Haunted History Trail of New York State 2018 Visitors Guide
Timeline: January through April 2018
In its fifth year as an official tourism trail, the Haunted History Trail of New York State is a collection of over 80 creepy, spooky, and downright haunted locations that offer experiences for visitors interested in the paranormal. Each year, the trail produces an annual visitors guide outlining these locations, their offerings, specific tourist information and the haunted backstory that makes these stops so interesting. In previous years, the guide had been created in a listing format – simply citing each location individually and organizing them by New York State Vacation Region.
In a research study conducted by the trail in 2017, the majority of visitors were identified as day trippers from around the state. With that in mind, the Trail hired Break the Ice Media (BTI) to manage and execute the project of creating the annual visitors guide. Break the Ice Media identified a goal to expand the reach in 2018, encourage longer stays and promote multi-day visits with overnights. Knowing that travelers demand more creative content and look for the stories behind an asset or destination, BTI chose to take the guide in a new direction this year. They ditched the Haunted History Trail’s full listing style, and created content that was compelling, narrative, and inclusive of the trail’s assets. This new approach tapped into niche market segments, giving visitors more ideas and inspiration on how to travel the trail and make it a multi-day experience.
The Break the Ice team started by reviewing the premium partners on the trail – those locations that pay a higher investment to be a part of the program – and created a layout of topics and stories that would equitably feature each place. These topics included haunted restaurants, hotels, ghost hunting locations, creepy spots, and unique categories, like haunted theatres across the state. The guide length was increased from 32 pages to 36, in an effort to include more photography and visual components. A map showcasing locations was planned for the front of the guide, and an index of all locations in the back.
Once the layout was approved, BTI began crafting content for the guide. Each article was written to include the location name and details around why the place is haunted, as well as noting the specific opportunity available to visitors, such as ghost hunts or paranormal investigations. While the components remained the same across all stories, the style of each article differed – some acted as a round-up, giving each location its own paragraph or section while others wove a story that integrated the locations into the overall compelling narrative. Creative titles were written for each article, including “Bites & Boos: Spooky Spots to Sink Your Teeth Into,” “Theatre-Dwelling Ghosts Have a Flair for the Dramatic,” and “’Spirited’ Stops to Fill Up Your Glass.” Some titles were displayed on the cover, magazine-style, to draw readers into the guide and to the stories.
A freelance designer was hired to re-imagine the guide, giving it a new look and feel with a “Travel Magazine” style. He was tasked with creating a visually-stunning layout that utilized high-resolution photography from across the entire trail – a gallery that has been carefully curated over the last five years to showcase the spooky side of each of these tourist destinations. As part of the redesign, BTI suggested moving away from a black background on the interior pages to make it easier to read, and opted for more photography and design elements like smoke and font choices to give the piece a spooky feel.
A Facebook Advertising Campaign was created and ran from January through April 2018 (with a budget of $3,500) which directed consumers to the website to request a 2018 guide. The campaign targeted potential visitors in drive markets across NY, PA, OH, and New England to encourage them to visit the website to request a guide. Over 5,500 visitors requested a brochure during that time period – far ahead of the previous year’s distribution, which had seen no requests prior to March 2017. A distribution plan was created for the brochure to place the piece in key Welcome Centers across New York State and via trade shows. A digital brochure is available on the Haunted History Trail website for visitors looking for easy access to the content.