Tourisme Montreal has one of the most multi-pronged digital platforms of any destination marketing organization, with its tourisme-montreal.org website supported by both a leisure blog and a meetings blog. The meetings portal is the first of its kind, launched in early 2013.
This aggressive presence on digital is a big reason why Montreal is attracting growing legions of Millennial-age planners and attendees. Other DMOs from Austin CVB to VisitPhilly are also ramping up their online programs to capture the next generation group.
“When we started building our communication strategies, we looked at the product itself, we looked at what Montreal had to offer, and then we started talking about Millennials that were a good segment for that product,” explains Emmanuelle Legault, VP of marketing for Tourisme Montreal. “And then we started thinking, who are we to present the destination and to show the USP of those niches? And how can we make sure that Millennials, who are all about authenticity and experiences, how can we get across our message but through another voice?”
In spring 2013, Tourisme Montreal launched its “Montreal Moments” campaign and #MTLMoments hashtag for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Postcard-size cutout frames were mailed to local influencers, and large cutout frames were places around the city where people could pose and have their photos taken. The DMO then invited travel bloggers in all the various blog niches to write about their experiences and share them while including the hashtag.
From February to December 2013, Facebook fans increased 26% from 105,666 to 143,214 fans. Twitter followers (English) shot up 36%, from 25,117 to 39,400.
For meetings and conventions, the biggest value of the meetings-themed blog is the ability to communicate with meeting planners who are notoriously busy and approached by so many DMOs because of their significant purchasing power.
“We were surprised, we have found that a lot of Millennials are trying to break into the meetings market, who utilize social media, who read blogs, who don’t want advertorials to read,” says Legault. “So that’s why we decided last year that we should start a new blog and try to bring added value to our consumers, you know, bring them to our content, and then that gives us a chance to engage with them.”
Austin CVB has its pulse on America’s Millennial/Gen Y generation like few others. The city is an incubator for innovation driven by its concentration of young professionals and creative energy drawing from the smartest minds around the state seeking like-minded collaborators. Austin CVB has evolved over the last few years with new digital communication programs to engage better with Millennials through visually-driven brand storytelling highlighting the city as the locals see it.
“In 2011, we conducted a series of qualitative in-depth interviews to aid in the development of a new ad campaign,” says Jennifer Walker, director of marketing communications at Austin CVB. While the study did not exclusively target millennials, we did come across a few findings of interest among this group.”
Walker says groups and business travelers have traditionally been attracted to large, familiar chains, but younger planners seek out more local options. The research motivated the CVB to change Austin’s “Official Visitor Guide” to the “Austin Insider Guide” and recruited local writers to contribute content, versus CVB staff. It was also redesigned to look and feel more like a modern magazine with quick, easy-to-read blurbs and tips for visitors.
“We created an innovative online program called True Austin,” adds Walker. The program uses local bloggers, who are “experts” on a variety of topics ranging from live music to food to sports, to help answer visitor questions essentially in real-time through Twitter, Facebook and email. “We also recently launched our own blog, the Austin Insider Blog. We have staff write personal recommendations on various Austin activities and events, and we’ll be highlighting True Austin contributors here as well.”
Visit Philadelphia is regarded as one of the most innovative destination marketing organizations in the U.S. based on its successful integration of three owned online platforms promoting the destination in different ways.
VisitPhilly.com is the main portal much like most DMOs operate. The popular Uwishunu.com blog highlights daily information about what’s happening in the city. And Philly 360 celebrates local creative artists and entrepreneurs making a positive impact in the region, which was designed to show Philadelphia as a modern city offering more than its vaunted historical attractions.
VisitPhilly’s focus on comprehensive, cross-platform digital communications was inspired by the behaviors and consumer appetites of Millennials.
“The city itself is 40% millennial, and our office is very much Millennial also,” says Paula Butler, VP of communications for Visit Philadelphia. “We kind of go out of our way to not just think about what media we go into but the message that we have that will appeal to Millennials…. For example, Philly 360 is aimed exclusively for the Millennial audience. It was designed that way, and it’s part of everything we do, but it’s separate also.”
Meryl Levitz, president/CEO of Visit Philadelphia, says the DMO’s focus on events, and the participation in them, provides a sense of community and content for the various online portals.
“To us, the word ‘social’ is as important as the word ‘media,’” says Levitz. “And when you look at the number of people who have the word ‘events’ tied to their title, this is extremely important because people are realizing that the higher tech we get, the higher touch we have to get as well.”
Visit Philadelphia produces a series of night markets around town, revolving around food and music. The popularity and buzz surrounding those really inspired VisitPhilly to update information for all of their events at Uwishunu.com on the go.
“The social engagement to be as important as the media that surrounds it,” says Levitz. “And because of that, we know the information we do on the media side needs to be extremely timely, as opposed to VisitPhilly which is kind of broad brush. Uwishunu and our social media are changing several times a day. And this is very important because the brand for Uwishunu is really Philly from the inside out. So it has that insider quality that people are looking for, and that social availability.”