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Experience Scottsdale delivers state of tourism affairs at Sonder The Monarch

photo of where Experience Scottsdale presentation occured
A view of the Scottsdale Civic Center Plaza one encounters along Drinkwater Boulevard. (Photo: Arianna Grainey/DigitalFreePress)
Analytics, a ‘solar globe’ and birth of marketing personas at Experience Scottsdale
By Terrance Thornton | Digital Free Press

For all intents and purposes the business of Scottsdale tourism is booming — but during yesterday’s Experience Scottsdale tourism update it was revealed marketing and communications experts there believe return on investment can still be improved.

The community of Scottsdale, its hoteliers and proprietors experienced record visits from out-of-town guests last year, the best it’s been since 2019 experts say, but where marketing professionals say more value can be realized is through ancillary spending of those tourists who are already coming to Scottsdale and the Town of Paradise Valley.

The event was held in the heart of downtown Scottsdale at Sonder The Monarch, 4000 N. Drinkwater Blvd.

“We signed our first contracts in 1987, at least that was the first one I stewarded, and we have been working in tandem with the city of Scottsdale ever since,” said Rachel Sacco, Experience Scottsdale president and CEO, to a filled room of Valley business and tourism officials during the morning hours of Wednesday, Sept. 20.

“If you know us well, you know we are all about data and ROI.”

Over the last three years, