[Skip to Content]

Destinations Council Destiny Awards FAQs

What are the Destinations Council Destiny Awards?

The Destiny Awards recognize U.S. Travel destination members for excellence and creative accomplishment in destination marketing and promotion at the local and regional level; and foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion programs and activities.

Who is eligible?

The Destiny Awards are open to all city, local and regional destination marketing organizations or CVB’s that are members of the U.S. Travel Association.

* Public relations, marketing and advertising agencies and other entities that work with DMOs/CVBs may submit entries on behalf of the organization; however, the president/CEO or Director of Marketing/CMO of the U.S. Travel member must send an email to estoawards@ustravel.org, authorizing the entry.

How much does it cost to enter?

A $125 fee must accompany each entry. If submitting multiple entries, please submit all applications and submit a single payment.

What are the deadlines?

Entries and payment must be submitted electronically by June 2019.

Campaigns launched in January 2018 must have concluded on or by May 31, 2019 to qualify for 2019 submission.

How many campaigns or categories can I enter?

Each DMO may submit entries to no more than five (5) categories. An organization may not submit the same entry into multiple categories. An organization may not submit multiple entries in the same category.

What are the categories for submission?
  1. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget Less Than $500,000
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  2. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget $500,000 to $1 million
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  3. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget $1 million to 2.5 million
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  4. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget $2.5 million to $5 million
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  5. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget $5 million to $10 million
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  6. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: Destination Marketing Budget More Than $10 million
    • Effective integration of two or more components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding destination marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  7. Destination Website
    • The entry should include descriptions of features such as mapping, search filters, user-personalization, etc. and the integration of a broad range of social media channels.
    • Creative implementation of the destination’s brand.
      • Visually pleasing, unique, captures the spirit of a destination and user-friendly.
    • Demonstrates technological innovation.
    • Results should include in addition to the number of unique visitors and bounce rate, time on site, signals of intent to travel.
    • Entries should only reflect a DMO or CVB’s official website, NOT a microsite or promotional site.

  8. Digital Campaign
    • Creative and innovative use of multiple digital marketing channels, including (but not limited to) website, digital ads, email marketing, social media, etc.
    • Originality and unique ideas considered.
    • Results should show success through web analytics, paid impressions, click through rates, social media growth, etc.

  9. International Marketing
    • Marketing efforts directed at one or more countries outside the U.S. and U.S. territories. It may include the following elements:
      • a. Identify lead creative piece
      • b. Consumer or trade focused
      • c. Include English synopsis of non-English materials.

  10. Niche Targeting
    • Marketing efforts directed to a specific type or category of travel, including but not limited to: cultural heritage tourism, agritourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, wildlife tourism, voluntourism, LGBT, culinary, girlfriend getaways, etc.
    • MEASUREMENT: Any/all of the above, depending on activation media used.

  11. Public Relations Campaign
    • Campaigns may be directed at niche markets or a general travel audience.
    • May also relate to special events, crisis management programs or overall tourism promotion.
    • Must focus on a single, unified theme.
    • Results should include: impressions, results, pick-up and social media (if applicable).

  12. Printed Collateral Materials
    • Entries can include, but are not limited to: print visitor guides, print advertising pieces, brochures, etc.
    • Entry should include information on media plan, targeting, audience and specific results.
    • Can be print or digital.
    • Metrics should include: print quantity, distribution and audience
    • Entries should include one (1) electronic version of your printed piece and at least one (1) high resolution image (.png or .jpg format).
    • If submitting printed guide please send 5 hard copies of your travel guide to accompany your entry to:

      U.S. Travel Association
      ATTN: ESTO Nora Thomas
      1100 New York Ave NW, Suite 450W
      Washington DC 20005

  13. Short-Term Marketing Campaign
    • Entry should be based on a seasonal, limited time campaign (4-6 week duration), multi–channel and event specific.

  14. Social Media Campaign
    • Creative use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Four Square, Pinterest, etc.
    • Creativity and appeal of visual components; brand consistency.
    • Originality considered; unique idea or approach.
    • Results should include analytics, performance against targets, dashboard data (e.g. geo-targeting, likes, top posts, re-tweets, pins, shares, growth over period or versus YAG), earned media and engagement level.

