Balancing Safety and Innovation for Tourism During the Pandemic

/ Case Study - Advanced Measurement

/ The Brief

Balancing Safety and Innovation for Tourism During the Pandemic

The True Independent Holdings team collaborated to create a proprietary tool for a tourism client that responded in real-time to both the COVID-19 pandemic and consumer interest in travel. Using this tool, we had a unique data set to inform decisions regarding geotargeting, messaging, and frequency to ensure the proposed strategy aligned with likelihood of travel as well as safety.

/ Highlights

124MM Impressions
3% Lift in New Website Visitors
20% Lift in Time Spent on Site

/ Challenge

COVID-19 had a substantial impact on the travel and tourism industry, including one of Coegi’s tourism clients. Spring/Summer, historically their largest promotional period, came to a rapid halt as COVID-19 rapidly spread in 2020.

The tourism client’s ongoing objective is to support the travel and tourism industry throughout the state; however, being a government-funded organization, they also had to be careful to avoid appearing reckless or promoting unsafe travel that could contribute to the spread of COVID-19. As a result, they tasked the True Independent Holdings team with developing a targeting strategy that continued to grow the industry in a way that was responsible and innovative.

/ Solution

In Fall 2020, the True Independent Holdings team collaborated to create a proprietary tool that responded in real-time to both the COVID-19 pandemic and consumer interest in travel to allow for effective decision making and dynamic adjustments to our campaigns. The end result was the COVID-19 Scoring Model.

RADaR, a data and analytics agency that is a part of True Independent Holdings, developed a scoring tool that crossed both weekly CDC level data regarding COVID-19 (case levels, 7 day rolling averages, death rates) with real-time interest indicators (google trends data, actual website activity, on-site conversions) to give each county in the state a score from 1-4 that indicated the level of opportunity in each market. Using this tool, we had a unique data set to inform decisions regarding geotargeting, messaging, and frequency to ensure the proposed strategy aligned with likelihood of travel as well as safety. Coegi and True Media collaborated to automate the information available to this tool and seamlessly apply it to our digital media buys for the client and create greater efficiency.

With this approach, we were able to continue the recommended omnichannel approach and expand awareness against a general traveler audience that had a broader opportunity scope, as well as passion audiences based on preferred activities in the state. One unique approach taken was to tap into Family Roadtrippers and Dog Lover audiences who the team believed were more likely to travel in their personal vehicles for closer to home trips with small groups. As winter began, a greater focus was placed on winter recreation to reach people who were seeking ways to get outdoors while remaining safe such as skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling, etc. Finally, Placed location data was added on top of our target audience persona targeting in lower-funnel campaigns to ensure the campaigns were not reaching users who were strictly isolating, thus impacting campaign success.

Despite the pandemic, we saw strong results in the latter half of 2020. Our campaigns cumulatively delivered over 124 million impressions, 61% above our initial projections. We were also able to achieve a 3% increase in new website visitors, and a 20% increase in time spent on site as compared to the same time in 2020. The niche family roadtripper audiences performed so well that it is also being implemented into the spring/summer campaign in 2021.

As we approached winter and the COVID-19 situation worsened, our COVID-19 Scoring model indicated that all counties were entering a critical level. This data and information allowed us to make an informed shift to our message and approach as we entered the winter season and allowed the client to explain the rationale to their stakeholders. Rather than promoting our standard message and push toward museum visits (which had been a planned campaign for winter), we were able to remain agile and pivot our strategy to a greater focus on awareness channels (rather than lower funnel activities such as travel guide downloads and footfall measurement) with a new creative message that focused on planning and future travel. Our team continued to use the model to monitor recovery and determine when and where it made sense to reinstate standard messaging.

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