“When you’re a smaller destination with a lot to offer to meeting planners and groups, it can become difficult sometimes to find your niche. Then, once your niche is identified, it can be nearly impossible to reach your targeted client-base without having to cast really wide nets and hope for the best,” explains Mya Surrency, Principal and CMO at Digital Edge Marketing.
In 2015, Visit Rapid City was facing this precise challenge as they attempted to meet a specific targeted niche for marketing their unique Meetings & Conventions spaces. Digital Edge through site visits and research assessed the market base and identified key geographies and industries that lended to the majority of Visit Rapid City’s M&C business: regional businesses and associations, educational or university groups, Native American-focused groups, and government groups.
“It was a small audience, but rather than casting a wide net, we decided to fish where the fish were, if you will,” says Surrency.
Together, the team at Digital Edge and the sales team at Visit Rapid City recognized that the primary goal for meeting planners to decide to plan a meeting in Rapid City was simple: They just needed to visit. Then they would see all the BIG THINGS they were missing!
Digital Edge developed the concept of a competition based on the popular TV reality game show, The Amazing Race, and was created to offer something new and fun to planners, rather than just another traditional FAM trip. The success of The Amazing Rush was a year in the making and involved a fully comprehensive digital campaign. The DE team built a solid mobile responsive landing page that carefully followed best practices for landing page optimization. The simple form was above the fold, the messaging was perfectly in line with the overall brand, and the photo images of the group experiences that were going to take place during The Amazing Rush were not only compelling, they were completely do-able for the main event set to take place in the spring of 2016.
“The landing page was chock-full of information, without being heavy in copy. We focused on beautiful imagery and kept brand consistency throughout each element of the digital campaign.”
The strongest conversions came from the email campaign, which pulled from Visit Rapid City’s current CRM lists, meetings lists, and a purchased meeting planner list.
For the search and display campaign, we chose to avoid pricey meetings trade sites and instead, we focused on programmatic display campaigns using targeted keywords and ad groups, as well as placing ads on meetings-focused websites.
This might be surprising for some, but half of our conversions came from our Facebook campaign. The Facebook campaign was highly targeted, using keywords we identified from the onset for reaching meeting planners specifically within a geo-targeted region and building a retargeting list from the landing page and the meetings section of the main website.
The Results in Numbers
The total online conversions for this highly targeted audience from the month of July 2015 – April 2016 was 154 signups and new leads for the sales team. That’s nearly a 154% improvement, since prior to the campaign, leads were nearly 100% generated from the outbound sales team via conferences and face-to-face meetings.
Check out this breakdown of landing page sessions from each source!
- Email: 1,154
- Direct: 182,159
- Referral: 16,729
- Paid Search: 53,311
- Display: 119,733
The Amazing Rush Facebook Ads were equally as impressive. Here is the breakdown of results for this targeted niche audience:
- Impressions: 661,100
- Reach: 150,956
- Clicks: 28,917
- CTR: 4.37%
On May 2, 2016, teams of two meeting planners each raced around national parks, monuments and other destination areas in Rapid City, SD. The competitors took part in authentic Rapid City experiences while collecting puzzle pieces throughout the destination and the Black Hills. The team that arrived first won “BIG” (keeping on message with the Visit Rapid City’s brand message: “DO BIG THINGS”), but the biggest winners of all were the Visit Rapid City CVB team, who had previously struggled to find a unique way to showcase their amazing offerings for meeting planners.
Now an organic event was taking place that would echo throughout social media, garner buzz in the industry, and reap lasting returns. The user-generated content from the event, which involved social postings and selfies from the contestants throughout the competition, turned into resounding publicity for Rapid City as the competition was held during National Tourism Week & the CVB utilized the Amazing Rush to showcase the power of tourism to the local community.
The Results Are Everywhere
The teams, consisting of two planners each, that were chosen to compete for The Amazing Rush were Carol Ann Drick, Founder/Director of Conscious Awareness, Inc., whom partnered with Nicole Malcom, planner for the American Holistic Nurses Association; and the team of two “Amys”: Amy Norris, Planner for HelmsBriscoe and the Association of Partners for Public Lands, and Amy Matthews, Director of Finance & Administration for the Public Lands Alliance.
Here is what the contestants had to say about The Amazing Rush experience:
“This has been a wonderful opportunity, and I’m looking forward to seeing the next contestant’s race.” – Nicole Malcom
“I had a great time and good opportunity to see what Rapid City has to offer. Much to share with our board of directors” – Carole Ann Drick
“I think this is a marketing plus for you! While Rapid City is a place so many people want to go to, it is a place that most planners haven’t seen. By doing this, you got great exposure and interest from others.” – Amy Norris
“Best FAM ever!” – Amy Matthews
Press coverage for The Amazing Rush:
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“Amazing initiative. One of the more creative efforts”
The response we got was more than expected.
The actual event was really flawless – The creativity and ability to drive attention.”
A veteran in Destination and Hotel Sales and Marketing, Shirley utilizes her expertise to develop services that assists DMO’s in research, generating leads and increasing awareness for the destination’s meetings product and experiences.