Marketing the destination
When you boil down what Destination Gettysburg provides, it is marketing. We market the destination of Adams County to leisure travelers – the domestic and international families, couples and individuals who visit each year – we market to groups – those who arrive on motorcoaches, adults and students, and smaller specialty groups. We also market to meeting planners – corporate executive gatherings, board retreats, small conferences, associations and military reunions. We buy ads on radio, in print, online and on mobile platforms and engage in social media. We attend trade shows and make sales calls to tour operators and meeting planners within a 300-mile radius. We pitch stories to magazine, websites, bloggers, television shows and news reporters, and newspapers. We host familiarization visits for journalists, tour operators and group leaders, and meeting planners. We do what it takes to create an awareness of the destination and inspire new visitors to come and current visitors to return.
When looking at the typical visitor that we target, we are marketing the destination to an avid traveler living within a 300-mile radius who is between 25 and 45 years of age. Primarily, as most destinations do, we target the female decision maker, and often, the mother. How and where we do this has evolved with our annual marketing plan, integrating not only traditional media such as print and radio, but aggressively adding in digital advertising, video and social media. Our goal is to drive traffic to our website where the user will find information on our members and the events that take place throughout our county.
Marketing to Groups
Similar to marketing to leisure travelers, our efforts for the group market are very strategic. We are approaching tour operators that travel with both students and adult groups who have the tendency to visit cultural and heritage-based destinations. We highlight our agritourism and culinary assets, mixing in the history, when talking with adult groups. For the students, it is a heavy focus on the history, with a reminder of the interesting aspects of our agritourism experiences. In order to reach these audiences, we will attend industry trade shows and smaller tour operator shows that bring in group leaders. We also travel to tour operators to tell our destination story directly and invite them and their clients to visit Gettysburg for a personal tour highlighting what they can do as a group.
Marketing for Meetings and Events
Our efforts to reach the meeting planners is very similar to how we approach the group segment, only our message is different. Currently, we focus our message on leadership development, unique venues and affordability. The meetings market is an ideal way to increase both off-season and mid-week business, two areas that we are always trying to improve.
The Destination Gettysburg staff engages heavily in both traditional media relations and social media. Both are ways to tell our story, one through the words and visuals of the media; the other through our own efforts and those of our followers. It is these personal stories that reach all segments of our markets – domestic and international leisure visitors, groups and meetings. While we push stories out, we also invite media in to our world to experience and share.
It is an orchestrated effort that creates the impact of our marketing. An annual marketing plan, based on a long-term strategic plan, allows us to execute effective campaigns. The results are increased visitation, longer stays and more engaged visitors.