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Four Reasons CVBs Should Sponsor More and Advertise Less

By Diane Knoepke Dec 7, 2009

Can I really tell CVBs to spend less on advertising? Am I brave enough to court the wrath of media entities and the hospitality and travel industries? OK, no.

CVBs, tourism boards and destinations should spend fewer marketing dollars on one-off advertising and a la carte direct mail marketing. Instead, spend dollars on ads and direct mail campaigns as part of—or activation of—integrated sponsorship packages.

Currently, CVBs and destinations are spending moderate dollars on sponsorships, primarily in sports (pro, college, and participatory), entertainment, industry associations, and festivals. Yet for a category so purely focused on marketing an experiential product, a disproportionate number of dollars are spent outside of the sponsorship realm.

Here are my reasons for waving the sponsorship flag.

  1. A picture is worth 1,000 words. A good experience is worth 1,000 room nights. Sponsorship is still the medium that can deliver all five—or if it’s a haunted destination, six—senses. The culture, music, food, and personality of a place can only be lived through a visit . . . or a sponsorship. For example, the Bermuda Department of Tourism leveraged its partnership with the Boston Red Sox by hosting a Bermuda Night at Fenway this June to give the Red Sox Nation a taste and feel for Bermuda. For a synopsis, check out their video recap here.
  2. It’s [still] time to do something new. Sure, digital media has dramatically changed the way we market everything. But even so-called new media can look pretty formulaic in the tourism space. [Banner ads + postcard + photo/video upload = database-generating sweepstakes promotion.] Differentiate from what all the other destinations do, and bring desired visitors into your world in a new way. Malta Tourism Authority and Sheffield United FC partnered and made visitmalta.com the shirt sponsor for huge exposure. Tourism Montreal, a Premier Partner of The Professional Convention Management Assn. (PCMA), is doing a hotel key card promotion and serving breakfast in bed to meeting planners staying in official conference hotels in 2010. (I’m not a planner, but I’m staying in the block for the January Annual Meeting so my fingers are crossed!)
  3. It’s a great medium for co-ops. Much like CVBs and attractions co-op advertising buys, significant opportunity lies in purchasing co-op sponsorships to stretch those marketing dollars. Mexico Tourism Board and the Canadian Tourism Commission have wrangled CVBs, tourism boards, attractions, and convention centers in the past to build “pavilions” at hospitality trade shows and events. The B2B angle works; and we should see more co-op tries for B2C properties as well—after all, much of what makes a destination is what’s there, whether it be outdoor beauty, the arts, or entertainment venues. (I’m looking at you, Vegas.) If you’re not familiar with this idea, think about the common practice of several departments or brands within a company sponsoring under the corporate header. A co-op is very similar in execution and activation.
  4. The cross-promotional connections are too good to pass up. Many brands synonymous with a location (or the experience it evokes) make great cross-promotional partners for CVBs and tourism offices. They up the fun factor, evoke loyalty, add accessibility, and increase reach in key markets. A sponsor roster like that of the Ochsner Ironman 70.3 New Orleans yields several ideas for how The Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism could team up with Abita Beer, CC’s Community Coffee House, and/or Boudreaux's Butt Paste on some terrific segmented campaigns.

So please keep on marketing those destinations, and use some advertising and direct mail efforts to enhance the experiences that only sponsorships can communicate.

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Diane Knoepke

About the Author

Diane is managing director, client leadership for IEG Consulting, where she supports the team’s growth and innovation. Throughout her career, she has advised more than 50 property and brand clients on marketing and social value creation, sales, measurement and strategy. She delights in helping people change organizations more effectively. Follow Diane on Twitter!

 

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