Spotlight: Kentucky Department of Tourism

Destinations facing challenge with resilience and creativity

Kentucky Department of Tourism's Video Series

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 the Kentucky Department of Tourism has been engaging the stay-at-home audience by releasing a year’s worth of episodic content that showcases the state’s culture, arts and heritage.

Challenge: Please Hold

Like many other DMOs, the Kentucky Department of Tourism had plans to release new content before and during the 2020 summer vacation season. However, the COVID-19 health crisis rocked the travel industry in early March, completely disrupting strategies and schedules. In Kentucky Tourism’s case, they were planning on launching a robust collection of 10 new episodic video series (48 total videos created in partnership with Miles as project lead, coordinating with four production companies under the same creative direction) throughout 2020.

Strategy: Change of Plans

The Kentucky Tourism team’s original plan was to release the new video series in a drip fashion, two episodes each week, from March to September. But now with a “captive” audience staying home and consuming more video content than ever before, Kentucky Tourism recognized an opportunity and switched gears to launch the new videos. On March 26, they released all 48 episodes from the 10 new series of episodic content on their website and YouTube, and began promoting two series each week on Facebook.


Results: Inspiration at Home

Though their goal of sharing new episodic content throughout the 2020 planning and travel season had changed, Kentucky Tourism is achieving their primary goal of using entertainment-first tourism content to inspire potential visitors to plan a trip to Kentucky when the time is right. As their website explains, “These Kentucky series will take you on multiple adventures around The Bluegrass State from horse farms and distilleries, to cooking with celebrity chefs, mixing cocktails with a twist, and even photographing everything Kentucky has to offer with a world-famous photographer.”

Kentucky Tourism is monitoring impressions, video views, website traffic, completion rates and engagement on social media to measure the success of the amended release of their episodic content. Within one month of releasing the new series, the videos had reached nearly 15,000 unique viewers on the website and Kentucky Tourism’s YouTube channel. The posts on social media throughout the month of April garnered more than 1.6 million impressions.

To learn more, we emailed the Commissioner of Kentucky Department of Tourism, Mike Mangeot, to ask about the strategy behind developing their episodic content and advice they have for engaging stay-at-home audiences.

What initially sparked the idea for producing these video series?

Our research indicated that consumers are looking to be entertained and that more than 50% of consumers prefer video content. When you pair that with the fact that recall for video messaging, especially when told in a story format, is higher than written content, it made sense for us to create these series. We also recognized the need for inspiring content to grab travelers while in the dreaming phase of their trip planning. Finally, it was a great way for us to provide content for each of our tourism pillars – Horses (we’re the Horse Capital of the World), Bourbon (do you even have to ask??), Music, Culinary, Outdoors, Arts, Multicultural and History.

What was the strategy behind releasing the series ahead of schedule and all at once?

When the COVID-19 health crisis first hit the industry, we did what everyone else did – we stopped all of our marketing communications that included any type of strong call to action. But we also understood that our residents and potential visitors would be at home with extra time on their hands and were consuming more and more video content. We wanted to provide inspirational and educational content to keep Kentucky top of mind when travel began to pick back up.

What are some of the overall goals/objectives for the project? Have those goals changed with the amended launch schedule?

The original goal was to produce entertainment-first tourism content that would highlight all of Kentucky’s travel pillars and inspire potential visitors. A secondary goal was to use this content to help drive traffic to our new website design. The original plan called for releasing two new videos each week from mid-March (the original date for the new website rollout) through August. We are now using our social media channels to drive awareness and traffic to the videos.

How did you select the stories you wanted to tell through the episodic content?

As I’ve mentioned, we wanted to highlight our pillars but within each of those areas we wanted to bring strong storytellers, unique locations and experiences that are open to visitors.

Though the series all have different themes and approaches, there is a sense of continuity and consistency. How did you accomplish this?

It was really a testament to our staff and a production partnership coordinated by one creative director and team for all of the series.

How are you measuring the success of each of the video series?

We’re measuring in a number of ways: Impressions, website traffic, completion rate as well as social media engagement. It has been interesting to find that while our primary target demographic is women 25-54, to date the videos have been viewed by a larger percentage of men than women.

Do you have any tips for other DMOs about creating and releasing existing episodic content during this time?

Every destination has great stories, but you have to make sure what you’re showing is actually available to the traveler. Don’t approach these as a typical advertising spot and try to cram everything into one video. Truly focus on making these engaging, educational and/or aspirational.

Are there any future exciting things coming up for Kentucky that you’d like to share?

Many of our original plans are on hold, obviously, but I think this crisis will force us to look at how we continue to tell our story virtually. We must ask ourselves what opportunities will be there for Kentucky and our partner DMOs? Many of our DMOs and attractions have been forced to generate new virtual content and I view that as a plus. How will we continue telling our stories—and we have GREAT stories—but what will that look like? Working with our industry partners to find those solutions is what I’m excited about moving forward.


Tune In

Visit Kentucky Tourism’s website to check out all 48 episodes of the series and take your own adventure through the Bluegrass State!