virginia tourism corporation wins national award for wanderlove campaign
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Virginia Tourism Corporation wins national award for WanderLove campaign

virginia tourismThe Virginia Tourism Corporation received a national tourism industry award for its WanderLove campaign, a recovery initiative that united Virginia’s tourism industry, generated immediate economic impact for local communities and encouraged visitors to travel safely.

VTC was recognized with the prestigious National Council of State Tourism Directors Mercury Award for Industry and Strategic Partnerships during U.S. Travel Association’s annual Education Seminar for Tourism Organizations conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. This is VTC’s 13th Mercury Award.

The agency’s DRIVE 2.0 program was also recognized as a finalist for the Mercury Award for Community Building.

With its Mercury Awards, the U.S. Travel Association recognizes state and territory tourism offices for excellence and creative accomplishment in travel marketing and promotion. Winning programs serve as models to foster imagination and innovation in the development of future destination programs.

“The WanderLove campaign was an essential component of the travel industry’s recovery efforts,” said Caren Merrick, secretary of commerce and trade. “This innovative initiative helped to drive economic activity across the Commonwealth, injecting critical funds back into our communities and reviving an industry that had been severely affected by the pandemic. Virginia Tourism continues to deliver outstanding results, helping to attract more travelers to the Commonwealth and spurring economic growth across Virginia.”

The WanderLove campaign was developed to position Virginia as the ultimate road trip destination to families and young couples who live in-state.

Knowing there was concern with the safety of travel, VTC focused on five thematic pillars that highlighted low-risk travel experiences in Virginia:

  • Scenic drives
  • Outdoor experiences
  • Small towns
  • Hidden gems
  • LOVEworks, a collection of more than 300 colorful, Instagrammable, roadside love signs

These five pillars not only captured the unique aspects of a Virginia road-trip but also promoted low-risk experiences that travelers could enjoy from their car or socially distanced from large crowds.

To further amplify the WanderLove campaign, VTC provided a DMO Recovery Grant of $10,000 awarded to 90 destination marketing organizations to create their own WanderLove content. Along with funding, partners had access to a toolkit with creative templates including digital banners, social posts, logos, news releases and blog outlines, enabling them to quickly customize creative and get back into the marketplace, while also unifying them like never before in a broad-reaching campaign.

Results of the campaign:

  • More than 27 million impressions
  • 360,000 website visits
  • 2.9 million video views
  • 310,000 email opens
  • 51,000 influencer engagements

An ROI study with Omnitrak showed:

  • 72 percent of exposed Virginia residents said the WanderLove campaign positively impacted their perceptions of Virginia as a travel destination
  • One third of the Virginia resident audience recalled seeing an ad
  • 35 percent reported planning to visit within the next 6 months

To learn more about WanderLove, click here.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.