Tag Archives: Travel Industry

Link Friday: The Infographic Edition

Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 by Alan

After the recent popularity of our infographic about Rhinelander’s famed Hodag, this week’s Link Friday will focus on how infographics have become a common and useful marketing tool.

That’s all from us. Have a good holiday weekend, everybody!

Link Friday: The Intern Edition

Posted on Friday, April 20, 2012 by Alan

I want to send a shout out to our interns today: Sam (web) and Lindsey (photo), who have been around for a few weeks, and Madison (social media), who started today.  We’re excited to have you all on board at P&BHQ.

(And I promise I’ll stop asking you all to go get me coffee.)

Anyway, here are a few links to share on this gloomy Friday afternoon in Wisconsin’s capital city:

That’s all for us. Have a good weekend, everybody!

Birdwatchers Bring Bucks

Posted on Monday, April 9, 2012 by Tyler

Each year, more than 70 million Americans spend $45 billion dollars in the process of observing, feeding and watching wildlife. There are at least 30 million birdwatchers in the U.S., and some estimates have put the number as high as 80 million people.

The expansion of birdwatching and wildlife viewing stems from the growing urbanization of America. More people than ever before are living in non-rural settings. The desire to reconnect with nature leads many of these people to seek out places where they can see birds and animals in their natural habitat.

Why should tourism-related businesses pay attention to the growing number of birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts? Because they travel and they spend money.

  • A 2001 survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service showed that nationwide, 18 million people had taken one or more away-from-home birdwatching trips.
  • A 1999 survey along the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail found that only 4.6% of the people using the trail were Texas residents. The survey also found that the average trip was more than eight days in length.
  • A survey of the participants in the “2004 Potholes and Prairies Birding Festival” in Jamestown, North Dakota, found that 83% of the out-of-town participants had household incomes over $50,000.

The economic potential of birdwatching and wildlife viewing is significant. While it might not be feasible to launch an entire promotional campaign targeting birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts, it is easy to include birds and wildlife in your traveler information materials. Your promotional materials about local parks and natural areas should include descriptions of the ecology and any interesting or unusual bird, animal or plant species found there.

It is very helpful if tourism information resources—tourism office, retailers, hotel desk staff, etc—know of the best birdwatching spots in area. A basic knowledge of the location of the best birding areas is all that’s needed—nobody needs to become an ornithologist.

Another great way to target birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts is by offering special “Birdwatcher” themed overnight packages. Offering a “Two-night Birdwatchers Special” might be just the ticket for attracting a few extra visitors during the spring and fall.
Start becoming aware of the growing number of birdwatchers and wildlife viewers who like to travel. You’re going to find that they’re a very common species.

Winter Is Here—Now What?

Posted on Monday, January 9, 2012 by Tyler

In destination marketing, the term “shoulder season” stands for those times of the year when nobody seems to want to travel. Occupancy rates are down at lodging establishments, restaurants are below capacity, attendance at attractions is down and retailers see fewer customers walk through their doors.

In many places in the northern United States, winter is the shoulder season. In Wisconsin, the post holiday shopping phase of winter is the ultimate shoulder season. And springtime in Wisconsin, with its unpredictable weather, can also be excruciatingly slow for the state’s travel industry.

Shoulder seasons are a challenge. But as any business owner knows, the most constructive way to deal with a challenge is with thoughtful action. So, here are several tried-and-true methods for increasing business during Wisconsin’s often long, generally unpredictable winter travel shoulder season:

Create an event. Mid-winter festivals, open houses, trunk shows, live entertainment—nearly any out-of-the-ordinary happening can be used to drum up business during the long winter months. Though it’s hard to lure people out of their warm homes, there is such a thing as cabin fever. Give people exciting reasons to travel, promote it properly and you’re on your way to injecting some warmth into frozen winter sales numbers.

Target winter enthusiasts. Just who are these folks who love winter? Snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers, ice anglers, geocachers and downhill skiers. Target these niche markets with products or services that are significant or timely to them and you might find a new area for sales growth during the winter. Targeting might be as simple as putting a sign outside your business that says, “Welcome Cross-Country Skiers.”

Be big and bold with your sales pitch. Winter is no time to be a shrinking violet. Use big signage and bold sales language. Big, Big, BIG and hot, hot, HOT is what we’re talking about. It takes a bit more muscle to move consumers during the mid-winter months.

Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day. Face it—winter can be very long in Wisconsin. You need to use any excuse possible to create some excitement and interest. Mid-winter holidays like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day—or any holiday, real or made up—can serve as the basis for some type of promotion.

