Having money isn’t the only tool needed to promote a destination… Where are your marketing dollars coming from right now? Where will they come from in the next six months? In the next year? The first part of 2020 has forced us to be creative, and the creativity isn’t stopping any time soon.

Change is coming to the destination marketing world. Maybe it has already arrived. Budgets for marketing will undoubtedly be changing but the expectation to promote will still be there. Even more so considering the assistance tourism partners will need to get the word out that businesses are opening and welcoming visitors.

Tourism marketers are known for being out-of-the-box thinkers in creating brand awareness so now’s the time to think outside the box within the (budget) box. It’s time to use frugality (an old-school word that’s coming back, you heard it here first) and spark creativity while operating on a ZERO (well almost zero) budget.

Stay focused on your social media

We’re already set up on various social channels and these channels only cost your time. Have conversations with your viewers. Engage with questions and seek answers. Gather up user-generated content and be thankful for it … in print. By that I mean say thank you! Talk about what’s new in your area. We all know that the media is always looking for what’s new. They want to be the first to showcase what’s new and we can make it easy for them. Speaking of which –

The media is looking. Give them all you got!

During quarantine, media was and is still looking for anything that shows creativity and they will continue to be scouting. Let them know. Be bold ‘cause why not!

We have seen so many creative ideas come from this time already. Wineries and breweries are doing virtual tastings. We’ve seen a lot of Finger Lakes wineries go virtual for their wine tastings. And the New York State Brewers Association found a way to host interactive, virtual happy hours with brewers.

We’ve seen this creativity pop up with restaurants not only upping their take-out service, but also by selling the gourmet foods that the general public can’t find.

A recovering economy, phased reopenings and continued health and safety measures are going to continue driving DMOs and tourism partners to innovate. Keep a pulse on what’s going on, and keep monitoring and responding to the Help A Writer Out (HARO) leads.

Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate

The single biggest way to maximize a limited budget is by collaborating with partners on common projects, themes, products, outdoor attributes, quirky attractions and so on. Some of the most successful destination marketing campaigns have come out of collaborations that bridge counties, regions and across states. A shining example is the Haunted History Trail of New York State with over 80 partners statewide.

A very small budget can be maximized into something way beyond a small DMO’s scope by partnering with others and increasing the ability to create and promote. It’s call “coop-etition” and it works!

Bonus: Collaboration Extended

During these crazy, mixed-up, odd and thought-provoking times, it takes broadening partnerships to achieve great things. We often look at the out-of-area visitors as our focus when, in actuality, our home-town neighbors can be our biggest advocates. Collaborating with local partners outside of the tourism industry can reap benefit and after all, sometimes we just need to PR ourselves. Be a willing partner in using your tourism marketing skills to enhance the way the local community works through these tough times. While helping your community to brand the ‘new normal’ and help them save money you also encourage your community to help promote the wonderful place they live.

Visit Finger Lakes, Ontario County, NY, has fully converted their home page to include the latest updates on things to do and what is available, like so many DMOs are doing. They also designed a Physical Distancing Signage Booklet with fun and creative decals for their tourism partners to use as they being to reopen.

If the themes of creativity in the face of adversity, coop-etition and collaboration sound familiar, you’ve been listening to the Destination on the Left podcast. If you haven’t, it’s time to check it out and find more inspiration from your fellow tourism marketers.