Celebrating more than 320 days of fabulous sunshine, Las Vegas is the place to be practically anytime of the year. But with summer highs greater than 100° F / 38° C, encouraging leisure travel even among the most ardent sun worshipers was a difficult proposition. Add to the mix a faltering U.S. economy where consumers were cautious about discretionary spending. To address challenges due to the economic impact of fluctuating visitor volume, and to counteract historically low summer visitation numbers, the team developed CAMP VEGAS, a cross-platform, multi-channel destination marketing campaign.
Packaging the destination as a summer camp for adults provided opportunities to push distinct product offerings coupled with a retail call-to-action. All was delivered under the “Only Vegas” brand umbrella. This strategy offered multiple options for resort properties to “piggy back” and to deliver a consumer experience relevant to their brands.
Noting modest upticks in visitor volume since February 2010, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) tasked R&R Partners, Inc. (R&R) with developing a summer tourism campaign to capitalize on renewed destination interest among cross-demographic travelers and jump start brand visibility in regional and national media outlets. R&R used the “media as messenger” along with a host of consumer engagement tools to revitalize interest and position Las Vegas as the ideal escape.
A national quantitative online tracking study was conducted weekly from November 2008 through February 2009 (and then bi-weekly thereafter). Each research wave included a minimum random sample of 1,000 leisure travelers selected throughout the U.S. Survey topics include perceptions about the economy and its impact on households, travel intentions and behavior and an in-depth dive on attitudes and perceptions about Las Vegas. Heart+Mind Strategies (HHS) was brought in as a strategic research partner in this effort.
These studies revealed that Americans were willing to travel to Las Vegas despite the soft economy. However, they were in search of a reason or “justification” for a Las Vegas getaway to validate the trip. In addition, utilizing an audience segmentation study conducted by HHS, the campaign targeted the domestic/leisure traveler comprised of ages 25 – 54 with a HHI $55K+. Programming provided a product-driven adaptation of these research findings, focusing on the idea of a summer getaway for adults.
To demonstrate the “value” of a Las Vegas getaway and to further educate key audiences about unique destination experiences, the team employed the following strategic approaches:
• Enhance Las Vegas awareness and stimulate travel intent by developing unique brand engagement opportunities for media and consumers
• Extend Las Vegas brand presence in- and out-of-market utilizing a mix of national media attention, experiential / interactive marketing, and social media
• Position Las Vegas as a quick-break escape by promoting new destination developments to stoke interest among consumers and media
• Link resources with resort community and push the new VisitLasVegas.com (VLV.com) booking tool
A multi-city publicity stunt announcing the early start to summer in Las Vegas was executed on April 29, 2010, to launch the campaign. The iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign was changed for three days to read “Welcome to Fabulous CAMP VEGAS,” a first in its 51-year history. Throughout the summer, PR efforts pushing new destination developments (e.g., summer concerts and pool openings) were supported under the CAMP VEGAS umbrella and extended to key feeder markets: Phoenix, LA, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco and Denver.
The summer channel on VLV.com provided information destination happenings. The brand channel highlighted pools, daylife/nightlife, concerts and entertainment to stoke visitation. A major component within this channel was the booking tool, which provided consumers a direct call-to-action to book rooms across properties – driving visitation to the destination.
Social media outlets were utilized as the primary media platform beyond television for consumer engagement. Through the use of unique video footage and still photography highlighting the variety of product offerings, social media proved an invaluable resource in reaching consumers. In addition, to social media applications such as Facebook and Twitter provided an avenue to inform brand followers about what was happening in the destination on a regular and targeted basis.
Las Vegas saw a 3.3-percent uptick in visitation for the first time in five years during the traditionally slow summer months from May through September 2010. Additionally, average daily room rates (ADR) showed consistent increases during the same time period – an occurrence not seen since 2007.
Carefully “seeding” story ideas with online media, created groundswell interest about the upcoming summer season in Las Vegas. The strategy focused on online outreach to stoke initial buzz. Out-of-market stunts in LA and Chicago promoted the early start of summer and provided a platform for repeat campaign coverage. The campaign resulted in 800+ distinct placements, generated 559 million impressions and resulted in an earned media value in excess of $7.6 million within five months.
Earned media efforts increased awareness about Las Vegas’ summer happenings (events, product offerings and concerts). The referral rate for the VLV.com booking direct tool saw a 3-percent increase during the traditionally slow summer months from May through September 2010.
Social Media Engagement
Social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube were used as the primary outlets to engage consumers. A weekly “Vegas Twivia” Twitter contest was created in which Twitter followers were asked various summer-related Vegas-focused questions. There were also several online extensions, including a YouTube home-page masthead, which yielded several million impressions. During the two-month (June-July) social media blitz for CAMP VEGAS, the campaign delivered: 1,214,414 total brand channel visits on YouTube, over 5,000 new fans on Facebook, and more than 3,500 new followers on Twitter.