How we decide where to aim our efforts

Friday, March 2, 2018 3:43 PM

Editor’s note: This is Part 1 of a two-part series on tourism marketing strategies.Last month, I described, in percentages, where the Durango Area Tourism Office spent its marketing dollars. I promised that this month, I would describe how we go about deciding where those marketing dollars go.

It wasn’t until I began writing this month’s column that I realized that explaining this process involves multi-layered decision-making. Hence, this process will bleed over to (at least) two columns.

There are many kinds of “structural” decisions that have to be made before the checks get written. For example, there is the geographic decision, which means, where in the United States (or abroad) do we direct our marketing efforts?

Then there’s the demographic decision, which means what types of people (millennials or baby boomers, for example) do we see the most value in targeting as future visitors?

And finally, which media (magazines, billboards, digital, social) do we select for each audience in each geographic area? I imagine you are beginning to see how complicated this can get.

Geographically this year, we are focusing pretty equally on the Front Range, Phoenix and Albuquerque, with a little left over to maintain our presence in Texas. We do this because we are primarily a drive market and much of our feedback indicates that we attract the majority of folks from these three major drive markets.

We believe that we can increase our market share in these markets, and that the Texas market can continue running with a minimal focus.

We get a surprising amount of attention from Illinois, Florida and Missouri, both online and in travel planner requests. Illinois and Florida are among the largest in population of any state in the country and would take some big bucks to penetrate these competitive markets.

We also want to keep an eye on the Los Angeles area since we have nonstop flights during the high season to and from L.A. Our sales team has successfully attracted international travelers from Japan and China by making presentations to tour companies on the West Coast that specialize in these markets.

As far as our target demographics go for 2018, we are focusing our marketing efforts almost equally across baby boomers, families and millennials. Baby boomers and millennials will be more heavily targeted in the slower, “shoulder” months, as they have more flexibility in how and when they can take vacations.

Families will be more heavily targeted for summer arrivals since their vacation planning tends to center around school schedules.

Once we determine where we are going to market Durango, we focus on how we are going to market Durango.

Next week, we will discuss what kind of person makes most travel decisions and how we creatively communicate with that person to reinforce that Durango is the best choice for a vacation.

Contact Durango Area Tourism Office Executive Director Frank Lockwood at