Innovating Co-operative Ad Programs for the Travel and Tourism Industry

May 23, 2018  |  Victoria Simmons

Travel & Tourism

In today’s marketplace, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) continue to seek innovative ways to maximize their budget and increase awareness, visitation and spend. Industry co-operative advertising programs are an important component in the way we promote travel experiences for tourism clients both big and small. No two programs are alike. For as much as we would like to easily pre-package and replicate a defined process across all clients, the most successful programs are those custom-built around a clear set of objectives.

It is vitally important for all parties to understand what the program is meant to accomplish. Many DMOs, particularly at the state level, are legislatively mandated to offer some type of either co-op or grant program to local industry partners. BVK helps DMO’s to think strategically about how the program will fit within and provide lift to their overall marketing efforts.

The size, shape, form and offerings of today’s co-operative advertising programs are continually evolving. To drive a positive impact on the business, we challenge clients to think critically about which type of program and process is right for them while keeping in mind some fundamental best practices:

Partnerships Are Mutually Beneficial – At the most basic level, co-operative programs are partnerships. They must be mutually beneficial to both parties. Oftentimes, destination brands are so focused on the needs of the individual industry partners they can lose sight of their own interests. As the over-arching destination brand, it’s reasonable to expect something in return. Programs that can holistically leverage the brand equity of the destination are the most effective.

Communication & Transparency Are Key – Communication is a two-way street. DMO’s need to understand what is and what is not working at the partner level. And in return, be prepared to openly share with partners how the program is contributing (or not) to the overall marketing goals for the destination brand. Be proactive by providing education around the strategic intent of the program. Give partners tools for monitoring and assessing performance throughout the program.

Keep it Simple – Managing a co-op program can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Take advantage of online tools to administer aspects of the program such as sales, creative materials collections & ad development, approval, invoicing and reporting. Making the process easier increases participation and decreases costs.

Make it Relevant – Ensure that the advertising opportunities offered to partners are reflective of today’s modern media landscape. Start by understanding where and how consumers interact with the destination brand. Think beyond traditional media vehicles and focus on organically incorporating industry partners into the destination brand narrative from both a paid media and creative strategy perspective. Ad placements where industry partner messages are segmented or separate from the destination brand are a thing of the past. An integrated, storytelling approach generates better consumer engagement.

At BVK, we’re laser-focused on driving business results for our clients. Co-operative advertising programs are a wonderful way to engage the local industry in working toward a common goal. A successful program results in more visitors, staying longer, experiencing multiple aspects of the destination and ultimately spending more money. How we get there in terms of program development is through a strategic process as unique and diverse as our tourism client partners.

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Victoria Simmons
is a VP Group Account Director at BVK

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