Travel Trends: State Tourism Best Practices, Digital Outlook Report & Time Spent on Screens

State Tourism Office Best Practices – The National Council of State Tourism Directors just released the results of its annual survey of state tourism office best practices. The report is an update on NCSTD’s 2004 survey and provides updated measurement of how tourism offices are using current technology in their marketing and promotion efforts. It covers a whole host of topics including web design and content; online marketing efforts; site management; website-related staffing and budget issues; analytics; and measuring effectiveness to name a few.  Some highlights of the report based on the responses of 40 state tourism offices are:

  • Median budget for digital activities (excluding salaries) was $200,000-399,000 – note however that 8 respondents reported a budget of at least $800,000 (note to self – talk to our CEO!)
  • While an expanded web presence has produced no incremental reduction in print costs, it has resulted in a dramatic reduction o f phone inquiries
  • Median unique visitors was 500,000-999,999 visitors annually; conversely median time spent was 4-5.59 minutes (interestingly, this report also has facts on “hits”…not sure why ANYONE is tracking it)
  • Most commonly reported “success” metrics are: pages visited, unique visits, length of session, volume of traffic from search engines
  • The most prevalent “engagement” metric used appears to be “request for information” (be it print or electronic).  Most notably, a majority of respondents reported that they would like to see a “standardized definition of inquiries shared by all state and territory offices”.  Troy and I are predictably psyched about this one….this bodes well for the engagement work we’ve been doing (read more here)
  • While the report was light overall in social media best practices, most states appear to be taking incremental steps in an effort to support their fans and curate a community; surprisingly however it still appears that state/regional organizations are having trepidations about social media.  They include: “lack of familiarity with social media, the amount of time it would take to implement and manage social media, and apprehension about the content of comments and / or photos that users may upload.”

To see how your state stacks up against the competition, order the Survey of U. S. State & Territory Office Website Practices report from U.S. Travel at: 202.408.8422.

2009 Digital Outlook Report –  Razorfish recently released the latest iteration of their annual Digital Outlook Report this week. The 2009 version is much like their last two versions; it tracks and prognosticates consumer behavior in the digital space and includes reports on client media spending trends, mobile web usage, social influence marketing, search, and behavioral targeting.   As usual, the report is a well-written, absorbing read that takes you on a magical but complex 180-page journey through all things digital.  Some of the big concepts were:

  • The Web gets a pulse: Instant communication platforms such as Twitter and Yammer along with location-aware devicesis making the web “instantly reactive”
  • Content Fragmentation: If you’re a content producer, your success and long-term sustainability will depend on your “ability to let content travel across a myriad of platforms, devices and lifestyles” and the will to “embrace new forms of measurement, data, technology and digital infrastructure to manage complexity”
  • Doing More With Less: Use the current economic climate as an opportunity to experiment.  Forgo traditional buying methods and explore new avenues such as ad-exchanges; leverage your fans and dabble in social influence marketing
  • Email Marketing:  Instead of sending email to a black hole, use analytics to develop a long term relationship with your customer; instead of a broad based e-mail newsletter, increase CTR and engagement through trigger and event driven e-mails.

Time Spent on Screens-  The average American adult spends eight hours a day in front of screens—TVs, cellphones, laptops etc.—and computer use has replaced radio as the second most common media activity according to a recent Council for Research Excellence study(FYI: Print was fourth).  Key findings include:

  • Surprisingly, more than 99% of screen time is TV (for 18-24 age group, TV represented 98%)
  • Almost every demographic surveyed engaged in “multi-tasking” or snacking on multiple screen simultaneously; people over 55 are markedly less likely to be multitasking
  • 18-to-24-year-olds — generally college students and new entrants into the work force — watch the smallest amount of live TV of any age group (three and a half hours a day), spend the most time text messaging (29 minutes a day) and watch the most online video (5.5 minutes a day)

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