In August 2016 issue of our sister publication SpaceCoast Business, we spoke with Eric Garvey, the executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism. That agency was in the starting blocks of a massive new marketing program for Visit Space Coast. While the agency used social media platforms before, Garvey’s trip to California with the Orlando Tourist Board opened his eyes to new possibilities. As we wrote back then, Garvey said there were “new initiatives (that) seemed a perfect fit for what we (were) trying to accomplish.”
SCL: Eric, can you bring our readers up to date on your social
ERIC: Through the remainder of 2016 to this point in 2017, the agency has invested more than $1 million in targeting its message using the research provided by Facebook and Instagram. About a year ago, we contracted with an official Facebook marketing partner to deliver our ads. We’ve been very impressed with how that worked.
SCL: How did your social media change?
ERIC: The ads are more relevant. They deliver more. They cost less. They deliver higher click-through rates and video views. We’ve also been shifting a ton of our advertising through Facebook to video. It’s a very popular medium, so we continue to go that way.
SCL: Besides social media, what keeps the TDC busy?
ERIC: Another cool thing is that we started a partnership with Florida Tech to do ongoing economic impact analysis of our tourism businesses. A big component of that is visitor information. Collecting this information is typically done through visitor surveys but that is very difficult because of low participation rates. So, instead we pull collected credit card data into our Facebook platform and target our ads inviting people to take a survey through Facebook once they’re back home. After their trip’s over, within two weeks they’ll receive a series of ads encouraging them to tell us about how they liked their trip to the Space Coast. We’re running 10 to 1 survey completions with Facebook compared to our previous efforts.
It’s tempting to just throw everything onto the social media platforms, but I want to be careful about leaving behind things that have worked in the past. We’ll still run the more traditional surveys. The cost to doing those is next to nothing, we’re just having points of contact within the hotels say, ‘Tell us how you liked your stay.’ It’s not costing us anything.
SCL: So, this effort sounds like it will become an ongoing project.
ERIC: We’re going to increase our budget for spending on the Facebook and Instagram platforms by 50 percent. We’ve heard great feedback on this program, so the increase is justified. We’ve begun to offer local businesses and events access to our platform. With all the targeting that we’ve now loaded into our platform, businesses are blown away by the results we get running their businesses through our platform.
SCL: Has the message changed with the delivery?
ERIC: Yes! The content itself must be attractive or the delivery fails to generate a response. Our creative team is doing a phenomenal job with the messaging; the digital message itself and using the targets to design for that target audience. In fact, we just received notification that one of our websites has received a gold ADDY (American Advertising Awards) for the region, and is now up for a national award. Our team is doing an excellent job with the creative.
It is truly an exciting time to Live Big on the Space Coast. If you’re not convinced of that yet, Garvey and his team at Visit Space Coast will make sure your social media outlets tell you so.