Making It Tangible

Inspiring people to come to a destination is critical to marketing success. But, frankly, it can be easy to get caught up in promoting how great a destination may be – without giving enough thought to the specific information travelers need to make the destination more tangible. Thanks to the myriad of communication methods to reach travelers, different tourism entities within a destination can (and must) have different roles in marketing to travelers – depending on whether it's a larger DMO or an individual business. But they need to work together to achieve the best results.

In Montana, the state spends the marketing dollars and does the heavy lifting to get people thinking about the destination. But once travelers are interested, they need very tangible ideas. "Wow, that's a beautiful place, but what can I actually experience there?" For the last several years, as their agency of record, we have been working with the Montana Office of Tourism to make Montana real for travelers. And for the last couple of months, we've been working with the state agency to conduct two-day workshops across the state.

The workshops are helping Montana constituents identify what they offer locally that is of interest to the target audience and how to best reach the people that are already planning on coming. During the workshops' brainstorming sessions, participants discuss their areas' strengths based on what research shows are the types of experiences that the target audience wants. Participants then create actually itineraries that highlight their areas' assets. In addition, we help the participants evaluate what's the best way for them to reach the target audience – without duplicating the state's efforts.

Leading up to each workshop, we've been hitting the road with our friends at the Montana Office of Tourism and spending three or four nights in each surrounding area. The purpose is two-fold. One, we get to experience each part of the state through the eyes of the traveler. And two, we are sharing that experience as it happens on the Montana Facebook page and its 134,000 friends. The Facebook response has been overwhelming, with hundreds of people interacting with each road trip post. The best response, thus far, has been to the photo of the mermaids at the iconic Sip-N-Dip bar in Great Falls, Montana: 880 likes, 200 comments and 183 shares. Yes, that speaks to the power of social media, but it also helps illustrate that the Montana Office of Tourism has the ability to engage the target audience when it has something tangible to share.

The next two-day workshop will be held at the Fairmont Hot Springs, April 26-27, in Anaconda, Mont.

Maclaren Latta

Vice President Of Consumer Insights

@maclarenlatta

After graduating from the University of Colorado and studying international affairs in Toulon, France, Maclaren spent four years on staff for a U.S. senator in Washington, D.C. She escaped to Montana to join ...

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