Missouri to spend $15 million in coronavirus funds to boost tourism

The Hill reports that Missouri plans to spend $15 million in federal coronavirus aid on promoting tourism in the state, Gov. Mike Parson (R) announced July 16.


Parson called the tourism industry “a great way to support Missouri businesses” in his press briefing, adding “With all the other things going on, it’s still important people need to get out and enjoy life a little bit.”


Tourism Director Stephen Foutes said Thursday that the money the state received through the CARES Act will be earmarked for institutions that market specific sites throughout the state to help them “maintain their marketing focus” and “include messaging on safety measures that have been implemented by their attractions,” according to the Kansas City Star.


Foutes said marketing organizations will also have the opportunity to apply to be reimbursed for the cost of safety measures like temperature checks.

Stephanie Pace Brown joins SMARInsights as Executive Vice President

Stephanie brings over 30 years of experience in the tourism industry spanning a wide variety of tourism organizations.  With experience at DMOs, attractions and both the state and local level, Stephanie understands the industry and the many facets of a successful tourism program.


“At SMARInsights our goal is to provide clients with research and information and to provide the expertise to help them apply that information.  Stephanie’s breadth and depth of experience will make her a valued asset to our clients,” said David Seiferth, President of SMARInsights.


Stephanie started her career in economic and marketing research with the Ohio Office of Tourism and Colonial Williamsburg. Data driven decisions were the foundation of her work as Vice President of Public Affairs for Mount Vernon, and as the CEO of two destination organizations – Alexandria, Virginia and Asheville, North Carolina.


Stephanie has gained a deep appreciation of the multi-faceted tourism industry and has served on the boards of the US Travel Association, Destinations International and as Chair of the Destinations International Foundation. She has assumed state leadership roles on the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Board, the North Carolina Travel and Tourism Coalition and the North Carolina Travel Industry Association. On a local level, she has recently served on the boards of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, Greater Asheville Regional Airport, and the Asheville Riverfront Redevelopment Commission.


During her most recent post as president and CEO of Explore Asheville, Stephanie led the development of Asheville as a national travel destination and guided its product development efforts. She is a passionate advocate for the power of travel to benefit communities, and for the importance of research and analytics to guide tourism promotion investments.


“I’ve worked with Stephanie since her first tourism job in Ohio and I’ve always been impressed with her ability to understand what’s happening in the industry and to be one step ahead in terms of what’s next.  It will be great to work with her on a daily basis to serve our clients,” said Denise Miller, EVP at SMARInsights.


Stephanie started work with SMARInsights on July 9th and work from the Indianapolis office.


Mammoth Lakes seeks 'new normal'

John Urdi, executive director of Mammoth Lakes Tourism, spoke to last week’s Town Council meeting, documenting the challenges facing the area, which depends on the influx of tourism dollars. One council member suggested a rebranding, which can be expensive, Urdi said, according to Sierra Wave Media. 


Read the story here.

Explore Georgia selects new director

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) June 9, 2020,announced that Mark Jaronski, a 25-year travel and tourism industry leader and veteran Disney marketing executive, will lead Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development.


Read more here.


Lifting of quarantine requirement boosting Montana tourism

Less than 24 hours after Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced the mandatory quarantine for out-of-state visitors would be lifted June 1, about 100 new reservations for the summer and fall were made at RSVP Motel on North Seventh Avenue in Bozeman.


Potential vacationers called the hotel and asked about the rules. They wanted to know what was and wasn’t allowed. So it was refreshing for Hillary Folkvord, one of RSVP’s owners, to share the new information.


“As soon as the news went out and the governor spoke,” Folkvord said, “it was crazy to see all the reservations and all these calls and inquiries.”


The 14-day quarantine for non-work-related travelers began March 30 and at the time, Bullock said travel into Montana was the state’s most common known source of COVID-19 infections. His original reopening plan called for the rule to continue during its second phase, but the governor changed course when he rolled out the details Tuesday.


While the tourism industry has undergone massive shifts in the past two months, removing the required quarantine makes travel into the state much easier for vacationers. As the summer months approach, the change allows some businesses to take a step toward recovery from the economic downturn they’ve experienced.


Read more here.

las vegas casino/hotel starts taking reservations for june

The Venetian Resort in Las Vegas is taking reservations for stays starting June 1.

That's the day Las Vegas Sands Corp. expects to open its luxury resort for the first time since COVID-19 shut down the Strip. 

The company plans to open its two properties in phases: First the Venetian tower – and then the Palazzo tower at a later date.

Las Vegas Sands has required COVID-19 testing for all employees, Venetian Vice President of Public Relations Alyssa Anderson said. 

While the company anticipates opening on June 1, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has not ruled out reinstating stricter virus-prevention measures if there’s a spike in new COVID-19 cases or hospitalizations.

Read more here.



