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How DMO Visit Omaha attracted out-of-town visitors during off-season

Visit Omaha wanted to reach visitors during the city’s offseason and attract them to the area. Epsilon helped to evaluate their traditional audience markets and serve eye-catching creative to boost visitation during winter months, resulting in a strong revenue and community impact from over 14,500 new tourists. Let's see how they did it. 

Proving the effectiveness of DMO advertising

Visit Omaha is the official destination marketing organization of Omaha, Nebraska. Situated on the Missouri River, the state’s largest city is home to beloved events such as the NCAA Men’s College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials.

Demonstrating measurable results to share with community stakeholders is a key to success for destination marketing organizations (DMOs) like Visit Omaha. But it’s not easy because DMOs market to an experience, and often don’t have access to transactional data. Deborah Ward, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Visit Omaha explains, “One of our biggest challenges is determining how effective our advertising is in bringing people into our destination.”

Visit Omaha also wanted to understand if they were targeting the right people in the right markets, and if there were untapped markets they should consider. And once visitors arrived, to accurately measure their impact on the community’s revenue streams.

Visit Omaha_Audiogram

 

Visit Omaha selected Epsilon as its digital media partner. We decided on a year-round campaign that started in January, allowing the winter months to serve as a test and learn period. We worked together to determine the best strategy for reaching individuals with the highest probability of choosing Omaha as their next winter getaway. This included assessing and analyzing the best “drive markets” (locations from which Omaha is within reasonable driving distance) like Kansas City, Des Moines and Sioux Falls.

Epsilon visited the team in Omaha in order to better understand the city and its attractions. This resulted in meaningful, eye-catching in-house creative that truly showcased Omaha’s best assets. “We really appreciate that the team came and visited. It was extremely helpful for the creative process and relationship building,” Deb noted.

Top-notch display showcases the vibrant city

When it came time for campaign activation, we modelled high-yielding past visitors and current traveler sentiment, serving them top-notch creative display, mobile rich media, and personalized pre-roll video ads. We then measured the amount of money spent in market by users targeted by the Visit Omaha messaging.

Epsilon’s Net Economic Impact (NEI) Solution was especially helpful for Visit Omaha once those tourists arrived in town. Deb says, “We liked the Net Economic Impact solution because it tracked who saw our ads, and if they visited our city and spent money.” NEI goes beyond analyzing hotel and airline bookings alone, and provides a full understanding of which digital marketing works best in each market, and how much visitors spend across key categories like restaurants, shops, gas stations and more, which they could then report back to city officials.

"We liked the Net Economic Impact solution because it tracked who saw our ads, and if they visited our city and spent money.” —Deborah Ward, Vice President of Marketing & Communications for Visit Omaha

Real results and measurable outcomes

Working with Epsilon, Visit Omaha was able to drive ~14,500 visitors to the area during the “slow” season of January through March. Not only did the campaign attract new visitors, Visit Omaha was able to influence and measure $5.4 million in spend, culminating in a $84:1 total return on ad spend (ROAS). When asked about how these results met her expectation, Deb replied, “We honestly were not expecting much at all. We have a Midwest winter, and it’s not our peak season. The results really surpassed our hopes for that reason.”

Epsilon’s 200M+ consumer profiles and rich reservoir of transaction-based data enabled Visit Omaha to reach the right customers most likely to visit the area. And they can pivot as needed, which has been especially important in the COVID-19 environment. According to Deb, “With Epsilon we can be nimble and very flexible in our messaging.” Because Visit Omaha was able to accurately identify customers across online and offline channels, we could break down tourist spend by category. “The NEI solution was great because we could talk to our city stakeholder folks a bit easier, and give them an ROI. They understand impact more when it is tied to revenue.”

While attracting new visitors to an area during the “slow” season presents its own set of unique challenges, Epsilon and Visit Omaha were able to forge a unique strategy that better identified and tracked customers, while proving real-world revenue impact on their beloved city. And the learnings they gained allowed Visit Omaha to understand return by feeder market, category spend, and visitor spend by zip code, providing them the ability to plan media that will drive specific outcomes in the future.