How This Local Visitors Bureau Extended Its Tourist Season

After spending 10 days on the beautiful Pacific coast of Costa Rica soaking up the sun and slurping down piña coladas, my husband and I may have contemplated quitting our jobs to start up a catamaran sunset cruise business … Working in the tourism industry sounds pretty glamorous. After all you get to spend your days dreaming about vacation, right?

The other wonderful thing for those in the tourism industry is that more and more people are researching and planning their trips online. In fact, 69% of travelers start their search online. Over 148 million people use the internet to make reservations for tours and activities, accounting for 57% of all travel reservations each year.

The statistics also make it clear that search engines and social media are platforms where tourist marketers need to be. In fact, 80% of travel marketers consider SEM to be the most effective platform for producing bookings. Social media has a place in the tourism marketing game as well, with over 1 million travel-related hashtags being searched for on a weekly basis, it is clear the tourists are using platforms like Instagram and Facebook for travel inspiration.

an Instagram post from the Johnston County Visitors Bureau

But, of course, it’s not all inspiring pictures and piña coladas on the beach.

The challenges of tourism marketing

Being in an industry that is so popular, with such high demands for content, takes constant attention to detail to not only reach people during their searches but also encourage them to book that trip.

Ashby Brame, the marketing director of the Johnston County Visitors Bureau, has felt the pains of having limited bandwidth in her hectic job. “The tourism industry is a great, fun industry,” she says. “Sure, we have competitors in the sense that people can go or stop anywhere and we want them to come here, but I think the tourism industry is a really good industry for having a collective understanding that a rising tide floats all boats.”

Johnston County Visitors Bureau Marketing Director Ashby Brame

Located in close proximity to the well-known city of Raleigh, North Carolina, Johnston County offers visitors tours of museums like the Ava Gardner Museum and Tobacco Farm Life Museum, culinary tours involving beer, wine, and farm-to-table treats, and all sorts of unique festivals and events. Marketing a popular location and great offerings, of course, takes time—a lot of it!

That means time to devote to important advertising matters, like Google Ads, is limited.

“In the past, our Google account was something we would set and forget,” says Ashby. “When we set it up a few years back, we rarely checked in. Google was a lot simpler back then, and you could get away with that.”

Ashby and her team found that to no longer be the case, but the problem was that her team did not have the time to dedicate to completely re-hauling their current account. Ashby also knew they could not just cut out Google Ads completely, which led her to WordStream Advisor.

Time saving and personalized help with WordStream Advisor

With so many responsibilities, tools to help Ashby better optimize her time management are absolutely critical to see results in her role, especially when it comes to running campaigns through complicated advertising platforms like Google Ads.

“I don’t have time to learn Google Ads!” says Ashby. “With WordStream I can log in, see campaigns running, see my Quality Scores, money spent, and money made for each campaign, and that is all I care about.”

Ashby found that once her campaigns were being managed with the help of WordStream Advisor, she no longer needed to spend so much time hunting through Google Ads to ensure she was not wasting money. “The WordStream Advisor interface is simple and easy to understand,” Ashby said. “I can go in for 10% of the time, and let the software handle the 90%.”

a Google Ads for the Johnston County Visitors Bureau

That’s a great looking Google Ad if I do say so myself.

And the software is just part of it. One other area that Ashby found to be the most value is the support from her dedicated WordStream PPC expert. “Our Customer Success rep helps me organize our chaos of an account, and it is now manageable,” says Ashby.

Ashby has found this aspect of personalized service to be insanely valuable for restructuring, advice, and any emergency situations. She feels as if she has a safety net (and a smart one at that!) to always fall back in. “In the event all fails me, I can always email our CSS and say, ‘HELP ME’!”

Having this personalized help also helped Ashby and her team learn about the impact of Google Ads performance on their business—as well as how to make that happen. “We used to think, okay, we’re terrible at this clearly, but if we keep putting money into it maybe that will make it better,” says Ashby. “More money equals more clicks, right?”

Wrong. Luckily, switching to WordStream Advisor has allowed Ashby to better allocate her budget in a more strategic way that allows her to actually spend less and see better results.

“There are other ways to manipulate the account to get more clicks with fewer dollars,” says Ashby. “We can now find things in the account to ensure the money we do have to spend is spent wisely.”

Ashby knew quite quickly after switching the WordStream Advisor that her money was not being wasted. “Our customer success specialist emailed us a report that showed our month over month (MoM) cost per action (CPA) is down! We’re getting more out of the dollar amount than we ever have before,” says Ashby.

Extending Johnston County’s tourist season

With more effective spending on PPC and social, Ashby has found that not only are her results looking better in terms of budgeting, but tourism is continuing to increase.

“We used to see more of a bell curve, where in winter months we would see a dip in visitors, and in March, April, May, things would begin to pick up again, with summer and fall being the peak time for tourism,” says Ashby, “ Now, we don’t have a quiet period anymore. It’s pretty much just up across the board.”

a Facebook ad for the Johnston County Visitors Bureau

Personality, community, and food? Great Facebook ad.

It is clear that Ashby’s team is killing their ad game since they have had to spend less time with tedious tasks such as restructuring campaigns, going through loads of data to search for negative keywords, and many of the other time-consuming tasks that WordStream helps with. And extending the tourist season to keep growing other businesses in Johnston County? Now, that’s a success story.


Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

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