Philadelphia Museum of Art

3 Takeaways From Tourism Academy 2016

We’ve just returned from beautiful Philadelphia where we spent two action-packed days at the 2016 Tourism Academy conference which we were proud to support as a key sponsor and as a presenter with our client Visit Stockton.

We're soaking up the best of @visitphilly while attending #tourismacademy #lifeatcrowdriff

A photo posted by CrowdRiff (@crowdriff) on


Tourism Academy is an event hosted by our friends at Tempest Interactive Media for forward-thinking travel and tourism professionals. This year over 150 destination marketers from DMOs of all sizes came together to learn, make new connections and spend time with industry friends.

Here are some highlights from the conference that any destination marketer can benefit from, whether you attended or not.

3 Key Takeaways from Tourism Academy 2016:

Content is more than what you create, it’s a way to build community

Brian Matson (@BVMatson) from Two Six Digital gave a talk on how DMOs need to be the authorities and publishers of relevant content. Our take on his presentation:

  • It’s not enough to just create content. What you really need is to create a culture of sharing, and use content to build a community around your destination.
  • Create clickable stories like the smart folks at Ypsi Real. They asked their social media followers for their favourite burger spot, got tons of recommendations, and then shared the Top 3 Burger Spots with a click through to follow the restaurants’ Instagram pages. This is  a great way to promote the people who are sharing your destination; they love the recognition, and it drives new awareness for your local businesses.

Travel is emotional, and Instagram is a collector of emotions

You may have already heard the news that Instagram crossed its 500 million users mark last week. That number would not be a surprise to Joe Giessler (@thejoehio) from TourismOhio (@ohiogram), who spoke about Building a Successful Instagram Program Without A Budget

  • Travel is emotional – people experience joy, happiness, anticipation and excitement, as well as a shared experience and social connectivity. But how many destinations are really tapping into that emotion? For starters, use Instagram to build awareness and drive engagement.
  • Joe shared some great tactics as well, such as using links in your Instagram bio, instead of in your caption. The former drive 132% more click throughs to He also suggested creating blog content around different themes with pictures pulled from Instagram. (Like our Ten Portland Instagrammers We Love post)
  • Advertising on Instagram is a good fit for DMOs, but it is a better channel for engagement goals (measured by your likes) than conversion-based goals like click-throughs. Joe found that for, Instagram had a much lower cost-per-like than Facebook, but a much higher cost-per-click

Destination Marketing Organizations are really Destination Media Organizations

This clever phrase was coined by the video panel discussion, where four different DMOs spoke about the power of video for DMOs. They kicked things off with a staggering statistic: by 2017, online video will make up 70% of consumer internet traffic. So what can video do for a DMO?

  • Video can boost email open rates by up to 19%, increase average time on site by 88%, and increase conversion by 80%.
  • While people prefer to watch short videos, you can tell an in-depth story about your destination through a series of short clips. Travel Waterloo has aired more than 40 video episodes over the past 13 months, averaging nearly 10,000 views per episode. They spend $700/week on content production and measure video completion rates as well as total views.

These takeaways are just the tip of the iceberg. If you’d like to learn more, you can download the presentation slides or check out how CrowdRiff helps DMOs tell great visual stories.


Header image credit: Sean Moloney