Discover South Carolina

Travel Is All About The Thrill of Discovery.

Challenge

Establish a unique, disruptive and compelling integrated marketing campaign to drive incremental visitation throughout the state — primarily to the lesser-known, undiscovered locations, as well as to the 47 state parks. Primary goals were to increase awareness and web traffic, drive positive growth in hotel RevPAR, admission tax collection and state park revenue.


Solution

Primary research was conducted to gain insights on travel behaviors, preferred activities, attitudes, and motivations. The research identified primary traveler segments: cultural experiences that enrich, outdoor experiences that offer an escape and experiences that excite, such as food and festivals. By grounding ourselves in these insights, we developed a branded campaign to appeal to travelers with an “explorer” mindset, called “DISCOVER.” We captured authentic footage and created inspiring assets that were used across all media channels. Creative was rotated over the course of time to hit on the verticals that were identified in the research to appeal to all explorer interests. We also built a digital hub, DiscoverSouthCarolina.com, and produced digital content to tell the undiscovered story of South Carolina. All media was directed to the hub for travelers to explore and plan their trip to South Carolina.‚Äč

The brand positioning has extended across all marketing and communications through an integrated mix of both digital and traditional channels. And when COVID hit earlier this year, it was the strength of the brand that allowed us to quickly react with messaging reminding consumers that When They’re Ready, We’re Ready.


Results

Annual ad effectiveness studies were conducted to measure advertising awareness, consumer reaction to the creative and the impact of the advertising on perceptions and behavior.

  • Overall, awareness increased significantly YOY (54% vs. 32%)
  • 50% of consumers who saw the “DISCOVER” campaign traveled to South Carolina
  • In the first year, advertising influenced 1.26M trips and has consistently increased YOY, now at 2.750M trips
  • One-third of these travelers visited the lesser-known tourism regions of the state
  • Those aware of the campaign are 2.6x more likely to visit “undiscovered” South Carolina than those not aware
  • Hotel RevPAR increased 9.1% in rural areas. The media cost per aware household was $0.13, which is significantly lower than the benchmark for similar campaigns ($0.32)
  • There was a 35% increase in total number of website sessions, a 13% increase in the total number of users and a 75% increase in average time spent on page since the launch of the “DISCOVER” campaign
  • Website traffic increased 99.08% YOY, and more than 500,000 vacation guides were distributed by mail and viewed online