By Rachel Sacco, President & CEO, Experience Scottsdale
They say time flies when you’re having fun. Over here at Experience Scottsdale, that adage certainly rings true.
On Sept. 21, 2016, the Scottsdale Convention & Visitors Bureau unveiled our new corporate identity, destination brand and advertising campaign. This month, as we continue to mark our 30th year as an organization, we also celebrate our first anniversary as Experience Scottsdale.
Over the past 365 days, Experience Scottsdale has shared new messaging with potential visitors around the globe. Our Absolutely Scottsdale print advertisements have appeared in glossy magazines including AFAR, Golf Digest, American Way and Bon Appetit. Our commercial and campaign imagery have appeared in our top markets of New York, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco and Canada.
Our revamped ExperienceScottsdale.com garnered 3.3 million page views in fiscal year 2016-17 and our rebranded social media channels gained a 177 percent increase in additional followers, likes and views. Nearly 30,000 stopped by our new visitor center, the Scottsdale Tourist Information Center at Scottsdale Fashion Square, and hundreds more browsed our adjacent brochure wall to learn more about what to see and do in Scottsdale.
This has been a year of change, growth and achievement, and it was a long journey to this point. Our rebranding initiative began in 2015, launching our organization into 18 months of extensive research, development, and testing.
Tourism is a fiercely competitive and crowded industry with destinations around the world vying for the same travelers, so it was important that our messaging remained relevant and enticing. Over the course of these 30 years, travelers have changed. Over time, their needs and wants have shifted. We needed to closely examine perceptions of Scottsdale to better understand our current and future audiences.
During those 18 months, we interviewed 280 Scottsdale stakeholders; held focus groups with 80 participants from Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and New York; and conducted online surveys with more than 1,900 previous and prospective U.S. and Canadian visitors. This research allowed us to design a brand that successfully raises awareness, taps into key audience motivators and attracts a broader audience while remaining authentic to Scottsdale’s identity.
Once we had our new advertising campaign, Absolutely Scottsdale, we went back to potential visitors to test its effectiveness. Through consumer testing, we learned our new television commercial and print advertisements increased respondents’ interest in visiting Scottsdale by 25 percent. Participants said the destination is exciting, inspiring and energizing. They said Scottsdale has a wide variety of things to see and do, great outdoor recreation opportunities and lively entertainment and nightlife.
We also learned our ads appealed to all respondents, regardless of age, geography or familiarity with the destination. Such insight proved we were on the right track with our messaging.
And so, we launched on Sept. 21 and our website went live. Shortly thereafter, our print advertisements began appearing in national magazines. In the winter and spring, our commercial was broadcasted in our top markets, while declarations of “The Desert Is Hot” appeared alongside stunning desert imagery during our campaign takeovers in New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Experience Scottsdale’s new brand, still in its infancy, evokes a sense of excitement, discovery and relaxation. Our advertisements spin misconceptions about the heat and vibrancy of our Sonoran Desert city. And we are better prepared than ever before to share Scottsdale’s story in a way that grabs visitors’ attention, appeals to their desires, and encourages them to learn more about all that Scottsdale has to offer.
If you haven’t seen our new ads yet, visit ExperienceScotts-dale.com/brand to learn more.
Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale, which is responsible for marketing the Scottsdale area as a premier travel and meetings destination to national and international leisure visitors, travel agents, tour operators and meeting planners.