Working with shrinking funding, and seeking to maintain continuity in the message, the state agency responsible for promoting Michigan’s $15 billion tourism industry will match local funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis only when its own creative elements are used for ads and marketing materials.
For tourism partnerships where the local travel bureau controls the creative work — such as the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Michigan’s West Coast campaign — the state will match funding on a one-for-two basis, with the state providing $1 for every $2 in local funding.
The change in the funding formula for 2004 is due in part to the fiscal crunch the state faces, as well as a need to assure continuity in print and broadcast ads so that the expenditure of state money generates benefits both statewide and for the partnering travel bureaus.
“Our job is to benefit the entire state while at the same time mutually benefiting our partners,” said Dave Lorenz, managing director of Travel Michigan.
“It’s just good marketing sense and maximizing efficiency of your advertising dollars,” Lorenz said. “In this scenario, everybody wins.”
Travel Michigan began forming the promotion partnerships with local travel bureaus in 2002 to leverage advertising dollars. The agency spent $838,643 in state money in 2003 via 10 partnerships. When matched and leveraged with equal funding from the private sector, Travel Michigan was able to mount a $1.6 million dollar campaign to steer out-of-state travelers to partnering communities throughout Michigan.
In 2004, Travel Michigan is looking at forming 11 or 12 partnerships and has earmarked about $800,000 in state money for those alliances. Among the promotions renewing for 2004 are Beachtowns, a campaign started two years ago and involving several Lake Michigan communities including Muskegon, Grand Haven, Holland and Saugatuck, and Michigan’s West Coast, which will see its state-funding share reduced as a result of the change in the funding formula.
West Coast organizers opted to use their own creative elements for the regional campaign, designed to promote West Michigan as a vacation and convention destination, in order to maintain the campaign’s own continuity, rather than “being a tagline on the end of Travel Michigan’s ad,” Grand Rapids/Kent County CVB President Steve Wilson said.
“We’re launching an identity. It’s crucial we have control over the creative,” Wilson said.
Based on the data from the campaign’s inaugural year, Wilson is satisfied that West Coast is working as intended.
“It’s resonated in the marketplace. It’s become a recognizable brand,” he said.
The $200,000 Beachtowns campaign, which received $100,000 in state funding, was the most cost effective of the 10 partnerships formed for 2003 and generated the most Internet “click-throughs” from Travel Michigan’s Web site (www.michigan.org).
The Beachtowns Web site drew 191,334 visitors who followed a link from Travel Michigan’s site between May 1 and Oct. 31. That equates to a cost per inquiry of 52 cents for the campaign, which marketed shoreline communities to travelers in Chicago and Indianapolis.
“This has been an excellent investment for our community. For $10,000 we’ve been able to tap into the buying power of a $200,000 ad campaign,” stated a joint news release from directors at lakeshore visitors bureaus participating in Beachtowns.
Michigan’s West Coast, which received $189,237 in state funding, came in third among the 10 partners in Internet activity, behind Mackinac Island, recording 72,973 click-throughs from May 1 to Oct. 31, for a cost per inquiry of $2.59, according to an analysis provided by Travel Michigan.