Destination marketing: Higher taxes are no way to treat a guest.

August 17, 2012

Are travel taxes taking too big a bite out of your guests’ wallets?

A study by the U.S. Travel Association has raised new concerns that high travel taxes are affecting travel habits. 

Is it time to re-think your attitude on travel taxes?

In an era of declining tax revenues, travelers are considered an easy target by local, county and state governments.

But according to Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, public officials need to think of travelers as important contributors to local businesses and jobs.

According to Dow,”Few public officials understand how rising travel taxes influence consumer behavior and impact the economy.”

To help, the USTA announced a study of consumer attitudes by its  Travel Tax Institute.

The research reveals that taxation has a clear impact on travel planning and spending decisions. Among the key findings:

  • High Taxes Alter Travel Plans: 49% of travelers say that high travel taxes have caused them to stay at less expensive hotels, spend less on shopping and entertainment, and visit during the off-season.
  • Taxes on Hotels, Airfare High: 68% of travelers rated hotel taxes as “very high” (35%) or “high” (33%); 66% rated taxes on airfare as “very high” (38%) or “high” (28%).
  • Rental Car Taxes Much Too High: Nearly two out of three travelers surveyed (64%) say that the total tax rate on rental cars is “much more” than they expected to pay.
  • Travelers See Taxes Rising: Nearly two-thirds (65%) say they expect to pay higher travel taxes in the year ahead; only two percent believe taxes will decrease.
  • Travel Taxes Should Fund Travel Infrastructure: 60% of travelers said travel taxes should be reinvested in travel infrastructure, such as roads and airports.

Another 49% said “travel/tourism marketing and promotion” also would be an appropriate use of the revenues.

Only 14% cited “non-travel related expenditures” such as “contributions to government general funds” as an “appropriate” use of travel taxes

What do you think? Are high travel taxes affecting your guest’s decisions?

What are you doing about it? We’d love to hear your take on this important issue.

Travel marketing: Why your CVB should fund arts organizations.

July 3, 2012

The Foothills Art Center attracts thousands of visitors to Golden, CO.

To many tourism marketing professionals, the value local arts organizations bring to your destinations seems obvious.

They give your visitors something to do besides eat and shop.  They can also give your destination a real point of difference.

If that’s the case, why do so many CVBs and tourism boards refuse to put their money where their mouths are, and support local arts organizations with their budget allocations?

It comes down to money. Many CVBs and tourism boards are stretched thin, and arts organizations are an easy mark.

Because they can’t always demonstrate how they’ve driven incremental dollars or visitors to their destinations.

For years, that was the case with arts organizations in Florida’s Polk County .

But recently the Polk County Tourist Development Council voted to funnel 15% of tourism tax money towards arts organizations, for a total of $410,000 during the current fiscal year.

It appears that Polk County officials finally got the message that visitors don’t just come for shopping, dining and attractions. But it didn’t happen by chance.

Last year, the Polk County Arts Alliance, a non-profit coalition of 40 local arts organizations led a push to restore funding. The group cited 6 other Florida counties that have a similar ordinance.

But the group installed a plan to make the arts organizations more accountable to their charter.

They now offer reimbursements to arts groups that can demonstrate their events bring tourists to the area.

They also require arts groups to provide a metric they can use to measure the economic effect their organization is having on tourism spending.

The Polk County measure is something every tourism marketing professional can learn from.

It’s a way to keep our local arts communities vibrant for visitors and locals. And accountable for doing their part to bring in incremental visits.

What role do the arts play in your marketing plan? What’s working and not working with that plan? Share your experience with us.

Travel Marketing: How Universal Orlando used marketing magic to put a spell on Muggles.

July 8, 2010

Universal pulled out all the stops to market Harry Potter to America.

In the months leading up to the  opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal created a TV documentary, Super Bowl ad, augmented reality site, You Tube video, and more.


Universal turned its cameras on itself.

Months before the park opened,  Universal created a “Making Of” documentary devoted to making an emotional connection in people’s minds between the beloved movies and the new theme park.

TV campaign aired on the Super Bowl.

At about the same time, Universal launched a brand campaign that linked Harry Potter with other park stars such as Spider-Man and Shrek. One of the spots aired on the 2010 Super Bowl.

Web strategy included augmented reality site.

To generate internet chatter in the weeks leading up to the opening, Universal invited media outlets to tour the facilities.

They allowed the media to film and post You Tube videos of their tours. Some of my favorites were done by Orlando’s Attractions magazine.

To give people a sense of what the park would feel like long before it was finished, the studio created a special website with an augmented reality feature.

Repurposing content for You Tube.

As the date grew closer, Universal rebroadcast its Super Bowl TV spot on Attractions magazine’s You Tube Channel, and as of today, has generated over 127,000 views.

To keep the buzz going, Universal posted clips of the TV documentary on its website and You Tube, complete with interviews with the stars of the movie.

Final blitz  featured online and social.

In the weeks leading up to the opening, Universal invited media outlets to tour the facilities and allowed them to film and post their own You Tube videos of their tour.

Instead of doing a corporate social media plan, they let loyal Harry Potter fans create their own facebook pages to discuss the event.

Universal pulled out all the stops on this launch, took some daring risks, and has built a monument to magic that’s going to keep people whistling with delight for years.


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