Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway Marketing Plan
Wyvonne Phillips

February 18, 2003

MARKETING PLAN = OBJECTIVES + MARKETS + BUDGET + STRATEGIES + TIME LINE + EVALUATION

OBJECTIVES:
• Introduce the "Santa Fe Trail Scenic and Historic Byway."
• Invite stake holders, non profit and for profit tourism businesses, especially lodging properties and attractions to participate in the plans objectives.
• Hold meetings along the Byway to collect thoughts and ideas from the local Byway residents. Invite Chambers of Commerce, Convention and Visitor Bureaus and similar tourism promotion organizations to offer input into the plan.
• Increase business at specific times of the year or days of the week.
• Reach niche markets.
• Encourage Byway users to utilize a web site for informational purposes.

SELECT APPROPRIATE MARKETS:
• Direct through gatekeepers such as the media, travel agents, tour operators, meeting planers and Internet search engines
• Geographic or demographic markets (defined by consumer characteristics)
• Niche markets (such as seniors, AAA card holders, bird watchers, military, honeymoon, family reunions, and the international traveler )
• Primary, secondary or emerging markets

Utilize Research Data:
• Use demographics from a national source. Sources from US Travel Data Center, Travel Industry of America, local tourist development agencies, convention and visitor bureaus, or do it yourself research projects.
• Consumers use of the Internet for travel-related research and purchasing is increasing. Link our web site to other related sites and search engines.
• Educational travel is increasing. Utilize the heritage of the Byway to attract history buffs.
• Consumers are more increasingly interested in interactive experiences. Capitalize on the living history exhibits, hiking, biking trails, and other hands on activities.
• Database marketing is growing in importance. Establish a way to keep track of this data within the areas of the Byway through existing visitor attractions and organizations with questionnaires.
• Cooperative marketing is increasing because destinations and tourism industry business have found it to be more cost effective and enable them to reach larger audiences. Network with our fellow Byways to reach those who are visiting them to encourage visitors to include our Byway in their traveling plans.
• Use information collected in the process of completing the corridor management plan.

TYPES OF MARKETING: Their pros and cons

• Paid advertising
To be used when budgeting permits to control content, medium and timing of the consumers we will directly reach. It's expensive! PSAs on local radio stations would be cost effective.
• Trade shows
Meet with consumers or gatekeepers in person, long-term advance planning is possible because trade show dates are set years in advance. Works best to reach tour operators rather than consumers and is expensive unless booked as part of a co-op program.
• Sales calls
Meet with consumers or gatekeepers in person and address specific issues and concerns easily. Requires travel and time-consuming appointment set up and a limited number of appointments can be seen in a day.
• Direct mail
Good consumer mailing list data is available based on demographic research and past purchasing behavior. Relatively inexpensive but very low return on investment.
• Internet
Virtually unlimited audience, very cost effective and audience is growing in leaps and bounds. Search engine entry is foremost in successful Internet marketing and professional assistance is required to maintain an effective web site. It gives the biggest bang for the buck.
• Events
Highly visible as a means to reach a local audience and sponsors will often underwrite most of the cost. Annual events lack ongoing visibility and it is harder to reach a national or regional audience. Lots of volunteers are usually needed. A good interactive community project would be to have the Junior Colleges in Trinidad, La Junta and Lamar write and perform a historical documentary drama production that can travel to area events in the Byway. This same approach can become a yearly venture for the three colleges. Similar to the production "TEXAS" using the "SANTA FE TRAIL" for its content. This idea could be further expanded using multi state grants partnering with other states that are along the Santa Fe Trail. This would expand our advertising capabilities to utilize other state resources in our marketing strategies.
• Public relations/media marketing
More cost effective than other forms of marketing, high credibility factor, and it is the easiest way to market undiscovered destinations. Usually requires professional assistance to have much impact on a regional or national level.
We should capitalize on everything that is already being done to market the area served by the trail. It may be wise to purchase ads in our existing Chambers, and other existing publications, web sites, shows or events rather than create new pieces. In addition to spreading our message, this approach demonstrates that the Byway supports rather than competes with existing organizations. We need to budget from the beginning for the cost of fulfilling inquiries that our marketing will create. Plans often fail to include the cost for receiving phone calls, e-mails or walk-in traffic, the cost of servicing them; the cost of fulfillment materials, packaging, postage; the cost of following up on the inquiries and the cost of measuring the value of the programs. The staff needs to be trained at visitor centers along the Byway, at the front desk of lodging properties and at museums and similar attractions about the Byway.

