Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Media Blitzes Successfully Promote Oklahoma Tourism

Recently, members of OTRD’s Public Relations staff toured 11 cities in four states to brief travel writers, editors, on-air personalities, publishers, and station managers on Oklahoma tourism updates, as well as discuss story and promotional ideas.

This year, 15 representatives from 11 different tourism industry entities were able to join us. These media blitzes (as we like to call them) are a service provided by the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department meant to help industry partners promote their tourism destination or event by facilitating face-to-face marketing communication with media outlets throughout our region.

Our goals for the media briefings were to:
  • Build and enhance relationships with travel writers and various media outlets.
  • Generate awareness of the OTRD and its statewide tourism industry partners as resources for media seeking assistance and story ideas for Oklahoma-based coverage.
  • Increase interest in Oklahoma as a travel destination.
  • Create stronger working relations between industry partners and OTRD.

During the media blitz, we were able to visit 11 cities in four states, with immediate leads resulting from several meetings. We briefed more than 30 media outlets, of which you’ll find a complete list below:

Wichita Falls, TX
- Times Record News
- GAP Broadcasting (KBZS, KNIN, KWFS)

Ft. Worth, TX
- Virtuoso Magazine
- American Way Magazine
- Celebrated Living Magazine
- Nexos Magazine
- Fort Worth Star Telegram
- Country Legends/Fort Worth Broadcasting (KTFW, KFWR, KRVF, KRVA)

Dallas, TX
- Dallas Morning News
- Cowboys and Indians Magazine
- Southwest Airlines Spirit
- Clear Channel Radio (KZPS & KDGE)
- Cumulus Broadcasting (KDBN, KLIF, KPLX, & KTLK)

Joplin, MO
- Zimmer Radio (KXDG, KIXQ, KJMK, KZRG & KZYM)
- Joplin Globe

Springfield, MO
- Boomer Magazine
- Clear Channel Radio (KGBX, KGMY & KXUS)
- 417 Magazine
- Springfield News Leader

Fayetteville, AR
- Northwest Arkansas Times
- Citiscapes Metro Monthly Magazine

Fort Smith, AR
- Cumulus Radio Stations (KOMS, KBBQ, KLSZ & KAYR)
- Clear Channel Radio (KKBD, KMAG, KWHN, KYHN & KZRB)
- Times Record

Wichita, KS
- Wichita Eagle
- Connoisseur Media (KVWF, KIBB)
- Active Aging

Topeka, KS
- Cumulus Radio (KMAJ, KDVV, KTOP, KQTP & KWIC)
- Topeka Capitol Journal
- Grit Magazine

Lawrence, KS
- Lawrence Journal-World

Kansas City, MO
- Kansas City Star
- Wilks Broadcasting (KBEQ, KMXV & KSRC)
- KC Hispanic News
- Her Life Magazine

These briefings take a lot of work in planning, hitting the road, and following up on leads once we’re back home, but it is paying off. Within the first week of appointments, participants on the blitzes were already getting media requests from several of the contacts we met on the road. Package getaways for radio stations in Fort Worth, Kansas City, and Fort Smith have already been arranged while interest in print publications in Topeka, Fayetteville and other cities have called hoping to follow up with story ideas we pitched to them during the blitzes.

In addition to this year’s briefings, media inquiries continue to come in year-round from contacts we’ve made on previous blitzes. This means Oklahoma tourism stories are continuing to stay top of mind for reporters and they view our department and industry partners as great resources for editorial and promotional opportunities.

If you’re interested in joining us for next year’s round of Media Blitzes, stay tuned to this blog and our industry e-mails. Sign up typically begins in February.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Publication Research Results

OTRD recently partnered with BrandIQ to conduct research to better understand consumers’ reactions to the 2007 and 2009 Oklahoma Travel Guide layouts (alphabetical city listings versus regional), as well as gauge opinions and uses of the Events Guide to help plan future publications.

The results were extremely informative and may have implications for your own guides and brochures. Below are some top line findings from this research.

The 2009 travel guide scored over 80% on all usability measures. It is preferred over and rated better than the 2007 travel guide.

