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Tourism campaign seeks out San Diego, Phoenix

Posted: March 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.

The city identified that people in the San Diego and Phoenix markets are more likely to visit Santa Clarita and responded with a campaign specifically aimed at those locations.

 

Launching a new tourism campaign to draw visitors to Santa Clarita, the city has already attracted significant traffic to its tourism website with the intention of luring out-of-towners to the area’s local businesses, according to city officials.

The first campaign, which began in February, targeted the San Diego markets. A second campaign began Monday in Phoenix.

“We’ve already seen tremendous growth, 150 percent, of increased visitors from San Diego to our visitsantaclarita.com website — by using TV ads, radio spots, print ads and billboards,” said Russell Sypowicz, economic development associate with the city’s tourism office.

The goal of the campaign is to get people to spend the night at local hotels, shop at retail stores, eat in restaurants and contribute to the local economy, Sypowicz said.

To do so, the city’s tourism office developed a comprehensive media campaign that also ties in with an online sweepstakes program for visitors to win a vacation to Santa Clarita.

Partnering with some of the local businesses to promote the area, sweepstakes winners could earn a stay at a local hotel, gift cards to restaurants, rounds of golf, tickets to Six Flags and more.

Tourism district

The Santa Clarita City Council created the Tourism Marketing District in July 2010, when it began adding a 2-percent assessment to room tax at local hotels, Sypowicz said. The money is collected and pooled to fund the city’s tourism campaign and can only be spent to advertise Santa Clarita as tourism destination.

Five area hotels, including Best Western, Courtyard by Marriott, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn Express and the Hyatt Regency Valencia, came together with the city to form a marketing group dedicated to growing Santa Clarita’s tourism industry through increased marketing.

“Paying the tax benefits hotels when city promotes itself,” said Michael Webster, vice president of operations for Santa Clarita’s Holiday Inn Express and Best Western Valencia Inn. “And it promotes all the other activities to do in the community, whether it’s golfing, Six Flags, eating at local restaurants or attending all different kinds of activities in the area to benefit the area.

San Diego and Phoenix were targeted because they were identified as the top two feeder-markets for the city of Santa Clarita, he said, because people were reasonably close and people had the ability to travel to Santa Clarita.

The campaign allows the city to showcase all that Santa Clarita has to offer and lets people know of the opportunities to take a mini vacation here.

“As a tourism office, we get pitch-calls all day, all the time to advertise at the airport and in other cities,” Sypowicz said. “So, we created a comprehensive multimedia marketing campaign after analyzing who the target demographic (is).”

Once the markets were identified, the city sought the right advertising vehicles to carry their message.

Media campaign

Advertising on the San Diego Jack FM radio station, online users are offered a chance to enter Santa Clarita’s sweepstakes drawing and linked to the city’s tourism website. The station is the third-ranked radio station in San Diego with the 25 to 54 age group who has the tendency to travel, Sypowicz said.

“We put goals in place that were measurable to determine the success of the campaign,” he said. “At the end of eight weeks, we’ll know how many people signed up for the sweepstakes and how much Web traffic it attracted.”

Several months later in the fall, the city will evaluate to see if the campaign was successful in terms of generating increased hotel stays, Sypowicz said.

As people log onto the city’s tourism site to register for the sweepstakes, it allows the city to plan future campaigns, he said.

While the multimedia campaigns will last eight weeks each in the San Diego and Phoenix markets, the print aspect of the campaign will last throughout all of 2012, the city said.

“People coming to L.A. can stay in the Santa Clarita Valley and go to Six Flags, Universal City, Disneyland or Ventura in one day,” Sypowicz said. “This is a perfect home base for them to stay.”

The real test is data from the hotels, Sypowicz said. That will show how many people from the targeted markets stayed with the city this year, and then the information from 2012 can be compared. The hotels are sharing information with the city because they’re also very much invested in program.

“We’re expecting an increase in tourism anyway because of the improving economy,” Sypowicz said. “So we would want to see more than a 100-percent increase in hotel stays because we’re advertising in throughout year.”   

 

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