A rural/urban divide has emerged amid the push to reopen the economy, and Illinois is a good example.

In rural areas of the Midwest state, families working hard to get their prized animals ready for county fairs say the state needs to consider the few COVID-19 cases in their county.

Sheridan Hank, who has been showing cattle for 12 years, said the fairs are her family's livelihood. She says the fairs can be modified to accommodate for social distancing guidelines.

"At the county and state fair, it'd be all outside exhibits, so we wouldn’t be all packed together, we’d be outside."

"The state fair is a big, big deal," she said. Besides recognition for their work, the fairs gives kids an opportunity to connect across the agriculture industry.

But it's also bringing dollars into rural communities. A study by the University Illinois Extension found that fairs statewide generate more than $170 million a year in spending.


Read more here.

North Lake Tahoe uses SMARInsights' research to better understand visitors and markets

North Lake Tahoe continues to expand its global resonance by investing in key international markets, partnering with statewide tourism entities, the Regional Air Service Corporation (RASC) and major ski resorts and hotel properties to increase tourism in 2018-19.


In the 2017-18 fiscal year, North Lake Tahoe’s paid marketing campaign influenced $154 million in incremental visitor spending for a return on investment of $182 for every $1 spent on paid media. Earned media garnered 37.3 million impressions, with an increase of $6.78 million in dollar impact. Internationally, the region saw a 19.7 percent increase in visitor spending from 2016 to 2017.


Read more here.

'Soundtrack of America' brand returns higher results for Tennessee Tourism, report shows

Tennessee’s value for the investment made in promoting the state’s “The Soundtrack of America. Made in Tennessee” tourism brand increased in the latest study commissioned by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

Read more here.

Top-performing ads help Colorado break tourism record with 77.7 million visitors

Colorado's “Come to Life” advertising campaign continues to rank as one of the top performing state marketing efforts in the country. Strategic Marketing & Research Insights showed the print, television, radio and online marketing drove 2.6 million additional visits to the state, creating a total impact of $3.5 billion. Read more here.

Great Britain's referendum to leave the European Union will also affect tourism

Great Britain's referendum to leave the European Union will in the long term also affect tourism - both in the UK and in the Brits' favorite European holiday regions.


The world's biggest tour operator, Tui, does not expect Brits in future to be spending their holiday at home. However, should the pound lose value in the long term, their buying power might be restricted, making shopping on holiday more expensive, says Tui managing director Fritz Joussen. "But it's doubtful that it will curb the Brits very developed love of travel," Joussen adds.


Should the Brits have to watch their spending then this will be felt most in the travel sector in the Balearics, the Canary Islands, Greece, Turkey and the Caribbean, as those are the Brits favorite holiday destinations, according to Tui.


Great Britain is one of the tour operator's most important markets. In the last fiscal year, it accounted for one third of the company's turnover - about on a par with Germany.


Read more here.

Research shows tourists like to travel to "happy places"

In the middle of winter, just as we’re all thinking about a holiday, Swinburne researchers have revealed a nation’s perceived happiness can be an asset that attracts tourists.


Finance lecturer Dr Reza Tajaddini and Economics lecturers Dr Hassan F Gholipour and Dr Jeremy Nguyen, say their research was the first to propose that tourists may travel to sites of greater ‘happiness’ and to investigate the relationship between happiness and inbound tourism.


The researchers say their work has implications for tourism marketing and shows the benefit of emphasising the happiness characteristics of destinations, alongside traditional cultural and heritage attractions.


Read the rest of the story here.

Research helped Idaho Tourism choose ad campaign that focused on families

Screaming children jump off a wooden dock into the lake. A family of four speeds down a mountain trail on bicycles. Children and teenagers hang-glide, ride horses through a meadow, zipline over the high desert and scream on a roller coaster alongside their friends or siblings.


The vignettes end with a woman’s voice, “We’ve done more in six hours than we’ve done in six months.”


Several commercials like this have played during the past six weeks, urging parents to make all 18 summers with their children count. At the end, a web address — — flashes across the screen.


When that commercial runs, multi-taskers pull up the website on their smartphones, leaving a data point that tells Idaho tourism chief Diane Norton something important: Potential tourists were intrigued by the latest Visit Idaho advertising campaign. With luck, they will book a reservation.


Read more here.

Tennessee Tourism to broadcast live concerts on large outdoor screen in Chicago

The Tennessee Department of Tourist Development is sponsoring a live-streamed concert series that will be simulcast in Chicago.


Performances from Citizen Cope, Jason Isbell and Old Crow Medicine Show, and Ashley Monroe in Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville on May 23 - 25 will be streamed onto a two-sided video wall in a high-traffic location in Chicago. The “Soundtrack of America: Made in Tennessee” concert will feature interactive capabilities between artist and audience as well as a 360-degree panoramic camera angle, making it the first long-distance concert of its kind, according to the tourism agency.


