US Tour Operators Association (USTOA)

We Took Consumers "Around the World" with a Spotlight-Grabbing Sweepstakes to Launch this Travel Trade Association's Social Media Presence.

In 2011, a new president took the helm of the US Tour Operators Association (USTOA) for the first time in 32 years. Under this new leadership, members expected major changes to USTOA's direction and public visibility. The recession – and company belt-tightening – prompted members to demand more value than ever before from association memberships. And with limited consumer marketing tactics, USTOA had few viable channels to help members reach consumers/drive sales. The outdated website had limited functionality, no social media channels existed, and a modest PR effort focused mainly on trade media.

With the association's 40th anniversary in 2012, it was the ideal time to invigorate USTOA by adding a true "B2C" dimension to its marketing mission. Step one: Launch the USTOA's first proactive Facebook site and start the dialogue with travelers.

The 40th anniversary hook was used to launch USTOA's Facebook site with a BIG splash: The Around the World with USTOA Sweepstakes, with prizes to China, Australia/New Zealand, Peru, and the US National Parks. Redpoint orchestrated the entire initiative from start to finish…no small feat for a trade association with many moving parts and hundreds of members to satisfy. We harnessed all the members, secured the prizes, negotiated all promotional agreements, managed the legal and design process, and kept the timeline moving ahead on schedule. Aggressive media pitching supported the sweepstakes campaign and with a new prize each week for four weeks, we tapped leading journalists' Twitter feeds to help promote it all month. The sweepstakes' goal was to establish a strong fan base on Facebook "out of the gate" as a foundation for future marketing efforts.

The results? The USTOA's Facebook sweepstakes yielded 5,000 entries, with a 47% entry rate, a social media reach of nearly 1 million people, and a media reach to consumers of 43 million. The target fan acquisition goal was exceeded by 30%, for a total of 6,500 fans, which was a total increase of 900% over prior base. More than 30 leading journalists tweeted about the sweepstakes each week. In fact, the sweepstakes was so successful that sweepstakes software provider, Wildfire, requested permission to use it as a case study in their marketing materials. To see one of the fun videos we leveraged from one of USTOA's members as part of the sweepstakes app to underscore the value of using a tour operator or packaged travel provider, click here.