The North Dakota Department of Commerce hosted the annual Tourism Industry Marketing Summit on Oct. 26., bringing together more than 100 tourism professionals from across the state in a day filled with professional development, industry meetings and a report on 2021 marketing efforts.
Commerce Tourism and Marketing utilized $6.5 million of CARES Act funds to expand marketing, inspire visits and raise awareness of North Dakota.
Rather than a limited run of advertising in early summer, campaigns including television, billboard, transit wraps, print, digital, social, and email started earlier and will run through mid-December. The regional advertising push was also expanded to include niche campaigns in specific markets and with targeted travelers. The CARES Act also allowed funds for expanded influencer cooperative opportunities and a Legendary Road Trips partnership with iHeartMedia that resulted in 7.2 million impressions through on-air and social media. As a result, interest in North Dakota and intent to travel have surged.
“Summit attendees reported excellent results from the expanded marketing, including cooperative programs that offered in-state advertising and promotions,” Commerce Tourism and Marketing Director Sara Otte Coleman said. “Many events and attractions in the state have noted that 2021 has been a record year for attendance.”
Advertising reached more than 167 million impressions, driving a 23% increase in website visits and more tracked arrivals to the state than any other year recorded. In expanded markets, such as Denver and Arizona, website traffic from both locations saw significant increases in visits; with Arizona up 385%. The North Dakota Tourism consumer newsletter subscriptions also went up 12.3% with a remarkable 39.5% open rate, more than double the industry average.
In preparation for the U.S. border re-opening to Canadian recreational travelers, Tourism and Marketing is intensifying advertising and marketing efforts. Additional digital advertising started on Oct. 4, and new billboard, bus, social media and newspaper advertising will begin running Nov. 1. To date, North Dakota has lost more than 672,000 trips from Canada, which amounts to an approximate lost visitor spending of $197 million.