Overnight packages. During late winter and early spring, travelers in Wisconsin tend to be short-term planners. Offering overnight packages or other special package deals can entice these last-minute trip takers.

Cross-promote and partner. Work with other businesses and local allies to help one another increase customers. Strategic partnerships between restaurants, lodging and retailers can help to boost everyone’s mid-winter sales numbers.

Thoughtful action is the only way to counteract the inevitable shoulder seasons that come around each year. Make plans this year to have your best winter ever.

Where do travelers spend their money?

Posted on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 by Tyler

Travelers spend approximately $12 billion each year in Wisconsin. More than half of these expenditures are spent on shopping and dining—over $7 billion.

According to the state’s most recent report on traveler spending, nearly $4 billion is spent on shopping and $3.4 billion on food each year. The next highest item on the traveler expenditure list is recreation at nearly $3 billion, which consists of an amalgam of items, from gambling and liquor to fishing licenses and event tickets. The remaining segment is lodging at $1.6 billion.

Despite those numbers, there is a lingering belief even within the industry that travel revenue goes to lodging and recreation-related businesses. The reality is that these are the two smallest pieces of the pie.

Although the majority of travel expenditures go to shopping and dining, they are not the reasons travelers give for selecting a travel destination. In a 2003 study, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism found that for people traveling to urban areas, shopping ranked fourth on the list of reasons why they traveled. Dining didn’t even make the top 10. When they looked at people headed to rural destinations, shopping was ranked seventh and dining ninth.

The top reasons people gave for choosing a destination were:

  • visiting friends
  • festivals
  • outdoor activities
  • scenery/natural beauty

People choose their destinations based on fun, recreation and socializing. It is the trails, available leisure activities, festivals and other recreational assets that help travelers make their decisions about traveling to a destination. But it appears that nearly all travelers, no matter their recreational interest, enjoy shopping and dining when on vacation.

When you consider how people live today, this makes sense. Shopping and dining are entertainment for many people. When people aren’t traveling, they spend much of their leisure time shopping and dining. There is a joke in Wisconsin that when people aren’t eating, they are busy talking about where they’re going to eat next. The same goes for shopping: think of how much of our conversation time and mental effort goes into deciding what to buy and where to buy it.

What does this all mean? For businesses—particularly restaurants and retailers—it means that you should be aware that a good number of your customers are probably people who have come to your area to visit friends, use the trails, enjoy the scenery and attend events. To better serve the needs of these customers, you might consider offering WiFi and visitor guides. Your staff should be ready to give basic driving directions and suggestions about places to visit in the area. Most importantly, know that visiting your dining or retail establishment is an extremely important part of their travel experience.

Why here?

Posted on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 by Tyler

Cute puppy for destination marketing awareness - why here?With all the travel destinations in the Midwest, why would someone choose yours? It’s a good question. And during a period of economic change, when travelers are reconsidering their travel habits and pondering new vacation and getaway options, it’s the crucial question for every destination.

Communities and tourism-related businesses should be able to quickly answer the question “Why here?” What do you have that no other destination can offer? Are you the perfect escape destination for a particular metro area? Does your community have an alluring personality that truly sets it apart? What recreational, cultural or scenic wonders do you offer? Are you folksy? Are you cool?

You have to have something. Whether you’re a remote backwater perfect for paddlers or an upscale shopping paradise, you’ve got something that makes you shine above all other destinations. The key is having the honesty, humility and experience to identify just what that is. When you find it, you’ve got a seed that can grow into one heck of a destination marketing strategy.

Too often, destinations choose to advertise the assets that they think people want, even when the destination doesn’t really have those particular assets. Any success that follows from such a plan is short-lived. Marketing and advertising can attract new travelers to an area, but it is the traveler’s experience that determines whether or not they come back. False or misleading marketing messages just create dissatisfied travelers.

So, figure out what makes you so special and then market the snot out of it. That’s destination marketing in a nutshell (although it’s maybe a touch more complicated than that).


I’m a Cutting Edge Marketer, Right?

Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2011 by Alan

Facebook Places, Yelp and Foursquare are technologies P&B is watching closely.

After months of painful persuasion, you did the impossible. You finally convinced your board that your destination belongs on social media. It took every ounce of marketing clout your department could muster, but you talked those fuddy-duddies into a Twitter account, Facebook page, and your very own blog.

Now you’re reaching travelers where they’re comfortable. Young people love your snappy updates and comment on every morsel you offer up. You’re sending Tweets faster than Charlie Sheen on a late night bender. It’s been a long, muddy, uphill battle. But you, and your destination’s future, are the big winners.

