Visitors to Montana are being urged to “Step Out of Bounds” this summer — to cross the line for unexpected moments and embrace a remarkable place.
The theme of the Montana Office of Tourisms’s 2013 summer campaign was highlighted by Riana Davidson, interactive marketing specialist with the tourism office, at Tuesday’s Kalispell Chamber of Commerce luncheon and Summer Event Expo.
Davidson said Montana is spending $8 million to promote itself as a destination this year, which is not much when thrown against the scope of worldwide tourism marketing.
“We won’t win with dollars alone,” she said. “We have to win with smarts and courage.”
Davidson also was speaking of the courage of the traveler that Montana tends to attract — those who are willing to get out of their comfort zones and try something new.
And the tourist office is calling on these adventurous travelers to provide much of the content for the campaign.
“‘Step Out of Bounds’ is all about real people, real travel and real stories,” Davidson said.
The promotion is following what Davidson called an “infinity loop” moving through stages of traditional advertising to a website to social media and back to the advertising.
The loop begins with print advertising — simple but powerful images that are “light on copy but big on awe and wonder,” Davidson said. The advertising has already taken the form of full-page ads in well-known magazines and billboards in markets such as Chicago, Seattle and Salt Lake City. Radio ads made up of short testimonials from past visitors supplement the campaign.
The ads encourage those who are intrigued to visit stepoutofbounds.com for more inspiration from travelers who have found their personal corner of Montana. The site focuses on three regions — Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Montana’s High Plains. Within each region, three suggestions for unforgettable trips are offered.
Also on the site is an encouragement to “Connect Out of Bounds,” leading to social media’s place in the loop. The #MontanaMoment campaign urges travelers to share their best images from visits to the state. Images will be posted on the site to give visitors a photo gallery of genuine made-in-Montana experiences.
These photos and other visitor testimonials close the circle.
“This will be priming the pump for some really powerful advertising,” Davidson said.
Montana experienced its biggest tourism year yet in 2012. Estimates produced by The University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research show that 10.8 million people visited the state in 2012, an increase of 2 percent from 2011. Spending by those visitors increased about 15 percent from the year before, totaling $3.27 billion.
Diane Medler, director of the Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau, said that the disproportionate increase in spending is a key statistic.
“It means they’re staying longer and enjoying more things,” she said “That’s because of good branding and marketing.”
She said her office aims to capitalize on the efforts of the state tourism organization.
“We capture the people who have Montana on their minds and let them know that Northwest Montana and Kalispell is the place they want to come,” she said.
Reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4439 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.