Report shows Delaware’s tourism marketing is working

DOVER — Delaware’s tourism branding and messaging is working successfully at positively influencing the view potential visitors have of the state, according to a new, independently produced report.

FutureBrand, an international brand consulting firm, just released the results of a study it conducted examining domestic traveler impressions of U.S. states, districts and territories and how effective the each destination’s current tourism marketing campaign is at changing those impressions.

The Delaware Tourism Office announced the report’s findings in a news release on Wednesday morning

The study concluded “Delaware’s messaging is very successful.” FutureBrand’s research showed more than half of respondents were more interested in visiting Delaware after seeing the state’s tourism logo, tourism website, official travel guide, etc.

“The small state of Delaware makes a big impact on domestic tourists, according to our research,” said Chris Nurko, Global Chairman of FutureBrand.

“Of those surveyed, 52 percent were more interested in visiting Delaware after seeing the state’s marketing — a score that outranks almost every other state in the study.” (Only Idaho went up more — 53 percent.)

FutureBrand said Delaware’s focus on beach/water imagery was “clearly the right move,” and the branding increased potential travelers’ association of the state with “key drivers of visitation: the beach, adventure and outdoor activity.”

Linda Parkowski, Delaware Tourism Director, said she learned about the third-party study in August after the surveying had been completed and the results had been calculated.

“It is extremely gratifying to have an outside company confirm the significant positive response the state tourism office has been getting from the ‘Endless Discoveries’ campaign,” Parkowski said.

“Since that campaign launched in early 2015, we’ve seen tremendous growth in our numbers. Now, we have independently verified proof that Endless Discoveries resonates with possible visitors.”

First branding effort

Visit Delaware created Endless Discoveries as a part of the state’s first ever comprehensive tourism branding effort. The new slogan, wave-inspired logo and other brand elements were the result of extensive work done to find messaging that would connect with tourists who might come to Delaware.

“We aimed to spark traveler’s curiosity and lead them on a journey of discovery,” said Parkowski. “The branding is now visible all over the state and region. It connects with people on a personal level and shows them Delaware is a great place to make travel memories that will last a lifetime.”

Broadcast, print and online advertising have increased awareness of Delaware as a desirable vacation destination, the tourism office said.

The marketing has focused on Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. The ads reached 18 million people in 2015. During the time while television commercials were on the air, organic traffic to VisitDelaware.com increased 404 percent from Washington, 202 percent from Philadelphia and 100 percent from Baltimore.

Delaware began putting a strategic emphasis on tourism in 2008, and since then it has grown into a $3-billion a year industry, which brings in eight million annual visitors and generates $470 million in taxes and fees for state and local government, according to the tourism office.

Compiling the survey

FutureBrand worked with the George Washington University School of Business and maru/vcr&c on the study. They surveyed a representative sample of 2,700 domestic tourists between June and August 2016. For the study they “collected perceptions, associations and intent to visit of a randomly selected state [a] respondent does not live in.” Then, the respondent was shown that state’s brand messaging and asked again about perceptions, associations and intent to visit.

Each of the 54 states, districts and territories was put into one of four categories – expand (positive initial reaction), invite (neutral initial reaction), clarify (mixed initial reaction) and challenge (negative initial reaction). Only five locales fell into the “expand” category. Half were labeled “clarify.” Delaware was one of 11 in the “invite” category. FutureBrand determined “invite” locations had the best chance of increasing intent to visit through great brand messaging because they are working with a blank slate.

Branding for Delaware’s neighbors was less effective in changing participants’ intent to visit – New York (12 percent), Washington, D.C. (20 percent), Virginia (20 percent), Pennsylvania (22 percent), Maryland (24 percent) and New Jersey (35 percent).

According to FutureBrand, initial reaction to each state was generally mixed, though for New Jersey it was negative and for Maryland it was neutral.

The Delaware Tourism Office, at 99 Kings Highway in Dover, a division of the Delaware Economic Development Office, promotes tourism and economic growth in Delaware. For more information, visit the Delaware Tourism website at www.visitdelaware.com or call toll-free (866) 284-7483.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.