Utah represented at World Travel Markets | ParkRecord.com

Utah represented at World Travel Markets

Amanda Tust Of the Record staff

In its representation at the World Travel Market in London last month, Leigh von der Esch, Utah Office of Tourism director, said Utah promoted the "hybrid" traveler. She said "hybrid" guests ski or mountain bike hard during the day and then kick back at a world-class spa or enjoy dining at a five-star restaurant at night. Von der Esch said this was the first travel market where Utah produced a video and became actively involved in the event. Utah gave away two tickets to opening night of this year’s Sundance Film Festival in a raffle at the British Travel Writer’s Guild dinner and auctioned off a Utah vacation at the Captains of Industry luncheon event. Von der Esch said the video promoted the "greatest snow on earth" and outdoor activities along with nightlife, festivals, ballets, symphonies, museums and paleontology. "We could show visuals of the state that have never been shown at that level before," she said. The World Travel Market in London includes booths from countries, provinces and states throughout the world and is one of two annual events of its kind. The next large-scale World Travel Market will be held in March in Berlin. Von der Esch said when she attended the annual Berlin travel market last spring, Utah had a puny table next to Arizona’s 40-foot high display and New Mexico’s vibrant images that took up five times more space than Utah’s booth. With the $10 million this year and $9 million next year appropriated by the Utah Legislature to promote and market Utah, von der Esch said Utah can now be competitively represented at the travel markets. "Our hopes and our goals are to increase the spending of the visitors that come into the state because we let them know all of the product that Utah has to offer," she said. Von der Esch said Utah traditionally spent $900,000 per year on advertising, an amount she said Vail, Colo. spends on summer advertising alone. She added that Utah formerly ranked 45th in the nation in money spent on state advertising and with the money from the ‘tourism bill’ now will rank in the top 15. "We are hoping because this is a performance-based bill, that we will have as much or more every year to continue advertising the state," von der Esch said. As part of Utah’s tourism marketing mission, the state recently conducted focus group surveys after Thanksgiving in New Jersey, Chicago, Ill., Irvine, Calif, Salt Lake City and London. The surveys were video taped and concentrate on why people travel and what the look for when they plan trips. The focus groups were broken up into 25- to 45-year-old and a 45- to 60-year-old categories. Von der Esch said the results will be presented to the Utah Board of Tourism meeting on Dec. 22. Based on the focus group results and previous state surveying, a Utah ‘branding’ message and advertising plan for the next year will be presented to the Utah Board of Tourism in January. The brand will be formally announced and launched in February.