  15. Special Projects
    • Any marketing or creative project from a destination marketing organization that does not fit in any other category.
    • Projects may be, but are not limited to: development projects, advocacy campaigns, welcome center projects, employee training projects, socially/environmentally responsible efforts, short films, experiential, trade, B2B, etc.
    • Depending on the activation, results should be communicated with relevant and meaningful metrics.
      • *If applicable, should the category you enter into have less than three (3) entries by the submission close date, you may be asked to move your entry into another fitting category to remain in consideration for an ESTO award.
How should I format my entry?

Before submitting an entry, the following sections must be completed in its entirety:

Entry

  • Entry Title
  • Category (drop down box)
  • Entry Type (drop down box)

Program

  • Please indicate the time period for this project.
  • What was the problem was you were trying to fix? Or what was your opportunity?
  • Who is the target audience/market for this project?
  • Cost: Please indicate the cost or budget for this project. Entries in the Marketing Program categories should indicate the budget allocated for the promotion or program.
  • Please give a brief overall description of the program.

Solution

IDEA: Please enter your objectives for this project. Objectives must be clearly stated, specific, and measurable (what is to be achieved, by when, using what resources, etc.). This will aid judges in determining how well the stated results met the stated objectives.

STRATEGY: Describe the various elements of the program, activity, or campaign; techniques used.

TACTICS: Describe tactics undertaken and how they support the idea; creative steps taken; difficulties encountered. Identify and partners and their roles. Describe the methodology used to evaluate this campaign/project. Please explain measurements used in obtaining results to date.

RESULTS: Please state clearly the QUANTIFIED results achieved (i.e. percentage increase in visitors, inquires or website usage, market share compared to the previous period, reduced units cost, greater economic impact, etc.).

RESULTS MUST BE TIED TO THE IDEA. If specific, quantitative results are not available at the time of submission, you are advised to hold the project for submission in the following year’s competition. Entries lacking specific, quantifiable results will not be strongly considered.

Media Files

  • A maximum of 15 media files, 10 documents and 10 URL links for each submission.
  • All video entries must be 3 minutes or less.

*In the event that your entry is a category winner, each entry must include at least two (2) .jpg or .png files for display and presentation purposes.

How do judges determine the winners?

Judges will review the entry summaries on an individual basis to determine how well the entrant addressed the key elements described under the entry guidelines (i.e. were the objectives clearly stated? Do the stated results pertain to the stated objectives?) Remember, please be clear and concise. Less is more in this case and quality is more important than volume.

  • Please keep each criterion in mind when preparing your entry/entries.
    • Strategy: How well were objectives and tactics outlined?

    • Creativity: How inspired was the solution?
      • In project design, development, implementation, message delivery and originality, selection of media or promotional vehicle and use of visual or written material, etc.
    • Results: How well did it work?
      • Achieved in relation to the stated objectives. What was the return on investment? Results should be stated in measurable terms, (i.e. percentage increase over the previous year, actual numbers achieved versus projections stated in objectives, etc.).
    • Innovation: What was the one thing that makes this entry distinguish itself?
      • In approach, developing new markets, unconventional approaches to old markets, pioneering use of technology, etc.
When are the awards presented?

The winners of the 2019 Destiny Awards will be announced and recognized on Tuesday, August 20 at ESTO in Austin, Texas. Category finalists will be notified prior to ESTO as to the status of their entries. Award winners will be announced at the awards dinner.

Where are awards displayed afterwards?

U.S. Travel will feature an online awards display highlighting top entries from each award category following the closing night dinner at ESTO. The online awards display serves as an educational tool and aims to foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion, programs and activities. If you prefer that your entry/entries not be featured on the online awards display, please send an email to estoawards@ustravel.org, requesting this privacy.

NCSTD Mercury Awards FAQs

What are the NCSTD Mercury Awards?

The Mercury Awards recognize members for excellence and creative accomplishment in state/ territory destination marketing and promotion; and inspire, through showcasing outstanding work, the continued development of imaginative and exciting marketing and promotional programs

Who is eligible?

