By: Karen Steele, SVP Marketing at Near
Initially, continued rising gas prices might’ve had some rural tourism boards worried about how their communities could be affected. With the national average at just over $4.13 a gallon, and at just over $4.55 a gallon in the state of Arizona, it’s easy to see why, too. Yet, travelers are showing no signs of slowing down their pent-up travel bug anytime soon. According to Longwoods International tracking study of American travelers, more than 90% of Americans have trips planned in the next six months.
Pinal County, spotted with both mountains and low valleys is a small county with a population of just under 450,000 and is tucked between Maricopa County and Pima County, Arizona’s two most populous counties. Pinal County is just an hour’s drive from the state’s capital, Phoenix, and is known for being a “convenient escape from the hustle and bustle,” according to the data, Pinal County is living up to everything it says it delivers.
“We just got our travel industry impact dashboard for 2020, and we were pleasantly surprised that Pinal County wasn’t hit as badly as other surrounding counties during the pandemic. We had a 31% dip, whereas Maricopa County, which is Phoenix, and then Pima County, had about a 50% dip in travelers from the pandemic,” said Courtney Gulley, Economic Development Coordinator at Pinal County. “Pinal has wide-open spaces and lots of fun activities like off-roading, and you don’t have to worry as much about social distancing.”
People flocking to wide-open spaces, especially those from over populous cities was somewhat of a trend during the pandemic. With the small impact in decreased travelers to Pinal County during the pandemic, Gulley said she was both relieved and shocked to see that travelers didn’t have any plans to cancel their road trips due to the significant increase in gas prices, another challenge she thought would have affected tourism to her community like the pandemic but did not. “I was shocked to read that road trips this spring actually outpaced pre-pandemic levels, but I get it because there’s a lot of pent-up demand,” Gulley said.
Pinal luckily proves to be a popular destination, despite challenges that could’ve impacted it, yet Gulley had a desire to better understand who Pinal’s typical traveler profile actually was. Tourism for Pinal County is still a new sector for the area, as it’s only had a tourism board for the past two years. “We were struggling to find out who our visitor was, and we just didn’t have a lot of data on who our travelers were, where they were coming from, and what they did once they arrived, so we took on Near to empower ourselves with the data intelligence we wanted,” said Gulley.
Data delivers growth and innovation
Using human movement data, collected through smartphones, to identify who Pinal County’s true traveler really was, and where they were coming from was the secret sauce the tourism board used to empower itself with the actionable intelligence it needed to decide where to distribute its resources best, where their top markets were, and also find out where to best place billboards and run ads. With the blend of marketing and operational intelligence, human movement data resulted in Pinal County more concretely understanding who their top tourists were, and to better target them, which ultimately increased visits.
Pinal County also found pertinent information like where its top visitors came from, outside the state, like California, Texas, and Minnesota; this allowed them to understand where ads needed to run. The data also helped to identify the most ideal time of year these travelers came to the county. Also having the data that told Pinal what travelers wanted to do when they actually arrived, allowed Pinal County to not only target their most important travelers on its site and ads but also allowed them to improve their traveler’s trips– knowing where travelers were going allowed the county to advise future travelers best on the most popular locations– all in efforts to make the best overall traveler experience possible.
Leveraging the power of data intelligence to make strategic decisions
The value that data intelligence delivers to tourism boards and businesses that need it offers a wealth of insights on people, places, and products that also inform trends in human behavior in regard to where people are traveling, dining, shopping, as well as the attractions tourists are visiting– serving as paramount information for all tourism boards. Pinal County wasn’t the only rural county that experienced success during tough times in Arizona. Cochise County, another tourism destination in Arizona also leveraged data intelligence to understand who their travelers were, and how best to continue attracting them, both during, and after the pandemic, to today’s high gas prices.
Cochise County Tourism and Economic Council, or CCTEC, is made up of several towns offering hiking, biking, and bird watching among many other outdoor activities. Like Pinal, the county offers wide-open spaces, and a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle. Yet also being a drive destination like Pinal County with no local airport, Cochise also wondered how rising gas prices might at first affect it.
“Many travelers don’t know that we are here and aren’t aware of all the things we have to offer. We have been using data for more targeted promotions, and now tourists are starting to notice us,” said Kate Cox, Marketing Coordinator at Cochise County Tourism and Economic Council. “Just a couple of weeks ago we had a huge road cycling event that brought in over 1,000 people from 36 different U.S. states, from four different countries. People were leaving delighted with a newly discovered area; a lot of people said they can’t wait to come back and maybe even retire here.”
CCTEC leverages its data by using a 20 point of interest (POI) analysis so it can identify the demographics of everyone going to each specific POI, where they go from one POI to another, how much time they spend there, and whether or not they’re overnighting or simply just day visitors. The data also distinguishes local in-state travelers, from domestic and international visitors. The tourism board used data on its POIs to validate that the money it was putting into advertising was actually working and was getting more people to visit.
