The Montana Office of Tourism and Business Development is working smarter thanks to new research that zeroes in on who is most likely to visit Montana, and how tourism marketing efforts can reach those likely travelers. That’s the takeaway from a recent feature piece by RootsRated Labs, a digital source that writes about best practices in outdoor and travel marketing.
RootsRated Labs took a closer look at how Montana’s “humble” marketing budget has resulted in more than 12 million visitors last year, breaking visitation records.
“Montana Tourism invests in tracking potential travelers to Montana, long before they actually set foot there.
"We know, all the time, who is coming here, why they are coming here, and how best to get our message in front of them," says Pelej. “Plus, if they’re searching in the winter for summer-related info, we know to feed them summer info.”
She adds, "We also know the profile of the person traveling to Montana in September and October, and we know what they want to be doing."
Ultimately, she says, "With research, there is far less waste and cost when we do spend money."
Sound complicated? Pelej assures it’s not. She also says it’s far less cost-prohibitive than people think.
"I think people get intimidated by what they think the cost of these things is, but when you find the right vendors, it’s very, very affordable."
MOTBD’s primary data tool is sold through the vendor Arrivalist, which helps them track when smartphone users who’ve clicked on Montana ads actually set foot in the state—and they want to share their intel.
Pelej and her team are pumping millions into the marketplace because they’re invested in the success of every business under the Montana umbrella: each city and region in the state, as well as every hotel, ski resort, kayak outfitter, gear shop, etc.” – RootsRated Labs
The feature explains that for Montana tourism marketers to reach the right audience, it’s all about promoting a feeling, not a product.
Montana isn’t just a state—it’s a state of mind. The state’s tourism office has worked to make their destination synonymous with its "magic, mystique and uniqueness," says Pelej.
That concept seems to have a wider, broader reach, considering that not everyone enjoys downhill skiing, but most can likely identify with a desire for more free-spirited fun in their lives.
To that end, MOTBD changed its ad messaging, using stories in a campaign called The Sky’s The Limit designed to create an emotional connection.
"The message was not, ‘I want to do that in Montana,’ but ‘I want to feel that in Montana.’" Pelej says. “It’s about achieving your full potential.” – RootsRated Labs
Read the full feature piece here. And click here to learn more about Montana’s new tourism marketing research.