The Mercury Awards are open to all U.S. state and territory tourism offices that are members of the U.S. Travel Association.

*Public relations, marketing and advertising agencies and other entities that work with state tourism offices may submit entries on behalf of the organization; however, the president/CEO or Director of Marketing/CMO of the U.S. Travel member must send an email to estoawards@ustravel.org, authorizing the entry.

How much does it cost to enter?

$125 fee must accompany each entry. If submitting multiple entries, please submit all applications and submit a single payment

What are the deadlines?

Entries and payment must be submitted electronically by the June 2019.

Campaigns launched in January 2018 must have concluded on or by May 31, 2019 to qualify for 2019 submission.

How many campaigns or categories can I enter?

Each DMO may submit entries to no more than five (5) categories. An organization may not submit the same entry into multiple categories. An organization may not submit multiple entries in the same category.

What are the categories for submission?
  1. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: State Marketing Budget Less Than $10 million
    • Effective integration of at minimum two components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding state marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  2. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: State Marketing Budget $10 to 15 million
    • Effective integration of at minimum two components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding state marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  3. Branding and Integrated Marketing Campaign: State Marketing Budget More Than $15 million
    • Effective integration of at minimum two components of a marketing campaign.
    • Includes advertising, digital media, print, social etc. for an annual branding and marketing campaign.
    • Your entry must fall into the corresponding state marketing budget category, not the budget for the individual campaign.

  4. Broadcasting Advertising: Television
    • Entries should be a TV spot of 60 seconds or less.
    • 1 to 3 spots of a single campaign.
    • Upload spots in the Media Files tab in the entry form or provide URL links.
    • Results should address: How did you aid awareness? What was your media strategy? Who were you targeting?

  5. Industry and Strategic Partnerships
    • A marketing effort in which the entrant and another state/province, country, city, county, region, governmental agency, or private enterprise (commercial or non-profit) cooperate to promote travel.
    • Entrant has a principal role in developing, financing and/or executing the project.
    • Results should include clear statement of partnership goals; any/all results, depending on activation media used.
    • *Grant programs do not qualify unless the state is directly involved in the development and execution of the project.

  6. Digital Campaign
    • Creative and innovative use of multiple digital marketing channels, including (but not limited to) website, digital ads, email marketing, social media, etc.
    • Originality and unique ideas considered
    • Results should show success through web analytics, paid impressions, click through rates, social media growth, etc.

  7. International Marketing
    • Marketing efforts directed at one or more countries outside the U.S. and U.S. territories. It may include one of the following elements:
      • Identify lead creative piece
      • Consumer or trade focused
      • Include English synopsis of non-English materials.

  8. Niche Targeting
    • Marketing efforts directed to a specific type or category of travel, including but not limited to: cultural heritage tourism, agritourism, ecotourism, adventure tourism, wildlife tourism, voluntourism, LGBT, culinary, girlfriend getaways, etc.

  9. Public Relations Campaign
    • Campaigns may be directed at niche markets or a general travel audience.
    • May also relate to special events, crisis management programs or overall tourism promotion
    • Must focus on a single, unified theme.
    • Results should include: impressions, results, pick-up and social media (if applicable).

  10. Printed Collateral Materials
    • Entries can include, but are not limited to: print visitor guides, print advertising pieces, brochures, etc.
    • Metrics should include: print quantity, distribution and audience
    • Results should be communicated with relevant and meaningful metrics.
    • Entries should include one (1) electronic version of your printed piece and at least one (1) high resolution image (.png or .jpg format).
    • Send five (5) hard copies of your travel guide to accompany your entry to:

      U.S. Travel Association
      ATTN: ESTO Nora Thomas
      1100 New York Ave NW, Suite 450W
      Washington DC 20005

  11. Social Media Campaign
    • Creative use of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Four Square, Pinterest, etc.
    • Creativity and appeal of visual components; brand consistency.
    • Originality considered; unique idea or approach.
    • Results should include analytics, performance against targets, dashboard data (e.g. geo-targeting, likes, top posts, re-tweets, pins, shares, growth over period or versus YAG), earned media and engagement level.

