If travel is the new currency, Tucson needs to spend a few more trips - Inside Tucson Business: Inside Business Travel

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TOURISM IN TUCSON If travel is the new currency, Tucson needs to spend a few more trips

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Posted: Friday, October 11, 2013 12:00 am

The typical American takes four vacations a year. Sometimes we drive. Sometimes we fly. We know from our Visitor Inquiry Study conducted by Strongpoint Research last November, that 43 percent of Tucson’s visitor base arrived by car. Of the 54 percent who arrived by plane, nearly 28 percent flew into Tucson International Airport and just over 26 percent landed at Phoenix Sky Harbor.

We also know that the most popular form of vacation for Americans currently is the weekend trip. In fact, 53 percent of all the vacations taken this year will be weekend getaways. This is a powerful insight. Why? If it takes a traveler nearly a full day to get to a destination and a full day to get home, then it’s quite likely that destination is going to fall to the bottom of the list.

Without question, adding new nonstop routes is vital to bringing in new visitors and meetings to the Tucson region and to growing market share. This is certainly a challenge for Tucson Airport Authority given the fundamental changes that have occurred in the airline industry over the last several years that negatively impact midsize hubs like TIA.

Fortunately, it’s not insurmountable as evidenced by Alaska Airlines’ welcomed announcement in June that it was adding an additional nonstop route from Portland, beginning Nov. 1. Tucson Airport Authority’s air service incentive program, combined with a strong showing of tourism industry support for the route, were critical factors in Alaska Airline’s decision to expand its nonstop service to Portland. (Alaska Airlines currently operates daily nonstop service to Seattle.)

As part of our mission to drive economic development by connecting visitors with their ideal travel and meeting experiences, Visit Tucson remains strategically focused on targeting those key geographic feeder markets that are closer to home and where nonstop service is available. Those markets are Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.

To promote the new nonstop service and Tucson’s new travel brand “Free Yourself,” we have launched an aggressive advertising campaign that targets a younger, affluent demographic with active lifestyles.

Having a balanced online and offline presence, the brand experiences we’ve taken to market—“Freedom to Roam” and “Surroundings that Surround You”—are positioned to capture the imaginations of potential travelers and designed to generate that first time visit.

The various platforms we’re using to reach consumers at their preferred touch points include mobile, online video, search and email. To drive online bookings, tactics include targeting consumers who are actively searching travel to Arizona and serving captivating video pre-roll ads and interactive digital banners on top-performing travel websites and online travel agencies Offline we’re advertising in Alaska Airways in-flight publication and Portland Monthly magazine.

To create high-impact brand awareness, we’re wrapping one side of the TriMet light rail for two months, selecting routes that have high-income riders. Branded coffee sleeves along the selected light rail routes complement innovative mobile marketing and fully integrate with the Free Yourself in Tucson campaign.

In addition to Visit Tucson’s investment in developing a new and emerging market, Alaska Airlines is investing $150,000 to promote the nonstop service, as well. TAA, whose focus is educating and converting the local market to fly Tucson, is staying on message with It’s The Way To Go.

Travel is the new currency. Today’s competitive marketplace demands that Tucson’s business and tourism sectors demonstrate to all the TIA airlines that we’re committed to retaining and growing air service.

Allison Cooper is the Vice President of Marketing with Visit Tucson. Email her at acooper@visittucson.org.

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