Comparing 2004 and 2005 data from August through November, known as the shoulder season in the visitor industry, showed an increase in tourism tax deposits of 7 percent, an increase in the Office of Tourism's share of the Deadwood gaming tax of nearly 5 percent, and a 27 percent increase in visits to Tourism's consumer Web site, TravelSD.com.
"The Office of Tourism's 2005 shoulder season campaign can be characterized as more, more and more. More marketing dollars were invested in more advertising media to get the South Dakota message in front of more consumers," said Billie Jo Waara, Office of Tourism director. "We were able to focus new energy and investment in our shoulder season marketing campaign, following the plan outlined in the 2010 Initiative."
The Office of Tourism expanded marketing efforts into Chicago and advertised in new magazines, Cottage Living and Travel 50 and Beyond. An extensive e-commerce program that included a search word campaign on Google and Yahoo was also implemented as well as a new hunting and fishing commercial that aired on ESPN2, Outdoor Life Network and Fox Sports Net North. A direct mail piece to more than 28,000 potential hunters and a revamp of the hunting and fishing sections of TravelSD.com were also part of the campaign.
Two major print co-operative marketing programs received an image update for shoulder season promotions. The Giant Step magazine insert had a circulation of 1.8 million reaching subscribers of Better Homes and Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Country Home, Midwest Living and More in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and new market, Kansas City, MO.
The Great Getaways newspaper insert was also launched in key cities like Des Moines, Omaha, Sioux City and Sioux Falls, reaching 874,000 subscribers. Vacation packages were the theme for newspaper and television ads placed in Denver, Des Moines, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Omaha, Sioux City and Sioux Falls, as well as northwest Iowa and southwest Minnesota. In all, 78 different vacation packages were featured in 219 ads in 17 newspapers and on 17 cable television networks from August through mid-October.
Also for the shoulder season, traceable earned media efforts increased. In 2005, articles about South Dakota in non-paid media, from August through November had an ad equivalency of more than $972,000 compared to $777,000 in 2004.
2005 visitor spending totals will be announced at the 2006 Governor's Conference on Tourism, Jan. 18-19 in Pierre. The shoulder season campaign is one component of the 2010 Initiative, which includes doubling visitor spending to $1.2 billion by 2010.