By Mark Okrant,
NH Travel Guru
From 1990 to 2016, your Guru served as research coordinator for the Division of Travel and Tourism Development. Recently, I sat down to chat with the present director, Victoria Cimino.
It is no accident that Cimino finds herself in this position. She has held numerous positions within the travel and tourism industry, from communications manager, to director of international marketing, to public relations manager, to PR supervisor. During her 16-year career, she’s worked for a variety of tourism-oriented concerns in several states.
When Cimino accepted the director’s position, she became the latest in a line of excellent women and men who have coordinated tourism marketing for the Granite State. With such an outstanding array of predecessors, no one could have blamed Cimino if she simply continued the status quo. However, anyone who expected that scenario doesn’t know Vicki very well.
Upon assuming her director’s position, Cimino realized that several key service contracts—including marketing design and research—were up for renewal. Both of the aforementioned posts were held by long term, very popular firms, each having a profound influence upon efforts to market New Hampshire tourism. Cimino must be a disciple of the late Grace Murray Hopper, who once said, “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, ‘We’ve always done it this way’.” In what was a very difficult decision, Cimino determined that the future direction of tourism marketing dictated that—despite the excellent work of those former partners—a new direction was warranted.
DTTD’s director is cognizant of the influence of demographics upon travel styles and the demand for travel information. She realized that a new message would be essential for attracting the current largest generation—Millennials. Moreover, this message needed to be delivered digitally, were DTTD to be successful in attracting those visitors and their spending to New Hampshire.
By hiring GYK Antler of Manchester, DTTD brought in a marketing firm that specialized in digital marketing. Together, Cimino and GYK Antler honed a marketing campaign designed to unify New Hampshire under a single tourism strategy and brand. New Hampshire: Live Free became part of a vastly expanded array of media partnerships and social media. In response to the need to reach Millennials, the agency significantly modernized its digital marketing efforts.
Some may have considered this strategy a gamble. For years, the state had been very successful by following a common path—promoting beautiful, idyllic settings, with a focus on Baby Boomers and the first wave of Generation Xers. Today, nearly two decades into the twenty-first century, the Millennials represent the most important visitor market (defined by some as people born between 1980-1995), and will for the foreseeable future. To reach this market has necessitated change. In lieu of scenes depicting middle age couples enjoying a sleigh ride or playing a game of tennis, a new message is being delivered, primarily via video, television, and social media. This new message focuses upon adventure—extreme recreation opportunities—that New Hampshire can supply given its magnificent, infinitely varied, yet compact, geography.
DTTD has developed a reachable objective: growth in rooms and meals spending of five percent, year over year. To accomplish this necessitates utilizing what is termed ‘the halo effect,’ or using the impression created by tourism promotion to influence public opinion about other issues. The New Hampshire: Live Free campaign is being partnered with the state’s economic development efforts, its metamorphosing agriculture industry, and the vital Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, among others. The brand will be used to forge strong links with higher education, following a model that has been successful in a number of other states. The state’s colleges and universities will be part of a plan that promotes New Hampshire as a destination for traditional visitors, plus students and their families. Next, as a logical consequence, it is expected that business leaders who have been attracted here as vacationers or academic parents will see New Hampshire as the setting for their future economic initiatives. This seems like a win : win all the way around.
After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joins IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.
For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.
For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to: http://www.visitnh.gov/what-to-do/event-calendar.aspx