The tourism campaign aims to highlight and introduce music that is born and fostered within the state. Read more here.

Study finds tourists choose to post photos online that represent their 'ideal self'

The development of digital photography and communication technology has transformed the relationship between traveller and audience; even while travelling, tourists are aware of a potentially wide audience for their photographs and want to present themselves in the best light possible.


Tourists deciding what photographs to take and share with others are engaging in impression management involving the presentation of an “ideal self”, according to Dr Iris Lo, a Ph.D. graduate of the School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University who was supervised by Professor Bob McKercher of the SHTM.


In a recently published study, researchers highlight the role of social media in changing the nature of travel, as tourists increasingly post their photos online to be viewed and commented on by broad audiences.


Read more here.

Experience shows tourism can bounce back fast after tragedies such as the Brussels attack

Experience shows countries can bounce back fast, even if travel and tourism declines in the immediate aftermath, and business and consumer confidence suffers a temporary knock. Read more analysis here.

Tenn. governor announces strong return on investment numbers for state's tourism marketing

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Governor Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Triplett, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, today announced the powerful results of a return on investment study, the first since launching the “Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee” brand campaign, during a special event at Tennessee Hospitality & Tourism Association’s Day on the Hill. 


The new brand campaign was launched approximately 18 months ago. Research conducted from a third party, Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, indicates an 18-to-1 ROI. This shows Tennessee is collecting 18 tax dollars for every 1 dollar spent on advertising for the new campaign. The national benchmark used by SMARInsights for tax revenue collected is 9 tax dollars for every 1 dollar. 


“The SMARInsights Report confirms two important facts,” Triplett said. “The brand campaign messaging ‘The Soundtrack of America, Made in Tennessee’ is inspiring vacationers to choose our state and Tennessee taxpayers are reaping the benefit of tourism’s success with an 18:1 return on investment.”


SMARInsights Executive Vice President Denise Miller said, “Our company measures marketing effectiveness for destinations across the country, and the Tennessee Tourism campaign performed extremely well, and significantly better than what we typically see for destinations. Tennessee Tourism combined strong creative with an effective media plan to influence significant travel to the state – and this is travel that would not have occurred without the advertising.  Tennessee achieved a strong return on investment, and the results were especially impressive given that this is a relatively new advertising campaign.”


Read the entire story here or here.

U.S., British universities team up to examine effects of gun violence on travel from the UK

Kansas State University and the University of Chester will partner on research to determine whether reports of gun violence in the United States have an effect on the likelihood of travel among residents of the United Kingdom. Other factors also would be considered. Read more here.

Wyoming Tourism numbers surge to record levels, generating tax revenue and job growth

Wyoming's tourism economy saw another year of tremendous growth in 2015. In a preliminary assessment released Thursday (Feb. 4) by the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT), a record 10.5 million people visited the state in 2015, up from 10.1 million visitors in 2014 or 4.2 percent. Strategic Marketing & Research Insights is a research partner with the Wyoming Office of Tourism through 2019. Read more about Wyoming Tourism here.

Focus on advertising in the Chicago area pays off for Hamilton County Tourism in visitor spending

Research conducted by Strategic Marketing & Research Insights showed Hamilton County (Ind.) Tourism's strategy of running only fall advertising in the Chicago area returned $156 in visitor spending for each $1 invested in marketing. Read more here in the Indianapolis Business Journal. (A subscription might be required)

Senate bill would require travel websites to pay innkeepers tax, just as hotels already do.

Travel websites such as Travelocity and Expedia would face higher taxes under a proposal pending before Indiana lawmakers, according to a story on Senate Bill 309, introduced by Sen. Brandt Hershman, would require those companies to pay sales and innkeeper’s taxes in Indiana. Read the story here.

Mobile ad blocking crisis doesn't seem as bad as some analysts have predicted

Ad blocking is certainly a threat to web publishers and companies that are paying for ads to appear on the myriad mobile devices we use. Many people panicked when Apple allowed ad blockers to appear in the App Store. But some say the mobile threat has not materialized. The Wall Street Journal has more here.

Virtual Reality devices seen as a tool for travelers to choose their destinations

Virtual Reality devices are all the rage - and tourism might be an industry that could benefit from the new devices. Read more here.

SMARInsights measures spending impact for Monterey visitors bureau

Monterey, California -  Spending by the county tourism bureau equaled $127 million in tourist cash last fiscal year, a new report shows. Read more here.

Colorado tourism numbers set record in 2014

A record 71.3 million visitors spent $18.6 billion in Colorado in 2014, marking a high point for the state's thriving tourism industry. Strategic Marketing & Research Insights also polled travelers whether marijuana played a role in their decision to possibly take a vacation in the state. Read more here.

Study reveals impact of advertising efforts

The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism recently released a report showing their marketing efforts accounted for some $270 M of economic impact for the state. Read more here