Cities and Visitor Bureaus (CVBs) in North Texas
Assist in providing cities and visitor bureaus (CVBs) in the North Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth and close surrounding) areas with information regarding tourism and economic opportunities that they would find insightful, via investigating questions around the consumer journey around travel and other CVBs' responses to the pandemic.
Advertising and Awareness
- While there is no directly available information on the most effective advertising for North Texas, there is available information on what kind of advertising usually works for travel. Most millennials, at least, find ideas for their trips on social media. 68% of them said they'd found them on Facebook, and 60% on Instagram. 55% of those planning a vacation will bookmark a Facebook page that talks about their interests, allowing them to stay in touch with their plans.
- In addition, research has shown that different audience segments might be attracted to different types of ads. Therefore, rather than having a single ad graphic (ex. scenery, entertainment) it's important to actively match audience segments with the ad graphic that suits them. For example, Plano, Texas has been recognized as both the top place for a staycation and one of the top places for food lovers, so advertising focused on those two spheres of interest and targeted to Facebook users that have indicated they're interested in food or hotel stays are likely to draw travelers.
- Regardless of the type of audience, being able to visualize is key. 54% of leisure travelers said that a photo of destination was important in deciding where to go.
Consideration and Awareness
- The current top queries around North Texas, Dallas and Fort Worth revolve around coronavirus and the travel restrictions, as well as other news events.
- While there is a wealth of information on specific destinations that travelers might find appealing in the region, there has been no available study conducted on what attracts travelers to the North Texas region. Instead, the team looked at how Americans choose a destination in general. Chief among them (85%) was to see a child excited about an experience, so child-friendly destinations and activities are key. It's more important to relax and reduce stress (82%) than it is to have an exciting experience (78%) or do something new (73%).
- A similar approach was taken to how Americans plan a trip, since this is less dependent on where they're going (e.g. the North Texan region) than on their general search habits when planning a trip. This has become intensely digital and a straightforward search process no longer applies. For example, research done by Google shows that a potential traveler might have around 7,000 digital moments while researching a trip. 49% of that search volume went to online travel agencies, 20% to maps, 12% to meta search travel sites, and 8% to searches. Other sites included research on transportation, hotel stays, and social. Given that, it is more than likely that their visits to a city's website, a travel website, and more are not mutually exclusive and in fact will all be used in the course of normal trip planning.
- The focus should be on ensuring that there is significant presence on online travel agency sites and search, but just generally that assets are there to answer their questions rather than on limiting where they are going to find answers. According to Google, there are four main moments that an area's assets need to be prepared to win: when potential travelers are dreaming, when they are planning, when they are organizing, and when they are experiencing.
- There is no available information on the spend patterns of travelers that go specifically to the North Texas region, although as mentioned above Plano most likely has strong draws for staycations (meaning most likely spend on lodging) as well as on food. In general, however, domestic travelers spend most on food (26% of total expenses), then public transportation and lodging (20%). They only allot 17% to auto transportation, 10% to recreational or fun activities, and 7% towards shopping.
CVBs in North Texas
- There are more than 200 incorporated cities and towns in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Sorted by population, the five largest are Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Plano, and Garland.
- When it comes to Dallas, while hotel occupancy is likely to resume within a year after the pandemic, there will be longer-term effects especially around conventions and job losses. It may take up to 5 years for the industry to regain its former strength.
- VisitDallas has been forced to lay off 45% of its staff and cut millions of dollars in programming. However, they have been maintaining an ongoing web page on what is currently open, the status of restrictions in the city, and new safety standards in order to encourage visitors to visit restaurants and other open businesses. They are not currently working with any transit plans.
- Moving forward, they have stated that their goal will be to focus on heavy promotion and driving convention bookings.
- Their main challenge aside from the coronavirus is a controversy that embroiled the VisitDallas group last year regarding their use of money, as they were paying several high-ranking employees six-figure salaries. This news has been relatively widely disseminated in publications like NBC.
- Due to time constraints in this early research, the team was unable to spend more time analyzing other cities's reaction to the pandemic. This will be tackled in further research.
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