Using ZDOS™ To Cook Up an Award-Winning Ad Campaign

When Visit Lake Charles rolled out their culinary travel campaign to attract Austin travelers to their destination, it was a truly integrated affair. Eye-catching ads wrapped around Uber and Lyft vehicles, an Instagram influencer shared views of brilliant sunsets, and digital ads directed hungry travelers to a gourmet inspiration guide.

But behind the scenes of this visually stunning execution lay a deeper integration — one that drew on visitor insights from the Zartico Destination Operating System® to create a data-led campaign that actually delivered new visitors.

It also landed the visionary marketing team at Visit Lake Charles a Louey Award for “Tourism Campaign of the Year,” awarded by the Louisiana Travel Association, for the creative and innovative approach to engaging this opportunity market.

Identifying an appetizing opportunity

Pinpointing Austin as the right market for this fall travel campaign began when the team at Visit Lake Charles noticed a spike in website visitation from people in the Austin area. This kicked off an exploration into the data to affirm that a targeted campaign in Austin could really move the needle.

The Website Contribution module within the ZDOS™ layers website data with geolocation data to allow destinations to see the correlation between people who visit a DMO website and those who travel there. But it wasn’t just the apparent interest from Austinites — demonstrated by increased web visits — that made the market a perfect candidate.

According to Visit Lake Charles Chief Marketing Officer Timothy Bush, Austin also offered an opportunity to diversify the type of traveler coming to the destination.

“Houston is doing well — they’re the top performer,” he said of Lake Charles’ biggest contributing drive market. “But what we have been focused on is not just visitation but also spending.”

Visitor spending data available in the ZDOS™ indicated that travelers from Austin outspend travelers from Houston. The marketing team hoped that by emphasizing Lake Charles’ creative culinary offerings, they could entice those travelers to venture beyond the casino resorts and explore more of the destination.

“We wanted to drive more economic impact, and that’s why we chose Austin over someplace else,” Timothy said. “There’s an audience that likes to spend, and we want them to spend that money in our community.”

Delivering on campaign objectives

The results of the campaign speak for themselves. 

  • From August to October 2022, Lake Charles saw a 65% increase in web visitors from the Austin DMA compared to the previous year.
  • Even better is that the city of Austin — not including surrounding cities within the DMA —  saw a lift in its share of visitation within Southwest Louisiana by 11%, with a share of total overnight visitors increasing by 8.5% YOY. 
  • And the culinary message definitely hit home — Austin travelers’ spending in the food category grew by 8% YOY.

And while DMOs may traditionally have had to wait weeks or months to understand the full impact of an integrated campaign like this one, Timothy said that measuring these results in the ZDOS™ gives him a significant advantage when he communicates with stakeholders.

“We can report on that lift in real-time,” he said, “and it adds a level of credibility to the work that we do as DMO professionals.”

Zartico’s POV: 5 Things We’ve Learned

  1. Lead with curiosity. Noticing a change in the data and asking “what if” could be the start of something exciting.
  2. Use data to back up your hunches. Visitor spending data can tell you if a market is worth your investment.
  3. This gem straight from Timothy: “When you go into any market, you’d better understand what that market is and how what you have is going to be valuable to that market. My approach is to look at markets as individuals. It’s like parenting — you don’t try to parent each of your kids the same way.”
  4. ZDOS™ offers tools for the entire campaign lifecycle — from planning to measurement to reporting.
  5. We had no idea Lake Charles was such a foodie spot. Save some gumbo — we're on our way!

Request a demo today to learn more about the Website Contribution module and other ways the ZDOS™ can help your destination demonstrate the impact of your marketing efforts on your community.

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