“Proving that the money I am putting into advertising is actually doing something, watching our numbers grow, and actually seeing what demographic was being hit with each ad allowed me to prove to my communities that our investments are valid,” said Cox.
The businesses with the most data win
Investing in streaming TV ads that show off a county’s beauty, and the reasons to visit is an expensive investment for any tourism board to make. Human movement data and the POIs analyzed allow businesses the opportunity to allocate resources correctly, such as advertisements. For example, CCTEC was ultimately able to use the data from its 20 POIs to find out it needed to run ads in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Dallas. In addition, the data also allowed for on-point digital remarketing efforts, so that any visitor to CCTEC’s site, for example, would be targeted with an ad.
The confidence data insights deliver tourism boards, and truly all enterprises in general, allows business decision-makers to make the right strategic and actionable moves. This power of combining human movement and audience data for actionable insights to market potential visitors is something Near uniquely provides the capability for enterprises to do in real-time. Businesses that have a solid understanding of who their visitors are allowed to know where to put their money or validate what it’s doing. This also helps to deliver the most ROI in ad investments, hence, more travelers. Pinal County and CCTEC are two tourism boards that are doing it right, using the data, and making their visitors have the best possible time– during any challenging time is what counts.
The Travel and Tourism Research Association Awards Program was developed to encourage and recognize excellence in the field of travel and tourism research and marketing. Entrants are judged on quality, originality, creativity, usefulness, results, and benefits to the travel and tourism industry.
Award Submissions are being accepted through April 8, 2022.
Submissions can be made through the award submission site HERE.
Awards will be announced at the 2022 TTRA International Conference in Victoria on June 16. Winners will be notified by May 16, 2022.
2022 Award Chair: Dr. Carla Barbieri, North Carolina State University, [email protected]
2022 AWARD OPPORTUNITIES:
Award opportunities for the 2022 TTRA International Conference include:
J. DESMOND SLATTERY AWARD (Academic Award)
Awarded to a master or doctoral student to assist with the completion of their thesis or dissertation.
Requirements: All master or doctoral students enrolled in a degree-granting program are eligible to submit a three-page abstract of their proposed research. The abstract must be in English, between 1,000-1,500 words, and must clearly describe the rationale, purpose, and methods of the study in a proposal format. Previous entries for this award are excluded and any entry for this award may not be submitted for any other TTRA award.
Criteria: The papers will be judged by a review committee that will examine the quality of the proposed research in terms of overall writing, relationship to travel and tourism, and its potential scholarly and practical contribution.
Award: The 2022 winning student will receive a $4,000 cash award, a plaque, and a complimentary registration to the International Conference.
DK SHIFFLET AWARD FOR RESEARCH EXCELLENCE (Practitioner Award)
Requirements: The DK Shifflet Award for Research Excellence recognizes a practitioner or their DMO for research that resulted or contributed to key decisions or actions for their organization and/or its constituents.
Criteria: The recipient must be a tourism practitioner or DMO in good standing in the travel and tourism industry and submit a 1-2 page summary outlining: the issue being addressed; the research designed or used to address the issue (may be original or licensed from third party research or research by a third party to which you had input); the outcome of the research; the decisions that were made, money that was saved or revenue that was earned based on the research.
A reference from someone in the organization who will be able to independently verify the impact of this work must be included.
Award: The recipient will receive a plaque, complimentary registration to the TTRA International Conference, and a $200 gift card.
KEELING AWARD (Academic Award given in even years)
Awarded to a doctoral student for their completed thesis or dissertation.
Requirements: All doctoral students enrolled (or previously enrolled) in a degree-granting program are eligible to submit an abstract of a completed, original dissertation of 1,000-1,500 words and must include an introduction, theory, methods, results, conclusions. On the cover page please include name, university graduated from, advisor’s name, and title of dissertation. Entry for this award may not be submitted for any other TTRA award. This work should have been completed between March 31, 2021, and March 31, 2022, as an enrolled doctoral student.
Criteria: The papers will be judged by a review committee that will examine the quality of research, contribution to scholarship, relationship to travel and tourism, usefulness/applicability, and quality of the paper.
Award: The winning student will receive a plaque and a $1,000 cash award, airfare, hotel accommodations, and complimentary registration to the TTRA International Conference. The winning student will also receive a complimentary TTRA professional membership for one (1) year. *Round-trip travel to the conference and lodging arrangement will be made and paid for TTRA.
DISTINGUISHED RESEARCHER AWARD
Requirements: This individual should be one who is recognized by their peers as a valuable resource in the tourism research community and who has provided outstanding service to the field. The recipient should be recognized by not only general overviews of contributions during their career but also recognized by specific examples of what they have done to advance tourism research, the people in it, and how they have worked to ensure that the tourism research community continues to flourish. Any noteworthy contributions made to the tourism research community should also be acknowledged.
