Spotlight: Delaware TourismDestinations facing challenge with resilience and creativity
Delaware Tourism Gives Small Businesses a Cinematic Platform
Resilience and creativity have always been hallmarks of the travel industry. At Miles, we’ve been inspired by the innovative ways that destinations and organizations are exemplifying those qualities, adapting to meet the extraordinary challenges presented by COVID-19. We will be spotlighting those efforts here each week to help share that inspiration throughout the industry.
Read on to find out how Delaware Tourism is working hand-in-hand with their community to create user-directed video content that supports and promotes small local businesses during the pandemic.
Challenge: Business as Unusual
Small businesses make up 98% of the businesses in Delaware and contribute significantly to the state’s tourism sector. These small businesses also employ 55% of Delawareans so when the Stay at Home Order went into effect from March 24 to May 31, it was a tremendous hit to the state’s residents and hospitality community. Between late February and May, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a loss of 41,300 jobs for the Delaware LTR sector with almost 60% of the jobs lost coming from Delaware hotels and restaurants. And when the order lifted June 1, it wasn’t exactly business as usual. As Delaware residents slowly began to venture out and practice new social distancing guidelines, many businesses were anxious to safely welcome them back and stay afloat.
Strategy: Lights, Camera, Action!
The Delaware Tourism Office developed a campaign called Local Discoveries. This program provides a platform for the Office to promote small businesses across the state to local residents via user-created video content. Selected small businesses use Cinebody, an intuitive app that allows users to create high-quality video with an iPhone, to visually showcase how their business is adjusting operations to keep customers safe during COVID-19 and reiterating the importance of supporting local communities.
The process to create the Local Discoveries videos has required some true COVID-19-era ingenuity. Together Miles and Delaware Tourism direct small businesses via documentation with suggested shot lists, talking prompts and questions for their video content. The small businesses send raw video files to Miles for editing and magic-working. Final products are being shared on Delaware Tourism’s YouTube, Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Another project that stemmed from this idea was the Protecting Delaware video series that is currently in production. Working together, Delaware Tourism and the Delaware Division of Small Business are developing compilation videos of several businesses around the state that will showcase additional steps the businesses are taking to help consumers feel safe, working within the Delaware Customer Protection Standards. These videos were shot by a local video company, and, keeping true to COVID guidelines, they were directed remotely via video conference by Miles and Delaware.
Results: Putting Faces with Business Names
In addition to raising awareness for small businesses across the state and creating a sense of appreciation between small businesses and their local communities, the Local Discoveries and Protecting Delaware videos have strengthened partnerships between Delaware Tourism and Delaware Division of Small Business, along with the businesses they partner with. They are tracking video views and reach, but have been more encouraged by the relationships they are building by helping local partners during these hard times.
To learn more, we talked with Liz Keller with Delaware Tourism Office (DTO) and Michael Chesney with Delaware Division of Small Business (DSB) to learn more about the strategy behind Local Discoveries and choosing Cinebody to showcase small businesses across the state.
What sparked the idea for the Local Discoveries video series?
DTO: We knew that local travel would be the first segment to begin exploring. As with our overall brand of “Endless Discoveries,” awareness is key. We aimed to help residents know more about what is available to do in their own backyard. Through video content, we wanted to highlight places that would pique interest. And using Cinebody provided a way to affordably and easily obtain the necessary footage from partners.
What are some of the overall goals and objectives of the Local Discoveries initiative and how are you measuring success?
DTO: Awareness is the most important goal along with sparking interest in exploring the state. We measured success by video views and reach but also by how important it is to the partner. A few thousand views go a long way when the partner feels we were there for them during a difficult time.
Why was it important for Delaware Tourism to partner with the Delaware Division of Small Business?
DSB: The Tourism Office is a unit of the Division of Small Business but operates with its own budget, own advertising, etc. This works well, especially because the normal audiences for the DTO and DSB messaging are so different. For DTO it is out-of-state consumers. For DSB it is in-state businesses. However, given COVID, DSB has needed to pivot its messaging toward in-state consumers. This has provided the opportunity for a combined marketing effort that takes the same overall content and simply angles it toward in-state or out-of-state depending on the office.
DTO: During this difficult time, it has been vital to have a strong relationship with our parent Division. It assisted with creating streamlined communications from the front line to the decision makers, but also allowed us to see the need of the businesses and organizations in a more detailed light. By partnering as two small teams coming together, we could expand our resources, reach and impact.
Are there any commonalities or trends you’ve noticed in how Delaware small businesses are approaching health and safety concerns and reopening?
DSB: There is absolutely a recognition among many, many Delaware businesses that being open safely and within the guidelines provided by the State is good for the bottom line. Improving and maintaining consumer confidence is essential to continuing to operate during a pandemic. And hundreds of businesses have become part of DSB’s COVID-19 Customer Protection Standards to help in that effort.
What has been the general response so far from both the general public and from featured small businesses to Local Discoveries videos?
DTO: The public has appreciated the showcase of new ideas, and local businesses are feeling supported. Cinebody helped spur ideas for businesses on crafting the message on their own social media. It gave them the roadmap for adjustments to their marketing.
What advice do you have for DMOs that want to partner with and support local businesses in their community?
DSB: For economic development agencies, the key to supporting businesses at this time is making it easy and worthwhile for them to be part of the effort. Being certain that there is a reason (and they understand that reason) for them to put valuable time and energy into working together increases both buy-in during content creation and dissemination. They need to know they, along with the State, will benefit from the messaging.
DTO: For a DMO it is important to know that we can do what we can do. At such a hard time, it can be easy to feel like we’re not doing enough. But, we are. Keeping in consistent contact by phone, not just email, gives businesses a personal connection, shows we’re making the effort and helps them get the best resources from our office. The direct contact is also better for businesses fighting to survive that don’t have time to do things like fill out a survey.
Are there any exciting things coming up for Delaware Tourism that you’d like to share?
DSB: The Division of Small Business is preparing to launch an advertising campaign to build consumer awareness of the COVID-19 Customer Protection Standards and what it means for a business to be part of the program. One of the most exciting elements of this campaign will be a concept Miles came up with to help DSB’s messaging cut through the “sea of sameness” currently in the marketplace when it comes to COVID-19 safety advertising and commercials.
DTO: The tourism office is moving forward with launching three new projects from a new interactive visitor experience to redesigning our main website. We also launched the new travel guide during COVID-19, which was an adventure in marketing. Our sales team members are now half sales and half industry relations. Our marketing team members are half marketing the state and half marketing advisors for businesses. Everyone is working together to lift the industry across Delaware.
Delaware’s local businesses have some fantastic stories to tell. Check out the Local Discoveries video series to learn more.