That’s the good news. Now here’s some bad news. The battle for new technologies in destination marketing is just heating up. And those victories you’ve won? They’re just round one in an on-going war over the future shape of destination marketing. Here’s a glimpse at three new technologies your destination probably isn’t worrying about, but will be soon:

SEO: Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the practice of improving a website’s natural (or organic) search engine ranking. Say you’re a great destination for trout fishing. You’ll want to show up on the first page of Google results (and preferably in the first spot), whenever someone searches for “trout fishing.” SEO agencies optimize website copy, title tags, build links and assess the competition in order to move your website up.

Checking-in: Location-based software is the future for social media. To check-in, people use their GPS-enabled smart phone to connect with a local server, “checking-in” with a local place, which sends an update out to social networks. Check out this contest Gap ran a few months ago where they gave away a pair of jeans to people who checked-in with Facebook at a Gap store. Think about how your destination might use these check-ins for giveaways, promotions or even surveys.

QR Codes will someday make conventional coupons obsolete.

QR codes: Again, a mobile feature, these codes can be scanned by newer generation smart phones. Once the code is scanned, the user’s browser can be sent to a website of your choosing. QR codes are already being used for scavenger hunts, coupons and even nutritional information.

Here’s the thing about new media: it’s still a giant question mark for destination marketers. Because even if you’re on top of the next big thing (like Facebook or Twitter), the thing after that (SEO, checking-in, QR codes or something completely off the radar) is coming. And it’s coming fast. Do you have someone on the lookout for it?

Pilch & Barnet Annual Social – 10 Year Anniversary!

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 by Tyler

The Pilch & Barnet TeamThis morning, the Pilch & Barnet team strolled into the office just a tad tardy and a bit sleepy after a late
night out.

Last night was the Pilch & Barnet Annual Social at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The team convoyed to the Wisconsin Dells to meet Lyn and Susanne, who were already at the conference. Many hands made short work of setting things up and just as soon as the last bottle was thrown on ice, the door opened and the party had begun.

For all of us here at Pilch & Barnet, the annual social is an exciting event. For me, it’s the only time I get to see people I only get to interact with via phone and email. I get to hear the buzz about what’s happening in Wisconsin tourism. And I get to meet new people and hear about their communities.

This year’s social was really special. We were celebrating the 10th anniversary of Pilch & Barnet. It’s a real celebration for everyone on the team because we all feel quite fortunate to work in the field that we do with the people that we do. So last night was pretty great and we are all so thankful that we had so many of our friends there to celebrate with us.

Tomorrow, Kindra and Austin will head back to the Wisconsin Dells to join Lyn and Susanne for two social media seminars that Pilch & Barnet is leading. If you want a crash course on getting started in social media, you should really take one of these seminars.

PS – Check out our photo album on Facebook.

In Tourism, a Continued Shift Toward Last Minute Trips

Posted on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by Tyler
A time-strapped traveling public is changing how they travel

CanoeingThere has been a lot of tourism industry press about the increase in shorter trips and last-minute travel planning. What started as a curious trend just a few years ago has become a sustained shift in how Americans are planning their vacations and spending their vacation time.  There is an emerging shift in the way Americans not only travel, but how they view their time and resources. It is more than just a live-in-the-moment psychology at work. There are some real financial and social realities that are helping to shape traveler habits:

  • Uncertain economy – The overall wealth of individual American households is about 15% lower than it was before the recession. That alone could account for why Americans are reluctant to make long-term plans or go far from home. It also makes Americans more receptive to travel deals.
  • Continued increase in use of Internet for travel planning – When you want to know about a place, you simply look it up online and learn all about it. Travel inklings can quickly become planned vacations.
  • Gen X and Gen Y with different travel planning habits – The rise of Gen X and Gen Y consumers has been a major force in fueling the trend towards last-minute travel planning. Conversely, older travel segments, like Baby Boomers, have shown to be holding to more traditional travel planning habits. For example, a recent study found that nearly 80% of Baby Boomer females are “advanced” travel planners, tending to have their entire year of travel planned by the middle of January.

Farmer's MarketMany travel industry professionals are already changing how they market their businesses and destinations. There is an increase in email marketing to consumers. CVBs and other destination marketing organizations are actively marketing overnight packages and last-minute specials. Destination websites are being further developed to not only provide complete travel planning information, but to capture last-minute travel dollars by offering more ways visitors can book trips online.

The upshot for the tourism industry is this: Don’t wait until the last minute to pay attention to last-minute travelers.