  12. Special Projects
    • Any marketing or creative project from a destination marketing organization that does not fit in any other category.
    • Projects may be, but are not limited to: development projects, advocacy campaigns, welcome center projects, employee training projects, socially/environmentally responsible efforts, short films, experiential, trade, B2B, etc. Depending on the activation, results should be communicated with relevant and meaningful metrics.

  13. Travel Website
    • The entry should include descriptions of features such as mapping, search filters, user-personalization, etc. and the integration of a broad range of social media channels.
    • Creative implementation of the destination’s brand.
      • Visually pleasing, unique, captures the spirit of a destination and user-friendly.
    • Demonstrates technological innovation.
    • Results should include in addition to the number of unique visitors and bounce rate, time on site, signals of intent to travel.
    • Entries should only reflect a state’s official tourism website, NOT a microsite or promotional site.
How should I format my entry?

Before submitting an entry, the following sections must be completed in its entirety:

Entry

  • Entry Title
  • Category (drop down box)
  • Entry Type (drop down box)

Program

  • Please indicate the time period for this project.
  • What was the problem was you were trying to fix? Or what was your opportunity?
  • Who is the target audience/market for this project?
  • Cost: Please indicate the cost or budget for this project. Entries in the Marketing Program categories should indicate the budget allocated for the promotion or program.
  • Please give a brief overall description of the program.

Solution

IDEA: Please enter your objectives for this project. Objectives must be clearly stated, specific, and measurable (what is to be achieved, by when, using what resources, etc.). This will aid judges in determining how well the stated results met the stated objectives.

STRATEGY: Describe the various elements of the program, activity, or campaign; techniques used.

TACTICS: Describe tactics undertaken and how they support the idea; creative steps taken; difficulties encountered. Identify and partners and their roles. Describe the methodology used to evaluate this campaign/project. Please explain measurements used in obtaining results to date.

RESULTS: Please state clearly the QUANTIFIED results achieved (i.e. percentage increase in visitors, inquires or website usage, market share compared to the previous period, reduced units cost, greater economic impact, etc.).

RESULTS MUST BE TIED TO THE IDEA. If specific, quantitative results are not available at the time of submission, you are advised to hold the project for submission in the following year’s competition. Entries lacking specific, quantifiable results will not be strongly considered.

Media Files

  • A maximum of 15 media files, 10 documents and 10 url links for each submission.
  • All video entries must be 3 minutes or less.
  • In the event that an entry is declared a category winner, all entries must include at least one high resolution image in .png or .jpg format.
How do judges determine the winners?

Judges will review the entry summaries on an individual basis to determine how well the entrant addressed the key elements described under the entry guidelines (i.e. were the objectives clearly stated? Do the stated results pertain to the stated objectives?) Remember, please be clear and concise.

Less is more in this case and quality is more important than volume.

  • Please keep each criterion in mind when preparing your entry/entries.
    • Strategy: How well were objectives and tactics outlined?
    • Creativity: How inspired was the solution?
      • In project design, development, implementation, message delivery and originality, selection of media or promotional vehicle and use of visual or written material, etc.
    • Results: How well did it work?
      • Achieved in relation to the stated objectives. What was the return on investment? Results should be stated in measurable terms, (i.e. percentage increase over the previous year, actual numbers achieved versus projections stated in objectives, etc.).
    • Innovation: What was the one thing that makes this entry distinguish itself?
      • In approach, developing new markets, unconventional approaches to old markets, pioneering use of technology, etc.
When are the awards presented?

The winners of the 2019 Mercury Awards will be announced and recognized on Tuesday, August 20 at ESTO in Austin, Texas. Category finalists will be notified prior to ESTO as to the status of their entries. Award winners will be announced at the awards dinner.

Where are awards displayed afterwards?

U.S. Travel will feature an online awards display highlighting top entries from each award category following the closing night dinner at ESTO. The online awards display serves as an educational tool and aims to foster the development of imaginative and innovative destination marketing promotion, programs and activities. If you prefer that your entry/entries not be featured on the online awards display, please send an email to estoawards@ustravel.org, requesting this privacy.

Follow Us Twitter