Accountability has permeated all types of marketing, including the state tourism sector.
Case in point: the state of Michigan, which this year upped its tourism promotion budget by 33% versus 2007 to $17.5 million, in no small part as a result of an independent study that demonstrated the significant financial returns being realized from such marketing.
The study, commissioned by Travel Michigan, the state's official tourism marketing office, was conducted by Longwoods International, a research firm specializing in tourism advertising ROI.
After evaluating the impact of Travel Michigan's advertising campaigns between 2004 and 2007, Longwoods found that the $20 million in advertising spent during the four years in Chicago, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, and Ontario, Canada attracted more than 3.8 million visitors who would not otherwise have traveled to Michigan. These tourists spent more than $800 million statewide at Michigan businesses, resulting in an additional $56.4 million in new tax dollars for the state treasury.
Bottom line: For each dollar spent on advertising in out-of-state markets, $2.82 came back to the state in the form of new tax revenue.
Travel Michigan is already putting those extra bucks to good use, by expanding the peak summer-season market reach of its "Pure Michigan"-themed TV and radio commercials. "With the additional promotional dollars, we are enhancing the Pure Michigan presence in our key markets [which also include Toledo, Ohio; Ft. Wayne and South Bend, Ind; and Green Bay, Wis.] and expanding the campaign into Columbus, Dayton and St. Louis for the first time," reports George Zimmermann, vice president for Travel Michigan, a business unit of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
The beefed-up seasonal push began with out-of-state advertising starting May 5 and in-state advertising starting May 12.
In addition to TV and radio, the Pure Michigan advertising campaign touts the state's natural resources, recreational activities and cultural attractions through outdoor boards, public relations programs and the michigan.org Web site.
"The campaign communicates what is magic, unspoiled, timeless and true about the state," sums up Zimmermann. Examples include spots focusing on the state's clean lakes, rivers and other recreational water resources; numerous scenic walking and hiking trails; and the general opportunities for outdoor adventure in Michigan's "19 million-acre playground."
Pure Michigan has received awards and generated unprecedented interest since its launch in 2006, and helped to make michigan.org the nation's number one state tourism Web site last year.
Tourism contributes $18.8 billion annually to Michigan's economy. It accounts for 200,000 jobs and generates $1.1 billion in state tax revenues.