STRATEGIES:
Byway marketing is successfully communicating with and convincing potential visitors that we have something that they need or will benefit from, and that we can provide a service or fill that need better than anyone else. We must understand our audience (current and intended). Brochures often fail due to a lack of understanding about their intended visitors and the psychology of the visitors. Brochures often illustrate or promote the wrong things. We must consider all that our Byway has to offer.

While we can produce one printed brochure for interpretation, we will probably need several different ones for different marketing groups. I would suggest that we produce several different themed self-guiding booklets for different market groups such as:
• Byway geology and glacial history
• Early pioneers and settlement in the region
• Historic cemeteries and their stories
• Historic buildings and architecture
• Historic people and places
• Byway roadside plants and animals
• A child's coloring book for Byway features
• K-12 teachers' guides for Byway experiences and education
• The spring (summer, autumn and winter) Byway guides
Produce these materials in full color as word documents on the computer and then have them posted and available on the Byway web site. That way visitors can print off (with their own paper and ink) the guide(s) they are most interested in. For those who don't have computer access, have a few printed copies available at Byway contact points where visitors can "have one printed while they wait," or check one out and return it later. These different guides can have different physical stops for each guide, located by mile markers, visual cues, odometer readings, etc. This gives us maximum flexibility for our Byway interpretation, including being able to easily update each booklet, but not require huge printing costs and runs.

What visitors are looking for are "experiences." This is a key concept in developing and marketing for any Byway attraction. What experiences does your Byway have to offer and how powerful are they? How memorable? Marketing pieces need to illustrate the wide range of experiences the Byway has to offer. In developing the marking plan we need to look and plan for where the best and most powerful memories of the visit will come from (or need to be created).
• Where will visitors want to have a photo taken of them standing next to?
• What will they take pictures of?
• What do you want them talking about in the car on their way home from visiting the Byway?
• What memories (souvenirs) enhancements will you have available (post cards, t-shirts, videos, photo opportunities)?

TIME LINE:
We need to consider our Byway an ever-changing corridor of activities. Visitors will not come to see the same things over and over. It is important that we introduce new attractions at least yearly in order to get them here for return visits. "Been there, done that" should not be relative when visitors are determining where they want to go for their vacations. Our Byway interpretation should be kept fresh and our repertoire should be developed as the Byway grows with the years. This will have to be closely monitored and will be determined by the interest from locals and many visitors over time. Surveys at key sites should be solicited.

EVALUATION:
When developing our plan of action we must consider these questions and have answers to them:
• Where are our visitors coming from?
• How long does the average visit last?
• Is there a visitor perception that the admission fee was good value for the experience paid for, or do they think they paid too much for too little?
• What did they spend money on and how much?
• What were the attraction visit components of most importance to the visitors? (shopping, food service, interpretive experiences, social interactions, recreation opportunities, etc.)
• What are their seasonal visitation patterns and influences?
• Why did they decide to visit the site or attraction in the first place?
• What experiences or recreational learning opportunities were they looking for?
• Did the site meet or exceed their expectations of what they would see-do-and experience here or did it fall short of their expectations from the brochures and advertising?
• What were their best or most powerful memories of their visit?
• What reasons did we give them to return again to our Byway?
• Can our support services handle our visitor load?
• Did our customer care plan and training pay off and did the visitor feel welcome?
• Whom do we want our visitors to be?
• What target markets would be interested in the stories, materials, experiences, artifacts, etc. that our site has to offer.
• What's in it for them by coming to our attraction?
• If seasonal market groups, what season?
• How do we market to special target groups? (advertisements in specialty magazines or publications, mail outs to clubs and organizations, e-mails to specialty organizations' membership lists, etc.)
• Do we have support services in place to handle a surge in visitation? (parking, accommodations, food service, etc.)?
• How do we design and structure our advertising materials to get the attention of and relate to these new market groups?
• How will we track and evaluate the success of our market creation plan?
• Are these renewable market groups or are they one time visitors only?
• How have other Byways and attractions done that cater to or try to attract these same market groups? What has been the key to their marketing success?

References:

Geiger, Debbie 2000. Florida Scenic Highways Workshop, recommendations.

Haskett, Richard 2003. Minnesota Scenic Byway Commission, recommendations.

Veverka, John A. 1994. Interpretive Master Planning. Acorn Naturalists, CA

Veverka, John A. 2000. Interpretive Planning for the New Millennium: Outcome and experience based planning strategies. Legacy, Volume 11, Number 3, May/June 2000.