There's Still More to Explore

April is when the season starts. I don’t mean major league baseball; instead it’s the season when states and cities gear up for the spring and summer travel markets and launch their freshly minted marketing campaigns—including Minnesota.

“There’s a bright outlook for the travel business this summer,” said John Edmond, director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, upon the release of its new campaign. “Consumers are eager to get out and travel more, and the new ads position Minnesota as a destination that offers what they’re looking for.”

There’s More to Explore
Earlier this month, Explore Minnesota launched its spring/summer campaign that builds on its “More to Explore” theme introduced two years ago, and promotes fun Minnesota travel activities. Watch for “More to Catch,” “More to Spin,” “More to Rock,” and other variations throughout the season.

Market research shows that families search for outdoor adventures as well as spontaneous getaways, while travelers who prefer vibrant cities are looking for cultural attractions and entertainment. The television ads use visual imagery, without spoken words, to capture those ideas. They will run through July in the Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, Des Moines, Winnipeg, and Twin Cities markets.

A study of last year’s ad campaign showed that for every dollar invested in marketing Minnesota, $84 are spent by travelers—a good return on investment that contributes to Minnesota’s economy. Tourism is an $11.9 billion industry in Minnesota, which employs almost 240,000 residents. Here’s a look at a few other tourism marketing initiatives across the country:

What Makes Colorado Colorado?
Rather than simply hiring a branding firm to help market the state, Colorado is instead reaching out to other state agencies and residents to form the state’s “place brand” in an initiative they are calling Making Colorado. According to organizers, the effort’s goals are to capture the “energy and spirit” of the state, unite statewide programs and showcase Colorado to the world. For the next five months, all Coloradans will be able to submit their thoughts and creative ideas at the Making Colorado web site. A team composed of creative talent, including designers, editors, and technologists, will sift through entries and create a final brand. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will reveal the results of the statewide collaboration in August, at the Colorado Innovation Network Summit.

Fields of Dreams
One of the joys of summertime in the Midwest is America’s game of baseball. This season, the Iowa Tourism Office is promoting the experience of taking the family to the minor league ballpark. Minor League baseball has been alive and well in Iowa since the 1890s. The five Iowa teams have launched the careers of all-stars, World Series champions, and hall of famers. “A night at the ballpark can bring families and friends closer together with affordable entertainment and fun in cozy, fan-friendly ballparks,” says Shawna Lode, manager of the Iowa Tourism Office. “You can actually talk to the players, get their autographs, and sit so close to the action, you could call balls and strikes.” The teams located in Iowa: Burlington Bees, a farm club of the Oakland A’s; the Quad City River Bandits, a Class A affiliate of the Houston Astros (whose ballpark in Davenport includes new attractions, including a Ferris Wheel and a 300-foot zip line that will run from behind first base to just outside the left field corner of the park); the Clinton Lumberkings; the Cedar Rapids Kernels, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins; and the Iowa Cubs, a Triple A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Tourism in Iowa generates more than $7 billion in expenditures.

Travel Oregon
The Oregon Tourism Commission, Travel Oregon, has enhanced its website to foster partnerships and collaboration to help support the state’s $8.8 billion travel and tourism industry. The commission’s redesigned website includes ways that businesses can work together to market the state. In a featured video, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber also calls out how international travel has grown by 13 percent over 2011, and how the industry supports the area’s companies like Intel and Nike.

Philadelphia Neighborhoods
The Greater Philadelphia Tourism Corporation launched a new campaign this month that spotlights 14 “visitor-ready” neighborhoods surrounding the city. “Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own distinct personality and attractions from museums and music to restaurants and historical venues, not to mention shopping,” says Mayor Michael Nutter. The campaign uses the tourism association’s website, social media, and other public relations to stress the neighborhood message. The neighborhoods section of the website helps visitors plan their trips to any of the 14 featured communities. Some of the attractions highlighted include intimate music venues, emerging art galleries, independent shops, and city parks.

Visitors Are The Stars
The Idaho Department of Commerce Division of Tourism has launched its spring/summer campaign called My ID, a continuation of a program that began last year. The destination management organization teamed up with PixFusion to allow visitors to place themselves, family, and friends in any one of seven Idaho online adventure videos. Four of them are currently online, with the remaining to appear in the coming weeks: The Adventurers, a super hero on an Idaho vacation; Agent 208, a mystery spy adventure; Are We There Yet? A family RV trip through the state; and Adventures in Loving, romance that’s alive and well.