Hopefully, at this point you have read our Summer Case Study for Visit Beaufort. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, the quick recap is that through collaboration, strategic and innovative ideas, and creative thinking, Visit Beaufort was able to bounce back to fairly steady occupancy for summer 2020.

While that was great, the real question was how we were going to continue this success into fall and winter. During that time, COVID-19 cases were rising and vaccines were very slowly being rolled out. People were barely traveling. It was essential that we continued to stay in front of potential travelers, whether they were dreaming about a vacation or already planning a trip.

Our digital marketing tactics remained the same from summer to fall/winter, but our messaging and targeting continued to evolve. Within our dreaming phase tactics, we continued to use video deployment through YouTube, however we adjusted targeting from leisure to remessaging now that we had built up a large audience through paid search. We began to reach past visitors through database targeting on social channels—asking engaging poll questions like “Are you traveling within 2-3 months or 4-5 months?” and “Would you prefer a Beach House or a Historic Inn?” and “Are you traveling with family or couple?” Not only did this social strategy engage with Visit Beaufort’s audience, it also provided valuable data for future messaging. For the booking stage of travel, we adjusted our paid search and ad copy to promote fall/winter travel and longer stays.

In order to make these optimizations, Advance Travel and Visit Beaufort collaborated on a regular basis—sharing snippets of campaign results and layering that with knowledge of travel trends and sentiment. We collectively reviewed comprehensive monthly reporting to find stand out data points to optimize the campaign. We looked much deeper than just impressions and CTR. We discussed cost per conversion, cost per engagement, time on site, second page destinations, market fluctuations in conversions, 10 different types of conversions each with different values, and so much more. Success in travel marketing campaigns does not come from one single metric—it comes from a collection of data and a deep understanding of online behavior. The partnership and campaign have evolved over the past year, and continues to evolve today. The campaign insights are always evolving and shaping our next steps—a true data driven strategy.

Key Campaign Objectives

Drive high level awareness within short drive markets

Entice potential travelers to visit Visit Beaufort’s partner websites

Tactics

Behaviorally targeted digital display

Video Marketing

SEM & Remarketing

Social Media Marketing

Results

• 2.7 Million Digital Ads Seen by Potential Travelers

• 200,000 Completed Video Views within YouTube and Social

• Over 25,000 direct Website Sessions with 27% being return visitors

Users that visited the website directly from the campaign created a 24% Conversions Rate.

Paid Search site traffic had a Conversion Rate 6% higher than Organic site traffic at 40%.

Direct traffic from this campaign made up over 26% of website conversions with 16% of the total direct click conversions consisted of Outbound Partner Hotel Clicks and Booking Engine clicks, and over 5% were website form fills for Visitor Guide and Newsletter.

(Conversions include Booking Engine Click, Outbound Partner Hotel Click, VG Requests, Lodging Pageview, Restaurants Pageview, and Things to do Pageview, Events Pageview, 1+ Minutes on site, 2+ pages viewed.)

The marketing during this time was designed to maintain occupancy through a difficult fall/winter, as well as begin messaging potential travelers on spring/summer travel. From October 2020-February 2021, Visit Beaufort maintained hotel occupancy rates about 2% higher than the state of South Carolina, and 3% higher than the U.S average. The marketing campaign also positively affected spring travelers to Beaufort. April 2021 compared to April 2020 Hotel Occupancy was up 147%, and Vacation Rental Occupancy was up 91%.

On average targeted markets were up 18% sitewide, with over an 8% increase in Booking Engine Referrals YOY.

If you want to learn more about our partnership with Visit Beaufort, Port Royal – Sea Islands or any others, connect with us here. We would be happy to talk more about how a strategic and thoughtful digital marketing campaign with us can directly influence your visitation.