July through September was an interesting - and exciting - time in the destination marketing world. This is a time that traditionally, from a visitation standpoint, looks a little like a roller coaster of high visitation in July with families, a bit of a dip in August and then a September rebound of our empty-nesters and couples getaways. This is all before we see the burst of October travel. Even with terrible rain and heat in August, we still saw an increase in lodging demand of 4.7% over August 2017 and we are up 5.6% in room demand year to date.
What tactics did we take to help drive traffic? We start with the large funnel and collect the visitors through our content and display campaign on TripAdvisor. In addition, we placed print ads in AAA World, Recreation News, Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Women's Day; print also included South Jersey Magazine, Whirl, Pittsburgh Magazine, Philadelphia Magazine and Baltimore Magazine. We placed inspirational messaging on radio through Maryland NPR and iHeart Radio. In our key markets, we ran short spots during the morning television news through our relationship with the US Traffic Network. We also invested in a digital campaign with our partner, Essex Digital Platforms, targeting families who are interested in historical and cultural travel, outdoor recreation and foodie adventures.
All of these efforts, pulled together through a specific collection of images and messages drives visitors to our website, app and blog. Along the way, we engage our visitors and potential visitors through our social media, filled with inspiring road tripping videos, beautiful images, list blogs, upcoming events and more. This is a daily engagement activity that helps highlight all the granular details of the destination. This is all topped off with our monthly consumer newsletter delivered to over 72,000 subscribers.
Two of our newest programs in 2018 have not only allowed us to drive traffic to our owned content, but also provide tracking data to show our ROI.
The first program, our Expedia campaign, kicked off August 20. During that time, our display campaign resulted in a click-through rate of .11%. Through that date, our $10,000 investment resulted in $99,914 in bookings (722 room nights) through the Expedia website resulting in a $138 ADR. The majority of bookings (75.1%) were multiple adults staying for one night (54.1%) or two nights (34.6%). Their travel window ranged from 35.3% traveling within 6 days of the booking to 5.2% traveling in more than 91 days. The top three windows were the 0-6 days, 31-60 days (19.2%) and 7-13 days (13.6%). These results and the data provided offer a deeper insight into our efforts.
This same tracking trend is extended with our Essex Location Tracking. The program currently tracks 284 locations in and around Gettysburg. The initial report shows tracking from July 26-Sept 16. During that time, 12,495 people visited that were exposed to one of our ads prior to their visit. Our Visit rate is 40.6%, which means that those exposed to our ad messaging were 40.6% more likely to visit than the control group who did not see our ads. The majority of our travelers visited within 2-3 weeks of being exposed to our ads. Mobile web (cell phones) reached the majority of our visitors. In looking at the average cost to attract these visitors, the cost of acquisition was only $2.27.
In addition, Destination Gettysburg promotes the Adams County Pour Tour as a secondary driver of visitation. This not only offers a reason for new visitors to travel to the area, but also a new experience for our existing visitors - and locals - to engage in our craft beverage scene, extending their stays and providing yet another reason to return.
It is these efforts and the data we collect that are the basis of our plans moving forward. As we begin to look at 2019, it is with great excitement that we have additional data to help support our recommendations and the final decisions of the board of directors.
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