Last month, Lake Charles hosted over 500 tourism and hospitality professionals at the Lt. Governor’s Travel Summit. The conference featured a keynote address from Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser, top educational speakers from around the country, workshops and break-out sessions addressing the latest industry trends, and lots of networking!
As a first-timer at the conference, I was taking in everything! Here are my top 5 takeaways:
- Promote our beautiful state, Louisiana.
Present were state leaders, CVBs, hotels and B&Bs, plantation and historical destinations, state and recreational parks, industry workers, media, tech vendors, and so much more. Together we tell a fuller story of what Louisiana has to offer both to other residents and to visitors. And as residents, we all in some form or another make up the culture and essence of what makes Louisiana great.
Each state has a different story to tell and is unique in their own way of telling it. We tell it through our food, music, history, landscape and experiences.
Staycation: Explore your state.
During Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser’s speech he challenged everyone to be a tourist in their own state, to get out of their city and travel to another area of the state. “You are the biggest advocate for your state and community,” he said, and this really stuck with me. Louisiana has so many great experiences to share, and many of us that reside here have not actually explored other cities and attractions that are just hours away from where we call home. So, at the suggestion of the Lt. Governor, my husband and I have made plans to visit the Natchitoches Christmas lights in December. I hope he inspired others to experience and share something new in Louisiana in the next year.
Creating Content: Share your experiences.
Several break-out sessions covered a variety of topics from leveraging the latest social trends to using your state attractions to market your community to creating a new travel experience.
One of the main strategies expert Brian Matson discussed was creating quality, engaging content to share on social platforms, blogs and promotional collateral, and utilizing that content in intentional, effective ways. He suggested that marketers should strive to be able to use content pieces in 5 different ways.
One example discussed was creating a quality video clip of an experience at your destination and recycling that video in the following ways:
- A blog post
- Website content
- A clipped version on social media
- Record quality live streams on social media while filming the original video
- Use the same subject in still frames for promotional collateral pieces
All these are ways of “working smarter, not harder” when it comes to creating content for your destination to share with your followers.
Southern Hospitality: Customer service goes a long way.
In his break-out sessions, Jeff Tobe spoke about the importance of “going beyond the sale” and the initial engagement, and creating a new experience for travelers. Knowing your audience and truly influencing, engaging and being active in their experience is key for destinations.
Our state is so heavy in culture and experiences, which are delivered to visitors by our hospitality industry workers. Taking pride in our culture and educating industry workers helps in sharing all that Louisiana has to offer while building creative environments for the tourism industry to flourish.
Industry growth and evolution.
Many speakers touched on the growth of the Louisiana tourism industry and the positive impact it has on the state’s economy.
The Louisiana Office of Tourism released some key tourism facts at the conference:
- 2017 was the sixth straight record-breaking year for tourism in Louisiana.
- During 2017, 1 million visitors spent $17.5 billion in Louisiana – a 4% increase in spending over 2016.
- The revenue generated through domestic and international visitors represents a more than 37-to-1 return on investment of state funding of the Louisiana Office of Tourism.
- 233,092 Louisianans are employed in the travel and hospitality industry.
- A total of $1.8 billion of state and local sales tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities in 2017
Overall, I would highly recommend the conference to other industry professionals. It was informative, organized, community-driven and resourceful. It was well put together and showcased our state beautifully.