Written by Steven Keith
Wednesday, 06 March 2013 00:00
ROSEMONT — During her “State of the State of Tourism” address at the Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism in Rosemont last week, Illinois Office of Tourism Director Jen Hoelzele explained how her agency is trying to attract more international consumers to the state.
Illinois has spent money in the United Kingdom and Germany on ads playing in theaters before the Oscar-winning movie “Lincoln,” and partnered with a federally-funded travel group that promotes the United States abroad in an effort to attract more international tourists to the state.
The State of Illinois paid $115,000 for a six-week run of a 30-second commercial for Illinois tourism before the movie “Lincoln” played in theaters in the United Kingdom and Germany. The commercial urged potential travelers to “discover Lincoln in the land he called home.” When “Lincoln” opened in the United Kingdom, Illinois had a Lincoln impersonator give away movie tickets.
“We know that that international market is interested in us,” said Hoelzle. “The opportunity is there, but we just need to get Illinois in front of the international consumer.”
Illinois Office of Tourism recently entered into a public-private partnership with Brand USA, also known as the Corporation for Travel Promotion, which formed as a result of the Travel Promotion Act of 2010. The Travel Promotion Act of 2010 is the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the United States as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures.
With a $54 million annual budget, the Illinois Office of Tourism has pooled marketing money with Brand USA to buy advertisements and other promotions overseas. Illinois already has started reaching out to international audiences in Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. They will start advertising in Japan later this year.
“We’re able to invest our resources together and in doing so we’re able to increase their buying power,” said Brand USA President and CEO Chris Thompson.
Illinois had 1.25 million overseas visitors in 2011, up slightly from 1.18 million in 2010 and 1.16 million in 2009.
“That’s great, but I think we can do so much better,” said Hoelzle. “We are just ripe for overseas visitors. They love these options that are in Chicago, which is our gateway, but also in the state.”
Illinois Office of Tourism has also made efforts to attract more domestic tourists to the state. The office bought ad space for its consumer website EnjoyIllinois.com on auto racing star and Roscoe native Danica Patrick’s car at the Daytona 500 that was held on Feb. 24. The ad deal cost $50,000 and includes a second, later race.
“I hope all those eyes will see EnjoyIllinois.com and be thinking of the fact that Danica is from Illinois,” said Hoelzele. “We’ve got to be ready to seize opportunity really, really fast.
“We need to get creative and we need to get more eyes on Illinois outside the drive-in states. How do we get to the fly-ins put more heads in beds for longer periods of time?”
To view 30-second commercial for Illinois tourism that is being advertised overseas, visit www.youtube.com/user/EnjoyIllinois.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 March 2013 15:08