National State Tourism Directors Mercury Awards > Travel Website
National State Tourism Directors Mercury Awards > Travel Website
Illinois Office of Tourism
About This Entry:
When the Illinois Office of Tourism commenced this project, we saw several opportunities to make our website better serve the needs of travelers:
1. Make the new site more nimble, cost-effective, and easy to update.
2. Create a more streamlined, stickier user experience.
3. Improve the quality of 10,000+ business listings.
4. Rework our digital content strategy.
5. Data capture was not fully used to its potential.
6. Our mobile site, while responsive, did not provide the best UX, leading to low numbers of mobile users.
7. Better integration of SEO into our content marketing.
Not so long ago, travel purchase decisions followed a linear process. Travelers arrived in their destination after extensive planning, with accommodation and transport already booked and activities scheduled.
These days, mobile has changed everything. Travelers use their phone to plan on the fly, sharing their adventures on social media as they go. How do you build a destination website for this new generation of digital travelers?
Enjoyillinois.com is a multi-faceted creative expression of the Amazing Illinois brand, optimized to capture data and personalize the digital experience to inspire travelers to spend more time in Illinois.
Our primary goal for enjoyillinois.com is to increase the number and length of overnight stays in Illinois. We do this by:
1. Turning day trips into overnight stays.
2. Turning overnight stays into multi-night stays.
3. Encouraging more Chicagoans to visit downstate Illinois.
Our specific goals are to:
• Increase number of overnight stays in Illinois 4.6% by March 1, 2018.
• Increase length of overnight stays in Illinois 3% by March 1, 2018.
1. Domestic visitors to Illinois
2. International visitors
3. Illinois natives—particularly Chicagoans—looking for weekend activities
4. Media and influencers seeking inspiration and information about Illinois
5. The travel trade
6. Illinois CVBs
7. Illinois tourism businesses
We used Illinois visitor research to create robust visitor personas, which guide our content and marketing strategy.
Please refer to pages 2- 8 of the Project Story for a more detailed description of strategy, objectives, and target audience.
Tactical features and Technological Innovation
Illinois visitors find things to do, places to stay, and places to eat and drink via thousands of local business and event listings. Our key tactic was to make these business listings easier to manage, more appealing visually, and stronger in organic search—helping make them a more powerful lead source for local business.
For listing tactics see Project Story page 9.
Better mobile experience
Over 60% of destination website traffic is mobile. Mobile users visit websites more frequently for shorter periods of time. Google calls these visits micro-moments. We’ve increased mobile traffic to the website 75.82% year-on-year.
For detailed mobile tactics see Project Story page 10.
Strong focus on data capture
A range of data-capture tactics have delivered a 447% increase in newsletter signups.
Re-engage visitors with e-marketing
We’ve reinvigorated Illinois e-marketing. Although Illinois had a sizable email list, it had been inactive for over two years—a high risk for spam filters.
To find out how we managed this risk see Project Story page 10.
CRM captures visitor interactions and personalizes their experience
Brands delivering the right experience, to the right visitor at the right time on the right device are winning increased engagement, loyalty, and revenue.
For CRM tactics see Project Story page 11.
Inspirational content is the cornerstone of the new site.
For a discussion of content strategy see Project Story page 13.
User Generated Content (UGC) created by visitors is powerful inspiration. Most destinations use UGC to create pretty Instagram feeds. We use UGC as actionable inspiration.
For UGC strategy see Project Story page 14.
Pinterest style itineraries
We help visitors plan their trip to Illinois. My Favorites bridges the gap between inspiration and social sharing. Users heart content, create itineraries, save, and share.
For itinerary building tactics see Project Story page 14.
We use monthly reporting to identify opportunities for improvement.
By geographic location
Content reach and engagement
Conversions demonstrating intent to travel:
Length of stay
New site launched March 1, 2017.
Increase in traffic
March 1–May 31, year-on-year comparison
• Sessions: 65.66% increase
• Users: 74.2% increase
• Organic traffic: 31% increase
• Mobile traffic: 75.82% increase
• Social media traffic: 80% increase (our agency took over social media management on May 1, 2017)
Increase in conversions demonstrating intent to travel
• Newsletter signups: 447% increase
• Magazine leads: 43% increase
• Travel Illinois magazine downloads: 52% increase
Increase in travelers and travel booking revenue
February 1–April 31 (ADARA data starts in February)
• Number of travelers: 46% increase
• Accommodation and flight bookings: 14.5% increase
• Accommodation booking revenue: 86.48% increase
• Total number of nights: 22.56% increase
Time on site has decreased and bounce rate has increased. However, we have seen 75.82% growth in mobile traffic, and an increase in bounce rate and reduction in time on site is entirely in line with mobile browsing habits as observed by Google. Our agency partner who manages numerous destination sites witnesses a similar time on site and bounce rate trends across all sites.
Why This Is A Finalist:
If this campaign resulted in the application alone—not even the website, social media, or ad campaigns featured within it—it would still be deserving of industry recognition. The scale of the effort, the creativity, attention to detail and commitment to problem-solving are all front-and-center in this initiative. These partners have done an outstanding job building out a suite of tools designed for specific audiences, and built to offer compelling ideas and the exact solutions necessary to succeed. The background research on Illinois’ visitors, target audiences, current trends and current behaviors is well articulated and organized. The tactics involved in the campaign website are best summed up as creating a seamless user experience. This website is extremely easy to navigate, and each content-rich article is as well-integrated into the overall site map, and indeed a dynamic map of the state of Illinois, as the next.
- Category Winner