5 Ways Visit Philly is Crushing Tourism Marketing with Content

Visit Philly

We’d like to take a moment to give credit where credit is due and recognize an industry leader in our field: Visit Philadelphia (formerly GPTMC). Before most destinations even had a blog,Visit Philadelphia had a team of experts writing engaging, relevant and valuable content about our beloved city of Philadelphia, making their sites—VisitPhilly.com and Uwishunu.com—powerhouses of searchable and shareable resources. Philadelphia’s success with destination content marketing has been so impressive that the industry has taken notice.

1. They Don’t Do It Alone, They Work As A Team

Teamwork = Content Dreamwork

How do they do it? It all starts with a great team. Bios on VisitPhilly.com showcase Paula Butler, Vice President of Communications at VISIT PHILADELPHIA®, who has led the Visit Philadelphia communications team since 2012. The team has won more than 50 industry awards in media relations, content development and social media.

Visit Philly

Part of that trailblazing communications team is Caroline Bean, Director of Social Media. Bean and her team have won numerous accolades, and she has shared her insights with audiences at the U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference, BlogWorld, Travel Blogger Exchange (TBEX), the annual convention of Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI) and the Social Media Tourism Symposium (SoMeT).

But they don’t do it alone. In December 2013, DestinationMarketing.org’s Jeremy Fairley interviewed Bean about her marketing strategy. “Content, as in words, pictures and video, is indeed a team effort. Since its start 17 years ago, Visit Philadelphia has invested in writers for all types of content (web, press, collateral) and in a group of talented photographers, both staff and freelance,” Bean told him.

2. They’re Recognized by Their Industry Peers

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. International industry professionals and media outlets have praised the marketing success of the great city of Philadelphia.

Visit Philly 3

In a 2013 article titled “VisitPhilly.com: With 21M+ Hits, Philly Has the Most Visited Destination Site,Technical.ly noted: “Philly has the most visited destination site. The online home of [Visit Philadelphia] topped a Quantcast list of the most-trafficked destination sites for the country’s ten largest cities.” Quantcast reported: “Out of the 10 largest cities in the United States, Philadelphia has the most visited destination website network in visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com.” (Source: Visit Philadelphia)

3. Valuable Content Fuels Their Social Media Strategy

Create great content, and successful social media will follow. In her DestinationMarketing.org interview with Jeremy Fairley, Bean shared more about her marketing strategy, offering valuable insight that highlights the power of content marketing for destinations: “Though we drive most Facebook posts back to our websites, those sites result in conversions. In 2013, visitphilly.com and uwishunu.com sent 1.8 million visits to partner websites.”

She continued: “All of this content—web pages, blog posts, itineraries, press releases, videos, photos and graphics—is the fuel for our social media marketing. Having a blog that posts five to six times a day means we (the social media people) can work on engaging with fans rather than struggling to find content.”

Visit Philly 4

Check out the full interview here: Mastering Facebook Marketing: A Conversation with Caroline Bean of VisitPhilly.com (Part 1)

4. Their Impressive Metrics Prove Their Success

Now let’s talk numbers. We recently ran across a Visit Philadelphia presentation, titled “Telling Your Story in a Changing Digital Landscape,” on the Maine Tourism Conference website. This slide deck shares some valuable data that showcase the success of content for destinations.

Here’s a look at Visit Philadelphia’s massive site traffic growth over a two-year time frame:

2012 Web Review

5. They Know What Their Readers Want

People love culinary content, and Visit Philly is well aware of this.  In fact visitphilly.com’s food and dining content is ranked in the top three areas of interest for site visitors, as seen in the table below (also from the Visit Philadelphia presentation).

Visit philly popular content

Trend Alert: Culinary content is not just popular for Philadelphia site visitors; it’s an industry-wide trend. A study by Mandala Research, publisher of the 2013 American Culinary Traveler Report, showed, “Three-quarters of all leisure travelers (77%, representing 131 million Americans) can be classified as Culinary travelers, having participated in the specified culinary activities within the past three years. About half of all leisure travelers travel to learn about or enjoy unique and memorable eating and drinking experiences (51%), a notable gain from 2006 (when 40% said they traveled for these reasons). Culinary travelers overall (62%), and Deliberates (87%) and Opportunistics (77%) in particular, are especially likely to travel for unique and memorable culinary experiences.”

A University of Florida 2013 report entitled “A Flash of Culinary Tourism estimates that “39 million U.S. leisure travelers choose a destination based on the availability of culinary activities, while another 35 million seek out culinary activities after a destination is decided upon.”

Skift.com futher researched this study and compiled the table below on how consumers are making decisions based on a destination’s food. The screenshot is taken directly from a Skift report titled “The Rise of Culinary Tourism”:

skift table

In Summary, They’re Awesome

(and so is Destination Content)

The success of Visit Philadelphia tells us that it’s imperative that destinations and travel industry sectors capitalize on creating valuable content as part of an overall marketing strategy. Take an in-depth look at Uwishunu.com and how VisitPhilly.com leveraged this platform to further enhance content strategy in “Telling Your Story in a Changing Digital Landscape,” the presentation mentioned above—in particular, the breakdown of how much content was shared and what actions resulted from creating and sharing content.

Visit Philly

Given Visit Philadelphia’s success, we’re sure you agree: creating great content is integral to your marketing efforts. But where can you start? Learn more about what content is and how it can help your marketing strategy in this Content 101 article. For tips on creating an editorial calendar, check out 7 Tips to Creating a Flawless Editorial Calendar.

At Dish Works we proudly create culinary content for a variety of tourism destinations to help with their overall marketing strategy. Our partnerships with destinations and travel industry leaders like Harrisburg Hershey, Destination Gettysburg, Southwest Airlines and West Chester Business Improvement District have proven to contribute to increased site traffic and help with brand awareness.

Still need help? Dish Works’ team of professional writers and photographers has helped businesses both large and small tell the world just what makes them special. We’ll develop and execute an editorial plan that works for you, based on your goals, audience, timeframe and resources. We’d love to help—contact us!

Top photo by J. Fusco for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®; second, third and fourth photos by B. Krist for Visit Philadelphia™; bottom photo by R. Kennedy for VISIT PHILADELPHIA®