024 project to improve design for all site sections.
The Bureau continued to highly focus on its content marketing strategy, including its emphasis on insider articles—content about trip-worthy attractions, events, restaurants etc. and the passionate minds behind them—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 2022-2023 fiscal year, the visitRaleigh insider blog continued to see the largest share of traffic on visitRaleigh.com (1.89 million sessions), with 49% of all sessions on visitRaleigh.com being on the blog.
In 2022-2023, the CVB continued to place a heavy emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, making a concerted effort to include visitor minorities in imagery and represent minority-owned area businesses in content. The Bureau continued to maintain its LGBTQ-Welcoming Hotels program and listings webpage and 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 and more as part of the content marketing strategy
- Began outreach to meeting hotel sales staff in the area's meeting districts to bring more awareness to visitRaleigh.com content that can be helpful in sales and marketing efforts
- Developed a new, premium tradeshow booth for the Convention Sales team that can be used for larger shows or can be modified to serve smaller booth spaces
- The Bureau won a Platinum N.C. Travel Industry Association Tourism Achievement Award in the Group Marketing category for the series of a dozen aerial videos of Wake County major sports venues created and added to the Visit Raleigh Studio (re-edits of the 2020 CARES Act drone raw footage project)—the videos have also been used in bid books attracting events to the Raleigh area
- In conjunction with Raleigh, N.C., being named Best Sports Host City in the 2022 SportsTravel Awards at the TEAMS ’22 Conference & Expo, produced a video for the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance (GRSA) showcasing sports events hosted in the destination
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 (as recommended in the Individual Leisure section of Wake County’s Destination Strategic Plan). New P1t experiences, marketing efforts and improvements in the ticket purchasing process have resulted in a significant increase in P1t website engagement and number of bookings. Since June 2022, P1t has worked with over 100 entrepreneurs and has 47 active growers, creatives and makers offering experiences. The implementation of a newly designed website, CVB marketing efforts and paid social media advertising have resulted in 1,262 purchases since July 1, 2022. There has been an average of three experiences per week on the P1t calendar, in addition to “bookable experiences” that can be scheduled upon request and customized for groups. Feedback from participants indicates a high level of satisfaction, which has motivated a re-marketing campaign for upcoming experiences. P1t entrepreneurs have presented experiences in nearly 30 venues across Wake County, which include small businesses and public indoor and outdoor spaces.
Social media marketing
Through consistent social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, accomplished the following in 2022-2023:
- Facebook (@visitRaleigh)
- Reached 80,845 Likes; 6% increase since previous fiscal year
- 3.57 million reach; 18% increase
- 50,631 followers; 18% increase
- 1.13 million reach; 338% increase
- Twitter (@visitRaleigh)
- Maintained 66k+ followers
The CVB invested significantly more into creating and collaborating with community partners on Instagram Reels (social media video content) for the visitRaleigh account last year, yielding impressive results for engagement and brand and destination awareness. As previously noted, the visitRaleigh account garnered a reach of 1.13 million, a 338% increase over the 2021-2022 fiscal year, much attributed to the success of Reels. A few Reels stole the show: the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival-Cary Reel (in collaboration with local creator @nancyjthapa) saw 1.8 million views, while our original SPIDERS: Fear to Fascination North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences exhibit Reel saw 1.2 million views. Average Reel views were 77,985 during the 2022-2023 fiscal year. Total Reel views were 4.76 million.
The Bureau created its own original content and also strategically planned collaborations with local creators and partner organizations to serve inspirational content to visitors (like this Reel with Downtown Raleigh Alliance promoting the Illuminate Art Walk). The Bureau's leisure tourism social media accounts continue to inspire trips, seen through the numbers, and especially in the comments sections where visitors coordinate with friends to plan trips, and locals invite out-of-town family and friends to explore the destination.
Web-based promotions and leisure sales incentives
Continued to promote increased visitation to all Wake County breweries by renewing passport and promotional efforts for a 2023 Raleigh Beer Trail; outsourced fulfillment of prizes to Raleigh-based Gabi’s for greater efficiencies. As requested by the CVB for the Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Aberdeen Area, prepared Wake County lodging properties to offer specialized rates/overflow rooms for spectators of the 2024 U.S. Open in Pinehurst; collected the offers via PIXL and prepared to promote a new webpage of Wake County room availabilities in conjunction with the tournament hosts.
Publication of real-time visitor arrival data
In collaboration with the CVB’s Administration and Destination Technology Departments, continued to produce an award-winning 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.
Professional development and recognition
Both content marketing manager Carly Delengowski, CGSP®, and marketing manager Andrew Baker, CGSP®, earned the Certified Guest Service Professional (CGSP®) designation from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute, reflecting their heightened skill at service to Bureau clients/partners. At the N.C. Tourism Leadership Conference, Nov. 16-17, brought home five Tourism Achievement Awards, including the annual Best Innovation Award, for the second year in a row.