Slow economy good for marketing Utah tourism | ParkRecord.com

Slow economy good for marketing Utah tourism

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

The slow economy has been great for promoting Utah’s brand to vacationers.

Ad space in the media is cheaper to buy and public relations strategies are succeeding in this "softer market."

"It’s not good that the dollar is so weak and the Euro is strong, but as a result, Europeans want to come here," said Leigh von der Esch, managing director for the Utah Office of Tourism.

Spots on MSNBC are 7 percent cheaper than last year, and the Fox News Channel is 15 percent less. Packaging is making it possible to reach 1,000 viewers of morning news shows for half the price of advertising in each regional market while reaching 13 percent more people, said the office’s media buyers at the meeting of the board on Thursday at the Capitol.

Marketing to Seattle markets was pulled at the last meeting due to budget restraints, but revolving billboard spots in Los Angeles are now more affordable. Magazine ads can now be negotiated even more competitively, said media buyer Jessica Defoe.

The challenge is timing. People are booking vacations less far in advance, meaning marketing too early is less effective. That can be a challenge with building brand image and memory recall, Defoe said.

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von der Esch said her counterparts across the country told her people are booking trips in shorter windows. Taking that into account, the board approved shifting the summer marketing campaign from March to April and continuing through Memorial Day.

Tracie Cayford, office deputy director, said 2008 was a "banner year" for publicity in the United Kingdom.

Television crews including Globe Trekker and the UK Travel Channel filmed in Park City for shows featuring resorts and national parks.

A well-known travel writer released a book about the United States and placed a photograph from Utah on the cover and wrote about the state, she said.

Park City industry experts were quoted eight times in national newspapers like the New York Times. These and other mentions in the national and international media had a marketing value of around $8 million, she said.

"Nationally, we’ve been more aggressive this year than ever, and we’ve had more funding to do it," Cayford said.

Bill Marolt, CEO of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, also gave a presentation on the progress of the soon-to-be-completed Center of Excellence at Quinn’s Junction.

"It’s evidence of our goal to ‘raise the bar,’ prompt more athletes to move here and take advantage of the facilities left after the 2002 Winter Games," Marolt said.