Nominations must include: nominee’s name and contact information (including full address, email address, telephone number); number of years in the Tourism Research business; a general overview of the nominee’s contributions to the tourism research community; at least two (2) examples of noteworthy contributions made by the individual; contact information of two (2) individuals in the tourism research industry who wish to see this person nominated. Contact information must include printed name, signature, name of business, email address, and business address.
Nominations must be provided by someone other than the person nominated. Nominations must be submitted to the TTRA President and Executive Director.
Criteria: Individuals should be nominated via email application of an individual’s credentials noting all significant examples of how their talents are seen as being a resource in the tourism research community. These examples may be based upon but not limited to: outstanding service to the tourism research community ground-breaking research methodology or report; professional activity or technique that positively impacted the industry; etc.
All contributions will be considered. The TTRA awards committee will review entries and judge based on above criteria. All contributions meeting the above criteria will be presented to the TTRA Executive Committee for a final decision.
Award: The recipient will receive a plaque as well as a complimentary three (3) year membership in TTRA. Should this award not be presented posthumously, the award will be presented to the family or business associate of the family’s choice. A posthumous award will not carry a complimentary membership.
Disclaimer: The Distinguished Researcher Award is not limited to any one type of professional capacity within the tourism research community nor is it limited to the members of TTRA. All national and international contributions are to be considered for this award. TTRA reserves the right not to award the Distinguished Researcher Award if no one is nominated or for any other reason including incomplete applications, late applications, or if the achievement of the nominee are not clear or does not rise to the level of attainment sought by the review committees.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Lifetime Achievement Award is the highest honor given by the Travel and Tourism Research Association. This award is presented at the TTRA International Conference to the individual or organization that has made a highly significant contribution to TTRA as well as to the travel and tourism industry.
Requirements: The award is based on significant, long-term contributions to the industry and/or TTRA, including but not limited to: outstanding service; record of publication; and Professional activity (i.e.; research methodologies, techniques, and important positive outcomes for the industry, and/or marketing concepts, techniques and important positive outcomes for the industry).
Criteria: Nominations must be communicated to the TTRA President and the Executive Director. Written communication should specify the contributions the nominee has made or how the nominee has met the above criteria. Award determined by the TTRA Executive Committee – nominations to the President and Executive Director.
Award: The recipient will receive a plaque, TTRA lifetime membership, and lifetime complimentary TTRA International Conference Registration.
CHAPTER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
The Travel and Tourism Research Association’s Chapter Achievement Award is presented to the chapter that best furthers the mission of TTRA through spirit, innovation, effectiveness, and creativity.
Requirements: Please include a proposal of 500 words to show the mission of TTRA through spirit, innovation, effectiveness, and creativity. You may also include an electronic copy of the advertisement or promotion, member recruitment collateral, newsletter, etc. to be reviewed.
Chapters have the option of submitting an entry from the following categories (or may create a category of their choice): membership recruitment and retention, member communications, programming and networking, member benefits, or outreach.
Criteria: This award is determined by a review team of practitioners.
Award: The winning chapter will be presented with a plaque and a $1,000 cash award.
The following awards will be decided by committee members and awarded at the conference:
CHARLES R. GOELDNER ARTICLE OF EXCELLENCE AWARD
This award is named for the long-time editor of the Journal of Travel Research – Charles R. Goeldner.
Awarded to recognize the most significant work in the Journal of Travel Research during the previous year.
Requirements: No entry is necessary.
Criteria: The Charles R. Goeldner Article of Excellence Award is presented to the author(s) of the article which is judged to be the best appearing in the Journal during the previous year. The award recipient(s) is determined by the JTR editor and his/her committee.
Award: Award recipient(s) will receive a plaque and a complimentary registration to the TTRA International Conference.
BEST RESEARCH PAPER AWARD
Awarded for the best research paper.
Requirements: For directions on how to enter your submission, please see the Call for Papers on the TTRA website. Be sure to follow the specific submission criteria as outlined via the Call for Papers (including deadline dates).
Criteria: The top three research papers will be presented at the conference; a winning paper will be named at the conference. Award: Plaques will be presented to the award winners at the TTRA International Conference.
BEST ILLUSTRATED PAPER AWARD
Awarded for the best visual paper presented at the conference.
Requirements: For directions on how to enter your submission, please see the Call for Papers on the TTRA website. Be sure to follow specific submission criteria as outlined via the Call for Papers (including deadline dates).
Criteria: The top visual paper will be voted on during the Ideas Fair for Illustrated Papers; a winning paper will be named at the conference. Award: A plaque will be presented to the award winner at the TTRA International Conference.
BEST GRADUATE 3-MINUTE THESIS AWARD
Awarded to the best graduate colloquium paper presented at the conference.
