Cooperative Marketing Investment Program Exceeds Expectations: Industry Survey
Travel Alberta’s Cooperative Marketing Investment Program is hitting the mark with Alberta tourism operators and successfully growing tourism revenue in the province by investing in industry-led marketing projects.
That’s the feedback gleaned from a survey of program participants and two planning sessions conducted last year.
The sessions and survey were designed to find out how industry was currently interacting with the program and how Travel Alberta investment can best support the needs of industry and create revenue growth for Alberta moving forward.
“Our industry partners had very positive comments about the Cooperative Marketing Investment Program and their responses indicated they were satisfied with how the program is benefiting them,” says Andi Dzilums, Manager of Cooperative Marketing.
Strong Return on Investment
Travel Alberta’s Cooperative Marketing Investment Program has been operating in its present form for about six years.
It invests resources — financial as well as Travel Alberta team mentorship — in industry-led marketing initiatives that involve two or more Alberta-based tourism organizations.
The program is producing a strong return on investment of 5:1 — with $5 of incremental tourism revenue generated for industry partners for every Travel Alberta dollar spent.
In 2015, a total of $6.7 million was invested in marketing projects. Industry partnerships that accessed the program built incremental business of $35 million.
“I am not surprised by this finding” says Dzilums. “We work with some amazing organizations and marketers, and to see this success only reinforces the influence their marketing is having on their revenue.”
Valuable Feedback Provided
Feedback provided in the program sessions and in response to survey questions was that industry is highly engaged with the program and felt it provided significant value.
A number of partners mentioned that the program promotes partnerships and collaboration that would not occur without the financial support from Travel Alberta.
Several others said they could directly connect the marketing funds they’d received to a “tremendous” increase in visitation and return on investment. “The program is crucial to marketing activities for smaller DMOs, private enterprise and municipal collaborative projects,” said one.
Many mentioned it was not just the financial investment that helped them to market effectively, but also the great service and “consulting support” from Travel Alberta team members. “The Travel Alberta staff are excellent to work with.”
“An important benefit of the program is that you don’t have to work on your marketing strategy in isolation, which can prove difficult for certain organizations that do not have the capacity,” explains Dzilums. “So there’s lots of support from our team up front and throughout the projects because we want to contribute to the success of campaigns.”
Survey respondents identified investment in digital/online marketing as most important to their business, followed by destination branding, a marketing strategy and new product experiences.
Most respondents use visitor numbers (91.3%), sales revenue (76.1%), social media engagement (76.1%) and website metrics (72.8%) to measure their marketing efforts, but several indicated they wanted help in measuring success more effectively.
“We are working within our team to understand how we can help industry measure their marketing tactics,” Dzilums says. “We’ve recently developed a marketing measurement document for partners that will live on our industry site, helping our partners understand how to measure individual marketing tactics, especially in the digital spaces.”
Other survey findings:
- 382 applications in 2015
- About 52% of participants spend less than $25,000/year on marketing
- $6.7 million invested in industry-led projects
- Top three types of projects: Festivals and events at 49.5%; followed by tourism operator marketing partnerships and Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) campaigns
- The largest group of applicants (31%) were not-for-profits, followed by tourism operators at 15.2%
- 97.8% of respondents list Alberta as a top target market, followed by B.C., Saskatchewan and border U.S. states
- Investment: 67% within Alberta (up from 56% in 2014); 19% in other Canadian provinces (22% in 2014); 22% international (14% in 2014)