  • Regional organization works better, but all other measures of usability rate higher as well(grids, indexes, etc.)
  • The guide makes most people feel better about Oklahoma, and over half would visit Oklahoma because of the travel and event guides
  • After getting the guide, a very high percentage actually vacationed here. Three-fourths of those who requested the guide vacationed/took a getaway in the state. Oklahomans (88%) were more apt to use the guide to stay in state than out-of-staters (64%), but two-thirds is a very high percentage.
  • The guide was highly regarded compared to guides from other states

Potential enhancements

  • People liked some of the features in the 2007 guide, such as restaurant listings and details like "unique to Oklahoma restaurants" and more information about accommodations
  • While the 2009 accommodation grid was well liked, people want more lodging detail

Online and offline content

  • People generally have broadband access and ordered the guide after visiting
  • Even most of those who go online very infrequently have broadband access
  • The Internet is now being widely used and needs to work synergistically with printed materials – it is not "either-or" for the traveler, they use and expect to use both
  • Printed materials, including the maps, can be taken on the trip as a handy reference, and can play a role in the planning process

Event Guide

  • Events and festivals are expected to be included in the travel guide instead of being listed in a separate events guide
  • A detailed listing in the travel guide would be ideal, but many would be happy with major events listed in the travel guide and the rest on the website. Most would sign up for an email newsletter about upcoming events. Some expect detailed or current information online
  • Designing interaction between the travel guide, the Web site, and email outreach might be the ideal way to cover events and festivals

Of course, these findings only scratch the surface of the research results. If you're a data lover like me, feel free to review the entire report here.

As for how this research will impact OTRD's travel publications, we've decided a few things.

  • We'll keep the lodging grid in the Travel Guide instead of creating a separate accommodations guide like many states are doing
  • We'll try to enhance the information listed on the lodging grid as space allows
  • The demand for dining information unique to our state is high, so we're working with the Discover Oklahoma crew to develop a Destination Dining Guide which would be a companion piece to our Travel Guide. As always, the Travel Guide will still include dining highlights in lure and regional side bars, but a separate piece would allow for more detail.
  • Since demand for a separate Events Guide is low, we are developing a plan that will transition our event marketing from a printed piece to instead focus on driving traffic to for the latest event and festival information. We would compliment this with email alerts and possibly major event information in the Travel Guide. We will still produce an Events Guide for 2010, however this will likely be our last year to produce a separate guide specifically for events.

In addition to the planning and development implications of this research, there are also implications for you, our communities, attractions and advertisers.

  • More than half of survey respondents thought the Travel Guide was better than expected and said they would visit Oklahoma BECAUSE of what they had discovered. Those that had requested an Oklahoma guide had requested one from another state, so this is a strong tool for helping "close the sale" for customers still undecided on a vacation destination. TAKE AWAY: The Travel Guide is a successful marketing tool so you need to ensure your information is accurate. If it's correct on it should be correct in the next guide, so take time now to search the website for your info.

  • More than half of survey respondents reacted positively to the Travel Guide and its ease of use -- 83% said it made them more interested in visiting Oklahoma. TAKE AWAY: If they see your attraction(s) in the guide, they will be more likely to visit. Send us updated high resolution images of your area for our photo library to increase your chances of being featured in an article or side bar.

  • 84% said they would be likely to read the ads in the guide and they prefer them at the end of regional sections rather than scattered throughout. TAKE AWAY: You need to be advertising in the Travel Guide. Either through a regional marketing association or directly with OTRD, this is an important way to reach travelers. They are paying attention to the ads and even seek them out.

We realize this is a lot of information to process, but we share it in an effort to propel our department and industry efforts forward in a way that is research-based and meets the needs of today's travelers. Over the years, our publications have won many design and writing awards, but nothing is as satisfying as knowing we're on target with what our customers want and better understand how we can continue to make improvements in branding and marketing Oklahoma.

Monday, May 4, 2009

2010 OklaStrong Travel Show Schedule Announced

The FY 2010 OklaStrong Travel Show Program details are now available. Please click here to review the upcoming travel show season schedule and new discount information. Below are some of the highlights from this year's program:
  • The FY 2010 OklaStrong Travel Show Program offers a variety of marketing efforts through exhibitions which allows for several levels of participation at 15 different shows.
  • Due to the challenging economic times, there will be a 5 percent reduction in cost associated with the “OklaStrong” program this year!
  • The opening date for submitting applications is May 11, 2009 at 8:00 A.M. Forms must be faxed to 405-230-8600.

Please contact Charlie Wallar with any questions, 405-230-8417 or