A destination thrives best when its marketing strategy is well-rounded. In promoting a destination, you want to make sure you are presenting it as the place to be for any activity, whether that’s leisure travel, special events or meeting and group travel. By targeting efforts to reach meeting and event planners, you’re supporting vital midweek travel for the destination which in turn supports lodging partners and local businesses when they need visitation the most. In addition, trends are showing that interest in blended travel, or extending one’s trip beyond the meeting for leisure travel, is on the rise. According to meetings data provider Knowland, as of June 2022, meetings volume in the United States was up 30.3% year over year. And in a recent Skift article, it was noted that small meetings and blended travel are helping with the overall recovery of business travel as a whole.
Interested in putting a meetings campaign together? Here are some best practices to help you get started:
- Identify Venues: Work with your lodging partners and other businesses to identify what is available and where. Meeting planners find it helpful to know if lodging is available at the venue, so look to organize venues in this way.
- Create a Landing Page: Just like with any campaign, it’s important to make sure your audience has a holistic experience from the click on the ad to the information on the site. Landing page should follow a strategy based on the call to action you want the planner to take. This could be downloading resources, learning about venues or submitting an RFP to get more details for a certain event the planner may have in mind. You can also link to any relevant blogs you have on your site, which is a bonus for SEO efforts as well.
- Identify Your Audiences: Once the content is ready to support available venues, you can identify the groups your destination is ideal for. If the region only has smaller venue capacities, then the audience shouldn’t consist of individuals planning conventions. The audience should align with the type of event that is realistic for the destination.
- Develop a Campaign: Once you know your audience (who they are and where they’re located), you can tailor your message to the destination’s unique offers, highlighting those differentiating factors unique to the region. This could include things like highlighting team-building activities for an outdoor destination or highlighting walkable attractions and transportation in a city. Maybe the venues are more affordable than neighboring locations. Decide what factors make your destination stand out and entwine those into your messaging. At the same time, run paid media on tactics that align with your audience and their interests. Tactics such as display and paid social allow for flexibility and also provide more specific data that you can measure your campaign against. Partnering with trusted media publications is another route to take to help build brand awareness.
- Post on Social Media: While many think LinkedIn is the only place to post meeting and group event content, Facebook is also a great platform to reach this audience. Augustine has run a few different destination meetings campaigns that actually see better engagement on Facebook than on LinkedIn. Including both will help you fully round out your strategy. Consider paid and organic posts to support your meetings campaign messaging.
- Learn and Optimize: Now that the team is directly engaging with planners, make sure you’re putting emphasis on the follow-through. You have their attention; now, you just need to keep it. Utilize new, tempting leads to incentivize planners to learn more – this could be through a social contest, a CTA on your landing page or through purchased email lists – and build an email database from those. Also, learn from your paid campaigns. What is working and what isn’t? Who is clicking and what are they resonating with on your page? Are they engaging with content or quickly bouncing off the site? Are there other tactics you could try to better performance?
Ultimately, the goal of your efforts should align with driving quality traffic to the region. Those who travel for meeting and group events tend to stay longer and therefore spend more on local businesses and lodging. But most importantly, destination partners will get the help when they need it most – during the week. Join partners like Visit California supporting statewide visitation.