2019 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Marketing Plan & Budget
2019 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Marketing Plan & Budget
We were prepared for a down year in 2018, perhaps even a difficult one, due to the fact that we were not hosting Outdoor Retailer—our largest single client—for the first time in 22 years. However, the Visit Salt Lake team and Salt Lake’s hospitality community as a whole showed its exceptional ability to quickly react and adapt to the evolution of the market, turning a lackluster forecast into not only a good year, but potentially another record year.
This agile and nimble nature serves our community well as our market continues to evolve. To ensure the continued long-term success of Salt Lake’s meeting, convention and leisure travel industry, the Visit Salt Lake team is focusing on three primary strategic initiatives in 2019: the implementation of Blueprint Salt Lake, a comprehensive “re-imagination” and redesign of the Salt Palace Visitor Center (downtown Salt Lake’s “community living room”) and the establishment of the Salt Lake Sports Alliance.
Though these three critical initiatives are at the forefront of our 2019 efforts, rest assured we will remain vigilant to the ever-changing landscape of our industry, adapting and acting accordingly to take full advantage of the opportunities presented. As 2018 is proving, the ability to quickly react is in our nature.
The year ahead promises to again be an exciting time throughout our community. Visit Salt Lake will continue to proactively create opportunities on behalf of our hospitality community, and react accordingly when required, to ensure our collective long-term success.
Blueprint Salt Lake was commissioned to recommend and launch core strategies that introduce a new narrative for Salt Lake. It’s designed to help replace existing perception barriers to attracting talent, investment capital and business events with an authentic and compelling Salt Lake narrative pathway to prosperity for the region.
With the analytical and empirical explorations completed, it is time to move towards implementation of the narrative story and to activate the recommended strategies. These strategies present Salt Lake’s new reality - a progressive, global innovation hub with a high quality of community life anchored by compelling “humankindness” values.
Employing the services of the firm that led the redesign of the Broadway Cinemas’ lobby, Visit Salt Lake is embarking on a comprehensive “re-imagination” and complete redesign of the Visitor Center at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Having served its purpose for the past few decades, VSL plans to turn this essential space into the “community living room of downtown Salt Lake,” a warm and welcoming environment that reflects a direct connection to our stunning natural environment, technology and the ever-evolving art and culture community that epitomizes Salt Lake’s urban core. The Visitor Center redesign is anything but a knock-off of another DMOs welcome center; it will represent a truly new direction in terms of retail offerings, welcoming, assisting and serving visitors and locals alike to our community.
We gleaned from hosting the recent Connect Marketplace that the growth of the sports market is exploding, and that Salt Lake’s unique mix of sporting facilities and services throughout the County are incredibly desirable. With affirmation and validation from our successful hosting of Connect, we intend to launch the Salt Lake Sports Alliance in 2019 to further engage the use of Salt Lake’s two convention facilities and the infrastructure of the many other sporting facilities in and around the Salt Lake Valley. VSL’s target audience in the sports market are not the statewide events, but rather those of the youth and amateur tournament variety, as they tend to attract not only the scores of teams and their respective participants but also a sizable contingent of support (family, friends, etc.), which equates to a greater economic impact to Salt Lake County.
As Salt Lake County's official destination marketing organization, Visit Salt Lake is responsible for generating a sizeable portion of our community's visitor revenue largely through the solicitation and booking of city wide conventions, bringing delegates and their spending into our community. One of Visit Salt Lake’s most impactful priorities in 2019 is $400,000,000 generated by new visitors attending meetings and conventions in Salt Lake County.
VSL works with County representatives to ensure its activities are supporting the County's economic priorities as effectively as possible. From the small-business owner to the state capitol, strategic alignment is crucial to the continued health of our region's economy, and VSL is devoted to its role in this symbiotic system.
The Sales team at Visit Salt Lake has stepped up efforts to attract new meetings, conventions, athletic events, and other clients, and you can see a difference in the building. The Salt Palace has been buzzing all year, and we’re looking forward to even more events and clients in the years to come with a 2019 total room night booking goal of 781,038 room nights—a 3% increase over the 2018 actual production.
Visit Salt Lake’s Sales team is committed to aggressive sales efforts to book new conventions, meetings and athletic events to the Salt Lake market, and retain existing business through a proactive client-focused retention program, to generate economic impact from direct delegate spending. The team will conduct 50 personal targeted sale trips and 130 site inspections to meet this goal. To further leverage the success of the Connect Marketplace, the top 70 attendants will be contacted by our sales team a minimum of three times in 2019. Also, each sales director will make a minimum of 104 prospecting actions, and each EMM and national sales manager will make a minimum of 240 prospecting actions.