Requirements: All submissions will be considered for this award.
Criteria: A panel of three judges will evaluate papers recommended by reviewers according to the following criteria: theoretical innovation, methodological rigor, and potential for making change in the travel and tourism industry and/or the communities in which tourism takes place.
Award: A plaque will be presented to the award winner at the TTRA International Conference
BEST QUALITATIVE RESEARCH METHODS AWARD
Awarded to the best qualitative research methods paper presented at the conference.
Requirements: All submissions will be considered for this award.
Criteria: A panel of three judges will evaluate papers recommended by reviewers according to pre-determined criteria.
Award: A plaque will be presented to the award winner at the TTRA International Conference.
(The awards committee reserves the right not to present an award in any given year. Non-winners will not be notified.)
2022 AWARD SUBMISSIONS:
Award Submissions are being accepted through April 1, 2022.
Submissions can be made through the award submission site HERE.
Scott Meis, and Donna Larsen, past presidents, invite you to take advantage of the new TTRA $50 USD retiree’s membership rates and special conference rates!
Now that you have been retired for a number of years, do you ever miss your contacts with past TTRA members and colleagues? Or are you wondering what is new in tourism research? Do you recall with nostalgia those networking sessions at past TTRA Conferences? Thinking of maybe taking in the next regional or international conference if the price is affordable?
Now is your chance to catch up on the latest research themes and to renew those past professional friendships. After several years of lobbying by interested retired members, TTRA is offering a new Retiree’s Membership level at a rate of $50 USD annually (the same as the student rate). In addition, they will now have a retiree conference rate of $450 USD (also the same as students). Also, for advance planners, the early bird rate for retiree members will be $400 USD.
It would be great to hear from you and see you all again in Victoria, BC Canada this summer!
Scott M. Meis and Donna Larsen,
Past Presidents, TTRA International and Canada Chapter
GO LAUREL HIGHLANDS
Kristin Ecker, Senior Director of Marketing, GO Laurel Highlands
MMGY Global announced the Yesawich Award For Marketing Excellence at the 2022 Marketing Outlook Forum Conference. This award recognizes excellence in either a Marketing Manager/Director or a Destination Marketing Organization (DMO).
This award is presented to a DMO and highlights the tireless work of a marketing organization to understand the market and target audience, then promote and measure travel and tourism of their destination. This includes the discovery of an imaginative or innovative marketing program or campaign and judging how its success was measured.
Excellence is defined as having created an outstanding marketing strategy based on relevant data and research resulting in a superior marketing effort with significant, measurable results.
Established in 1958, GO Laurel Highlands is the official destination marketing organization for Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland counties in southwestern Pennsylvania. A magnificent mountainous region, the Laurel Highlands spans 3,000 square miles and is located an hour’s drive east of Pittsburgh. The beautiful four-season destination offers spectacular natural scenery, outstanding outdoor recreation, historic sites and attractions, family activities, and world-class resorts. Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands is home to four architectural masterpieces by Frank Lloyd Wright – Fallingwater®, Kentuck Knob, Mäntylä and Duncan House – Nemacolin, downhill skiing at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Flight 93 National Memorial, Idlewild and Soak Zone amusement park, whitewater rafting in Ohiopyle State Park, and more. First launched in 2019, the Laurel Highlands Pour Tour has become a highly sought-after, incentivized craft beverage trail drawing in visitors from across the mid-Atlantic and serves as a catalyst for significant economic impact in the region’s communities. CONGRATULATIONS GO LH!
Tourism Program Manager for the Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing
The Rising Star Award is presented to an emerging leader (formerly known as a young professional) employed in the travel and tourism industry. TTRA wishes to recognize this person for commitment to increasing his/her expertise in the industry, demonstrated leadership abilities, and outstanding accomplishments that have added value to travel and tourism.
Ian Centrone currently serves as the Tourism Program Manager for the Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing. He is responsible for managing award-winning marketing programs with a focus on public relations, digital media strategies, and industry relations to stimulate the growth of Martin County’s tourism industry. Prior to this role, Ian worked as a freelance travel writer and photographer, contributing to print and digital publications such as Travel + Leisure, National Geographic, Esquire, Men’s Journal, Hemispheres, Fodor’s, and more. He also co-authored “Sustainable Escapes, a curated guide book published by Lonely Planet featuring the world’s leading low-impact properties and experiences. His previous experience includes various communications and marketing roles at Saatchi & Saatchi, NBCUniversal, and Hawkins International Public Relations. A native New Yorker, Ian spent his high school years in Martin County and earned his B.S. in advertising and communications studies from the University of Florida and Digital Marketing Certificate from Cornell University. CONGRATULATIONS IAN!
Welcome to the 10th edition of the TTRA Asia-Pacific (APac) Chapter Newsletter.