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More directed tourism ads pay off for Utah

Published January 13, 2012 7:08 pm

2011 visitation • Researcher says $2.5M investment brought $132M in additional spending.
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Increasing costs for a national cable television campaign to promote summer tourism in Utah forced state officials to scale back advertising purchases into five Western markets.

As a result, fewer potential tourists saw the Utah ads, but those who did viewed them more than three times as often, largely because the spots could be televised more often in local markets than nationally.

Denise Miller of Indiana-based Strategic Market and Research Inc. presented findings about the effectiveness of Utah's $2.5 million summer 2011 advertising campaign Friday to the Utah Office of Tourism board at a meeting in Salt Lake City.

Miller said her firm's research showed that advertising influenced 177,288 households to take trips to Utah. That number increased to 305,241 trips when repeat visitation was considered. The $2.5 million investment resulted in $132 million in additional tourism spending in Utah, with each $1 in marketing generating $52 in direct spending.

Utah posted a 4 percent increase in hotel occupancy, a 3 percent rise in attraction attendance, a 5.5 percent increase in national park attendance and a 5.3 percent jump in restaurant sales. Overall tourist spending was down slightly this past summer, but that might be because visitors took shorter trips from nearby markets. Lodging, shopping, entertainment and transportation spending in Utah all appeared to be down from 2010, when a record 20.2 million people visited the state. Spending on food and meals appeared to be up in 2011, though final figures are not available.

The major portion of the advertising campaign included generic 30-second and 15-second spots in Denver, Portland, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Utah spent about 6 percent more on the campaign than in 2010, but the high cost of national cable television advertising rates forced tourism officials into abandoning the national campaign utilized that year. Instead, the campaign concentrated on specific markets closer to the state.

Utah Office of Tourism Director Leigh von der Esch said she expected that advertising costs could rise again in 2012, largely because it is an election year, which increases competition for available spots.

"We are on the right track, but if we had a little more money, you could see how much better we could do," said board chair Colin Fryer of St. George.

The board also approved an $118,010 print buy, with much of the money going to advertising in Budget Travel, Sunset, National Geographic and Outside magazines.

wharton@sltrib.comTwitter: @tribtomwharton




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