Visit Salt Lake’s Services team will continue to maintain our consistently high level of customer satisfaction and client interaction, thereby benefiting the planner, the attendees, and Visit Salt Lake members, making it easier to retain our high value clients, and enhance the positive perception about Salt Lake as a destination. By rolling out the red carpet and helping with Services pre- and post-event, our team has instilled a level of client catering and personal touch unparalleled in the industry.
To ensure success in Services, Visit Salt Lake’s team will maintain an average Post Event Customer Satisfaction Survey score of 4.8 or higher (of a possible score of 5). The team will strive to achieve the Meetings and Conventions Gold Service Award for the 25th year, and maintain membership in the M&C Gold Award Hall of Fame. Additionally, social media will be leveraged to target and build attendance for city-wide groups with a 70% adoption rate. To top it off, quarterly outreach events to regional repeat clients will be conducted.
Increasing awareness about Salt Lake is our goal, and we will support Sales efforts by leveraging innovative approaches to generating influence and interest in our destination. Our website is our hardest working employee, and Visit Salt Lake’s content strategy, communication efforts and social media leverage are all supporting our virtual home. In addition to updating our sites aesthetically to mirror the feel of our burgeoning urban city, Visit Salt Lake has employed cutting-edge best practices for the changing online environment. Our new sites are already seeing increased traffic—which is what increasing awareness is all about. As a high tide rises all boats, our Earned Media efforts have been rewarded, and will continue to grow. Also, our Tourism Sale efforts will continue with product developments that enhance client stays and engender repeat bookings.
To achieve our marketing mission of increasing awareness, Visit Salt Lake’s Marketing team has committed to generating $14.7 million worth of positive earned media between Visit Salt Lake and Ski City. 8 New content articles will be created monthly, with a goal of increasing website traffic by 10% YoY more than 2.7 million total visits to the site across mobile, main, and booking sites. The email database will also be grown by 10% to meet these goals, with an additional goal of increasing Super Pass sales by 10% YoY. To support all these efforts, Tourism Sales will host 12 familiarization tours, and we’ll attend 5 targeted trade shows to reinforce the message and to gain new clients.
Partnership Development’s mission is to extend and expand Visit Salt Lake’s presence and value in the local market, thereby benefitting the meeting planner, the convention attendee, the visitor and Visit Salt Lake members. Our Partnership Development team makes it easier to retain current clients and increase the positive perception about Salt Lake as a destination for meetings, conventions and leisure travelers.
In order to achieve its 2019 goals, the Partner Development team will complete more than 250 prospecting actions to potential members. It will also produce a host of member events including Board of Trustees / Membership meetings and Member Connections, where members and Visit Salt Lake staff can socialize and network. Bi-annual educational seminars and monthly training sessions will also be offered to help members understand and utilize all the marketing tools that are provided and available to them. Additionally, we will leverage the listings tools and ad placements on our website to increase the quality and number of marketing tools for members, including extensive content, and new website advertising opportunities.
Salt Lake County funds Visit Salt Lake’s (VSL) sales and marketing programs under a contract for services. The county’s funding for this contract comes from transient room taxes (TRT) on hotel room revenues in Salt Lake County. As such, the level of funding for VSL varies each year depending largely on hotel room revenues. Hotel revenues in Salt Lake County in calendar year 2018 are expected to exceed calendar year 2017 by over 5.2%, and management anticipates 2019 will increase an additional 3.8% ahead of 2018. Those funds will be available to VSL’s long term commitments to sales and marketing programs.
In order to put our TRT dollars to work for our community, management has proposed a total budget to be funded by Salt Lake County of $12,176,639, a 16.2% increase over the 2018 budget. This amount includes $11,726,639 in funding from TRT (17% more than in 2017) and an additional $450,000 from a Tourism Transient Room Tax on county hotels. Support for ongoing programs will include $250,000 from the Utah Office of Tourism’s (UOT) Co-operative Marketing Program to advance Ski City in the 2018/2019 ski season, and additional Partnerships with Salt Lake’s hotels and hospitality companies such as Delta Air Lines, but more importantly, the enthusiastic participation of an entire community.
Visit Salt Lake is a private, non-profit corporation responsible for the promotion of Salt Lake as a convention and travel destination. In partnership with Salt Lake County, Visit Salt Lake improves the area economy by attracting and providing support to conventions, leisure travelers, and visitors with a strong commitment to sustainability and stewardship of the area’s natural environment.