Caution, Care and Continuing to Connect: A Conversation with Discover The Palm Beaches
As we move towards recovery, we at Bound are here to help through every step of the process. Our new series highlights ways that our clients continue to connect with their audience – both locals and visitors – and their approach to destination marketing during this time.
For this next installment of our series, we’ll explore how Discover The Palm Beaches, FL has successfully created new and engaging types of content while planning for the future. Heather Andrews, Associate Vice President of Content & Community Engagement for DTPB, shared that, like many destinations, they are “re-evaluating what the future of travel will be in our destination and finding new ways to measure engagement as we move into our first phase of recovery.” The DTPB team has had great initial success by continuing to utilize audience segmentation along with A/B tests to make sure that their messaging during these times is the right one for each market.
First Response Banner
Like most DMOs, the first response from The Palm Beaches team was to add a COVID-19 informational page and use a sitewide banner to alert both locals and potential visitors to changes. Unlike most DMOs, while the COVID-specific information was new, the routine was familiar. In the past, DTPB has utilized sitewide banners during hurricane season to communicate hurricane warnings along with ‘all clear’ messaging.
Same Audiences, New Content
The Palm Beaches team was also already in the habit of speaking to their local, drive, and fly markets separately. However, with the start of travel restrictions, they updated their homepage content to move the focus away from hotel stays and events and more toward locally relevant updates. Andrews shared:
“For several weeks our content plan focused on informing locals, but now we’re getting back to speaking to our drive markets and eventually re-engaging our traditional fly markets.”
The Palm Beaches team also collaborated with their partners as they looked at the new types of content they could showcase during this time. With the new content, “we’re featuring partners offering relevant services such as essential lodging to front-line workers and restaurants offering takeout and delivery, and helping them communicate how visitors can feel safe and healthy once they return,” Andrews shared.
Working with their Miles Partnership team, DTPB rolled out four new types of homepage hero content:
- Highlighting takeout & delivery options
- Focusing on local heroes and acts of kindness
- Promoting virtual experiences
- Targeting families with virtual learning opportunities
They strategically split this content between different audiences, using the takeout and ‘local heroes’ content for the In Market, ‘local heroes’ and virtual Palm Beaches content for key Drive Market cities, and both the general virtual Palm Beaches and learning-focused virtual content for their Fly Market.
The team also worked to push out more new blog content. While new blog content shows beneath the homepage hero in the now trending section, they also used personalization to set the first suggested blog post per market, with locals and the drive market rotating between a hiking blog post and outdoors Instagram spots blog post, and the fly market seeing a virtual visit blog post and an inner mixologist blog post.
As Andrews summarized, “ThePalmBeaches.com has always been a source of inspiration and information for travelers. During these unprecedented times we were highlighting content like virtual learning experiences and locals who have stepped up to support the community, in addition to showcasing the beaches and outdoor activities we’re known for. We also shared cocktail recipes from local hotels and restaurants to showcase the flavor of The Palm Beaches.”
Continued Focus on Testing
Historically, the Palm Beaches team has heavily utilized A/B testing to inform both their marketing strategy for specific audiences as well as website design. They continued this approach for their new hero content – monitoring both the engagement from each segment on the different types of content as well as testing two versions of copy for each type. Within the first month they were already noting very interesting trends.
For the local market, the ‘local heroes’ content had the best engagement by far, whereas the delivery content varied significantly based on the copy. Alternatively the drive market overall had lower engagement on the Palm Beaches heroes content than the virtual visits content. However, this varied by city, with certain markets seeing the highest engagement on the ‘local heroes’ content. The fly market also had the best engagement on the general virtual visits content but for most cities there was only a slight increase in engagement compared to the learning-focused virtual content. Similar to the drive market though, there was a significant difference per city, along with significantly lower engagement for key fly market cities for the copy that focused on “family friendly.”
The team has already made optimizations for many of their markets based on these initial results and will continue to use test data to inform new content and strategies. Andrews noted that they are continuing their close work with partners for new content, and plan to “develop special offers to attract travelers back to The Palm Beaches.”
When asked if she thought the role of the DMO had changed, Andrews agreed:
“Now more than ever, the DMO will be tasked with being a leader in the local community to help drive economic recovery. So beyond the realm of traditional marketing and advertising, we will be looking to pull our community back towards more prosperous times.”
Andrews shared some of their plans on how they will do so: “We will be focusing on our strengths as a destination and what we know people will be looking for. Beaches and outdoor recreation are what people will be looking for and we are posed to be a primary place for people to visit in the future. Our content will be focused on these activities and showing how we take health and safety very seriously here in The Palm Beaches.”
But while the road to recovery may be long, Andrews has been inspired by the kindness and support they are seeing in their community: “People are kind and people want to help. Our industry has been hit hard and it is the small acts of kindness that mean the most. The local restaurateur who had to close all his restaurants and lay off all his workers rallied the community to provide daily food distribution and groceries for local hospitality workers who lost their jobs. Our local Four Seasons created a drive-through meal distribution to support their employees and other hospitality workers in the community. Knowing how much people care and went out of their way to help one another has been so encouraging. It helps keep me motivated that we have to work hard as an organization for these people and support our community in more inventive and creative ways as we move into recovery.”