While 2016 exhibited growth for the city and its industries, it also challenged our community with disheartening tragedy and tension. However, despite all of this, the people of Baton Rouge continued to join together in stirring displays of humanity and compassion. Moving into 2017, which marked the official Bicentennial of Louisiana’s Capital City, Visit Baton Rouge sought to create a unique voice for the city that centered around the things that bring people together. It set out to bring in new waves of travelers and return visitors in our drive markets, in addition to fostering a rebirth of local passion and enthusiasm for our city. Our strategic efforts have sought to focus on not only increasing but effectively measuring brand awareness in order to increase hotel occupancy and ultimately position Baton Rouge as a nationally-recognized, premier destination providing an unmatched Louisiana experience to all visitors.
Tasked with a quick turnaround to assemble the overall strategy and creative for 2016, we employed a mix of primary, secondary and behavioral research to guide our strategy.
Primary Research: We first interviewed key staff at Visit Baton Rouge. These interviews with the marketing, sales and services departments allowed us to identify areas for growth based on staff’s “on-the-ground” insights as they interacted with current and potential leisure and meetings/conventions travelers. Through these interviews, we were able to accurately understand pain points and attainable opportunities.
Secondary Research: Working with Visit Baton Rouge, we utilized data from the most recent Louisiana Visitor Profile Report, and we identified our primary targets—6-hour drive markets (Dallas, Houston, Pensacola, Mississippi and Alabama) as well as in-state neighboring Louisiana parishes. Secondary markets included areas that, based on data, were high opportunity markets. Research indicated that Gen X and Millennial travelers offered greatest growth potential. We categorized our primary targets as the “in-the-moment millennial”—ages 25-34, HHI of $30k+, and looking for lesser known destinations with authentic cultures that provide enriching experiences—and the “Gen-X couple”—ages 35-64, HHI of $50k+, and looking for safe, family-friendly destinations and looking to make plans around school schedules. Further, we identified specific psychographics for our target demographic to guide our understanding of what would appeal
After identifying our target audience, we then analyzed which assets of the state and Baton Rouge particularly were found to be appealing along with our audiences’ top travel planning priorities. We also utilized data from a variety of travel resources to identify trends among leisure and group travel to better craft and tailor our messaging and media strategy.
Behavioral Research: Utilizing data gathered digitally from Google Analytics, we analyzed visitor profiles for audience traffic to the Visit BatonRouge website. This information allowed us to better understand the user habits of those who were visiting and interacting with the website and, in turn, aided in the crafting of messaging designed to bring viewers/users to specific, prime landing pages.
As a result of the research, MESH sought to increase efforts surrounding overall brand awareness for Visit Baton Rouge and the city of Baton Rouge by creating a unified brand voice through the advertising campaign, content marketing and social media. Through brand storytelling we outlined three unique categories that defined the city—music, food and festivals—to be marketed based on the seasonality of the city. As dictated by research, we aimed to target leisure travelers by a six-hour drive market. Additionally, we employed social media advertising to drive visitors into the city for events (and increase hotel occupancy) through strong calls to action. We also focused efforts on featuring the various amenities and attractions in the city to better tell the story of what the city has to offer to meetings and conventions planners. Deliverables included photography, print advertising, video webisodes, video pre-roll, digital programmatic ads, digital radio (Pandora), a sales video and a sales profile sheet.
The campaign, which launched in mid-Q1 of 2017 has yielded the following results as of March 2017:
Website sessions have increased by 178% year-over-year (YoY), users have increased by 177% YoY, and pageviews have increased by 91% YoY with top performing pages coinciding with the designated digital campaign tracking URLs.
Dedicated landing pages for the campaign have performed exceptionally well, drawing in the majority of site traffic; and for the first time since the website was launched in 2016, the top landing page was not the historical events page.
"It is such a joy to work with a company that continues to exceed our expectations and a honor to be able to partner with such an outstanding company to help represent our city."