Four Reasons I’ll be attending Marketing Outlook Forum in October
by Jennifer Griswold, Research and Analytics Manager, Wyoming Office of Tourism
The Marketing Outlook Forum is my number one conference for the year. Matching marketing and research in the tourism world is a researcher’s fantasy come to life. MOF is the place the magic occurs between great ideas and great results. Between the brilliant people that attend, the actionable forecasts and outlooks, new tools and trends available and how destinations are leveraging them you can get almost everything you need to plan the upcoming year. Below are my top four reasons to attend MOF.
Reason #1: Networking
Of course networking is the number one reason for attending any conference. Having that face-to-face time with your peers and the people you engage with and respect is imperative to making connections, building trust and credibility and learning new ideas. At MOF, there are several times to network as ask thought leaders questions on what they would do in your shoes. You can attend the destination breakfast and roundtable where there is an open Q&A forum where you can ask questions of a room full of researchers. Half the sessions at the conference are roundtable format, so you can exchange ideas with peers during sessions and breaks.
Reason #2: International Market Outlook
No where else can you get NTTO, U.S. Travel and researchers from almost every state together talking about international travel markets. This is the best opportunity for learning the latest international developments and how it will impact the visitor economy for your state, your city and your nation. Forecasting, currency valuation, and current events all go into the next year’s market update.
Reason #3: New Marketing Tools
Something special about MOF is the opportunity for marketers and researchers to learn about new tools available in marketing, product developments and case studies. In 2017, there was a large panel of TripAdvisor, ADARA, Arrivalist, and others discussing their latest data-driven marketing tools.
Reason #4: Case Studies
If you are having trouble seeing how marketing and research work hand-in-hand, there are numerous case studies available during sessions. Marketing executives discuss how they used research in their strategies to cultivate new marketing executions that performed above and beyond. Take these ideas and how-tos and go forth and multiply because this is the real meat of the conference.
It also showcases how print usage in US travel is far from being in decline and has held firm and even grown slightly over the last decade. Still around half of US travelers still use print at some point in their trip planning or travels each year. Print is showing continued strength in travel but certainly the role of print has shifted towards a far greater emphasis on inspiration and motivation. For more on the role of print – see our research summary from partners such as Destination Analysts and Longwoods in our white paper, The Value of Print.
Not surprisingly, a look at different generations of US travelers shows a far higher mobile, UGC and social usage among younger, Gen Y travelers. However still just under half of all Baby Boomers use traveler reviews and UGC in trip planning and almost one-third use social media content posted by friends/family.
This research highlights how content and media planning needs to respond to a highly complex, multimedia, fragmented marketplace. US Travelers are accessing more information from more places than ever before. Considering how to deliver your message across multiple channels and media types is key as is the ability to generate “cut through”. Measurement of results – though still highly imperfect, is essential to understand which content, creative, media and channels are working – and what are not.
Check out the companion blog “The Rise of the Hyper Informed Traveler” for added context and detail on these recommendations.
- “The Hyper-Informed Traveler“ The complex, fragmented & expanding media use of US leisure travelers 2008 – 2018
- “The Rise of the Hyper Informed Traveler“, Blog by Chris Adams, September 2017
- Destination Analysts, Miles’ research partner in measuring and reporting on media use by US leisure travelers
- Value of Print, research summary of independent research from Destination Analysts, Longwoods and additional partners
It’s hard to beat a lizard laden, sun shiny, ocean retreat like the Biltmore Hotel in Miami, but add in the Travel and Tourism Research Association (TTRA) conference and you’ve got my attention.
I quite enjoyed a number of the talks. Michael Rodenburgh from IPSOS Canada spoke about behavioural data and offered some fascinating tidbits about where people go to and come from during the tourism and travel customer decision journey. Passive behavioural data collection is a fabulous data collection tool and if you’re careful about obtaining explicit consent, I’m a big fan of it.
I was fascinated by a talk that Thomas Roth and David Paisley from Community Marketing and Insights gave about research with people who are LGBTQ+. Terminology seems to be in a permanent state of evolution and I never know what the most current respectful terms are. Needless to say, Tom and Dave will now be my go-to experts.
I was delighted to speak on the main stage Thursday morning about AI, chatbots, and voice search (my slides are below). I shared results from a Sklar Wilton & Associates white paper showing that the general population is fairly knowledgeable about the state of AI. AI can now write newspaper articles about anything you ask of it, AI can create humour that people actually laugh at, in some sense AI can even read your mind, and Google’s millions of dollars have allowed them to create an AI voice that is practically indistinguishable from the human voice. Of course, AI isn’t perfect and Joy Buolamwini of M.I.T.’s Media Lab has conducted research showing how facial recognition technology has trouble recognizing dark faces.
Technology for the regular folk who don’t have millions of research dollars backing us up has progressed to such a point where it is useful for customer service reps, marketers, and market researchers. Customers regularly use AI to book flights and hotels whether through chatbots on Facebook or voice assistants, we can now use AI moderators from companies like Quester to conduct surveys with anyone who has a voice assistant, and chatbots from companies like Elsient to conduct text surveys.
As fabulous as AI is, people are still unmatched for their ethics, emotions, and genuine caring for other people. This is what market researchers bring to the research table. Sure, we bring tech. Tech speeds things up and helps reduce technical errors. But people bring research results to life.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the diversity of speakers, put your hands up, they’re playing our song, 54% of speakers were women. Rock on, TTRA!
Thank you Kathy and Scott for putting on a fabulous conference. We’re off to Melbourne Australia next year!
Tourism is a vital economic driver for many cities, and with the ability to collect GPS and credit card data, CVBs and DMOs can leverage data in many new ways. Utilizing data can allow destination marketers to better understand their visitors, market to the right geographic areas, and create visitor packages that lead to longer visitor stays. Tourism analytics is an important tool for any city’s marketing programs to be successful.
There is an ongoing debate on how destinations can stay relevant to travelers. It’s a discussion often had among destination marketing organizations and partners whose roles and tactics must evolve as the travel, marketing and technology landscapes continue to disrupt tried-and-true methods of the past.
In the Relevant Destination Q&A series, we hear a variety of perspectives and pro-tips on how destinations can modernize to meet the expectations of a new age of travelers.
This week’s guests:
- Charles Harris, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Visit Anaheim
- Jeremy Harvey, Vice President of Communications & Marketing at Visit Savannah
- Maya Hua, Tourism Senior Manager at Mall of America
- Cree Lawson, Founder & CEO at Arrivalist **TTRA PARTNER MEMBER**
Sincere Thanks TTRA for hosting us at the Biltmore in Coral Gables last week. Key takeaway: Strong destination brands are vital to the long-run health of the global travel industry. Technology and globalization are eroding the unique charm that once made places worth visiting. From store fronts to Amazon Prime. From city centers to incubators. From generational cuisine to fusion. From taxis to Ubers. Local businesses and service providers make up the DNA. Opposites attract. Travelers demand variety. Stronger destination brands will give us reason to travel. Research and data rest at the epicenter of sound marketing and brand strategy. Please fund your local DMO.
Until next time. Happy 4th.
Founder, Head of Insights