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Around the Lake: Measuring marketing, advertising mediums by area demographics

Around the Lake: Measuring marketing, advertising mediums by area demographics

December 12th, 2012 by By Jim Divincen, Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association administrator in News

Editor's Note: "Around the Lake" allows the Lake Area's five chambers of commerce directors, Convention and Visitors Bureau director and Tri-County Lodging Association director to share upcoming event information, local issues and fun topics with The Lake Today's readers. Make sure to check out the "Around the Lake" column to find out all about what's happening at the Lake from the area's top people "in the know."

We would like to thank The Lake Today staff for the opportunity to share with their readers how the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association (TCLA) promotes and advertises our beautiful Lake of the Ozarks.

Part of any comprehensive marketing plan should include a research component which helps measure the success of the advertising mediums and marketing activities employed in that plan, as well as assisting future marketing planning and creative messages.

Our advisory Board is currently applying the information we received from the most recent Fiscal 2012 (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) Conversion Study Research towards planning the Fiscal 2014 (July 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014) TCLA annual budget. The Division of Tourism Research tells us that more than 90 percent of all travel being planned today is done so online and more than 50 percent of all travel today is being booked online.

We continue to see this shift in our advertising results. The research company TCLA uses has approximated that destination marketing organizations (other Convention & Visitor Bureaus) around the State of Missouri have seen a combined 40 percent reduction in inquiries from print products over the past two years. This would include prospective visitors calling in for travel information, visiting the website for travel information or sending in a reader service card for more information.

Through the first 10 months of this year, 2012, print inquiries are down 18 percent and visits to the website are up by 29 percent compared to the corresponding 10 months in 2011. Another way to examine this: the amount of print inquiries down for the first 10 months of 2012 represents only 8 percent of the increase in website visits for 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. This shift in how prospective visitors are planning their travel has caused a shift in how we market to those visitors, and is a great example of the value of the annual research component and how that information is being applied towards future marketing.

One of the most successful elements employed this past year is Google, Bing, and Yahoo Search Engine Marketing or pay per click campaigns. TCLA has 15 different campaigns running today including Visit, Shopping, Visit Mobile, Accommodations, Attractions, Dining, Maps, Outdoors, Boating, Fishing, Golf, Spas, Visitor Guides, Specials and Meetings.

Within these 15 campaigns, we purchased 739 key words and phrases to assist in putting the Lake of the Ozarks as the first option when searching on one of the three search engines, Google, Bing or Yahoo. This search engine marketing strategy is one of the most cost efficient mediums TCLA has utilized to date and will continue to use in future marketing plans.

Part of the budget planning sessions with the TCLA Board includes a statistical analysis of media performance for the previous year. The overall conversion rate for print products for Fiscal 2012 was 7 percent. This means that only seven out of 100 prospective visitors, who responded to our print ads and requested information, actually came to the Lake and spent tourism revenues at Lake Area businesses. When sampling 654 email surveys sent to prospective visitors who requested information on the website, the conversion rate was 73.5 percent.

This means that 73 out of 100 prospective visitors who requested information on the website actually came to the Lake and spent tourism revenues at Lake-area businesses. As a result of the Search Engine Marketing Campaign, for the first 11 months of 2012, the cost-per-click to the website was 26 cents per click. The TCLA Board takes this one step further and examines a "cost-per-converted visitor" since this is the ultimate goal of the advertising campaigns. For Fiscal Year 2012 (July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012) the average cost-per-inquiry for print products was $3.29 at a 7 percent conversion rate. This equates to a cost-per-converted visitor at $46.95.

For the first 11 months of calendar year 2012 the average cost-per-click to the website is 26 cents and the Fiscal 2012 online survey conversion rate is 73.5 percent. This equates to a cost-per-converted visitor at 35 cents, or a 134 percent difference. This example is the primary reason the TCLA Board continues to reduce their print investments to target a higher return on investment with an online campaign. Any comprehensive media plan needs to present the website address in front of readers via a print campaign.

Additionally, editorial coverage from magazines and newspapers is a tremendously valued and treasured marketing commodity. Other TCLA budget components include a Group Sales effort, a Public Relations effort, a Legislative effort, creative ad production and placement, fulfillment requirements to the advertising, and supporting first-time special events and festivals. Special events have an immediate economic impact on Lake Area businesses. Speaking of special events, don't forget to make plans now to attend the Liverpool Legends Beatles Tribute band performing at 8 p.m. both March 8-9 at the Main Street Musical Hall in Osage Beach. This will be the group's fifth year performing at the Lake and is a wonderfully entertaining evening of Beatles music for all ages. You can reserve tickets by contacting the Convention & Visitor Bureau office at 573-348-1599 or the toll free number at 1-800-FUN-LAKE.

We would like to thank the TCLA board of directors for volunteering their time to promote and advertise our beautiful destination. On behalf of the board and the staff at the TCLA office, we would like to wish each of you the very best this Holiday Season. The Camden County Advisory Board for TCLA includes: Sue Westenhaver, Inn at Harbour Ridge Bed & Breakfast; Michael Spriggs, Point Randall Resort; Sheryl Elia, Alhonna Resort; Don Welch, Quail's Nest Inn & Suites; Fred Dehner, Tan-Tar-A Resort; Dean Chininis, The Lodge of Four Seasons; and non-voting advisor, Kris Franken, Camden County Commission. The Miller County Advisory Board for TCLA includes: Larry Jones, Osage Beach RV Park; Lance Utley, The Resort At Port Arrowhead; John Peters, Cross Creek RV Park; Mark Krantz, Keys to the Lake Lodging; and non-voting advisor, Brian Duncan, Miller County Commission. The Morgan County Advisory Board for TCLA includes: Russell Burdette, Your Lake Vacation and Bill Johnson, Eagles Nest Resort Properties. The TCLA staff includes: Jim Divincen, administrator; Rebecca Green, in-house public relations manager; and Lagina Fitzpatrick, Director of group sales.