Experiential Marketing in Travel and Tourism, with Paul Soseman

Episode 168:

Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO.

Paul began his career 20 years ago, running the marketing department for a consumer electronics retailer where he oversaw a multi-million dollar advertising budget and created special events and promotions that ultimately became a primary driver of the retailers business. He then brought his event and retail experience to Road Runner, a then startup broadband internet service provider, where he created event marketing efforts to help educate consumers about the difference between dial-up and broadband internet speeds.

In 2003, Paul left the corporate world to start his own event marketing company. Since then, Department Zero has been at the forefront of the experiential marketing industry, producing more than 40,000 unique event activations for a mixture of agency and brand side clients across the travel/tourism, automotive, CPG, and apparel industries.

Paul leads the creative and strategic direction of the company, collaborating with client partners to design, plan + deploy live brand experiences and consumer activation programs that educate participants, amplify brand awareness, attract press coverage, and deliver quantifiable results.

Some of their typical work includes pop-up shops, roadshows, and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, as well as press, and retail-focused events.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, Paul Soseman, founder and CEO of Department Zero, joins us to share his story. He discusses the topic of experiential marketing and he explains how DMOs can incorporate it into their marketing strategies to drive more results.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How experiential marketing works in destinations
  • Why experiential marketing is so much more effective than traditional marketing tactics
  • How social media has transformed experiential marketing
  • Examples of creative collaborations Paul has done throughout his career
  • How destinations can capitalize on dwell-time with experiential marketing

Department Zero

Paul Soseman is the founder and CEO of Department Zero, an experiential marketing agency based in Kansas City, MO. And while Paul has done projects across a wide range of verticals such as automotive, CPG, and apparel, he has started to make a significant impact on travel and tourism as well. In an industry based on experience and storytelling, experiential marketing is a powerful angle for engaging travelers in any destination. In the latest episode of Destination on the Left, Paul joins us to talk about the different ways DMOs can leverage experiential marketing tactics like pop-up shops, roadshows and mobile tours, college campus events, sponsorship activation programs, social media content experiences, and press and retail-focused events.

Much More Than a Trend

Department Zero has been running seventeen years strong and it has steadily transitioned from events to brand experiences. But experiential marketing is no longer just a trend, it is a staple in the marketing strategies of DMOs across the country. Brands are constantly trying to tell us about their products and services, but when a customer experiences them first hand, it resonates on a much deeper level. Destinations are seeing real results when they add destination marketing to their repertoire and social media is a major reason for this. Social media and experiential marketing are intertwined, and we want people to share their experiences for the world to see. Not only does experiential marketing lead travelers to create FOMO moments, but it sparks a reaction of user-generated content that markets your destination for you.

Leave a Lasting Impression

Whatever the experience is, it has to be designed around specific goals. And whether it’s generating leads, press coverage, or impressions, the experience and campaign must be built to achieve that goal. One example of this is the campaign Paul helped design for Lufthansa Airlines. They were introducing a new, direct-route between San Jose, CA and Frankfurt, DE, and they wanted to find a unique way to build awareness for the new route. Paul’s team created an interactive videogame experience that both educated travelers about Frankfurt and provided them with travel tips as well. And through a live feed with a flight attendant in Frankfurt, they gave out free first-class tickets on the new route, drawing a huge crowd. There are so many ways to interact with your target audience and leave an impression!

Episode Transcript

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