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Sacco: Study finds Experience Scottsdale’s ads effective at inspiring visitation, interest


With marketing, you have mere seconds to make an emotional connection with a potential visitor. Yet those seconds can have a profound, long-lasting impact on our community.

A recent study from Longwoods International, a leader in tourism market research, found that Experience Scottsdale’s advertising campaigns successfully capture potential travelers’ interest and convert them into visitors.

In fact, Experience Scottsdale’s return on investment is the best Longwoods has reported since the pandemic. For every $1 spent on advertising, Experience Scottsdale generates $116 in visitor spending and $4 in state and local taxes.

Experience Scottsdale has partnered with the city of Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley since 1987. For 36 years, we have been the sole organization responsible for establishing Scottsdale as a luxury travel destination, today representing nearly 400 tourism-related businesses in the region.

Our mission is to enhance the local community through the power of tourism, and as a nonprofit organization largely funded by visitor-paid tax dollars, it’s crucial our programs truly move the needle for the benefit of Scottsdale businesses and residents.

Earlier this summer, Experience Scottsdale earned accreditation with distinction from Destinations International, which represents over 600 destination marketing organizations around the globe. According to Destinations International, that means Experience Scottsdale meets over 100 rigorous accreditation standards, as well as aspirational standards, and is among the destinations setting the bar for excellence for our industry. Only 8% of the 225 currently accredited destinations have received this honor of distinction.

To further evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing programs, the city of Scottsdale and Experience Scottsdale commissioned Longwoods International to analyze the return on investment from Experience Scottsdale’s advertising in generating tourism business to the area and in encouraging economic development activity. Longwoods studied our campaigns in three key markets: New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Longwoods found that nearly six in 10 travelers in those key markets recalled seeing at least one Experience Scottsdale advertisement. Our spend per recall is exceptionally low, roughly a quarter of the amount destinations similar in size and budget spend, which Longwoods said is a “strong indicator of an incredibly efficient campaign.” The visitor spending our campaigns generate, meanwhile, is more than double that of similar destination marketing organizations.

Travel is often the first step in shaping perceptions, and our efforts help advance the city’s economic development goals. Longwoods’ research found that consumers who recalled Experience Scottsdale’s advertising are not only more likely to visit, but also more likely to view Scottsdale as a good place to live, work, start a business, attend college, purchase a vacation home, and retire.

This study offers a conservative estimate of all Experience Scottsdale accomplishes for the community, as it focuses solely on three advertising campaigns. While marketing is a crucial part of our organization, it is just one facet of our work to promote travel and tourism. Last fiscal year, our public relations efforts generated over 1,500 positive media hits about the Scottsdale market area in national and international publications. Our convention sales team booked more than 600 future meetings groups into Scottsdale-area hotels and resorts, generating a future economic impact of $107 million. And our tourism managers trained nearly 1,600 travel professionals from around the world to sell Scottsdale vacations.

Each year, Experience Scottsdale’s programs are vetted and approved by the Scottsdale City Council, the Scottsdale Tourism Development Commission and our own board of directors, a 28-member, volunteer body that includes representatives from the tourism industry, business community, the city of Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley.

Experience Scottsdale’s efforts provide media, meeting planners and travel professionals with the tools they need to help amplify Scottsdale’s story around the world. Our hope is that when a potential visitor spots Experience Scottsdale’s ad in a magazine, they’ve already heard about Scottsdale from a trusted friend, influencer, travel writer or travel agent, or they have already attended a conference, meeting or special event in the city. Our research, planning and strategy ensure that in those few seconds, that potential visitor begins planning their Scottsdale vacation.

Editor’s Note: Rachel Sacco is the president and CEO of Experience Scottsdale.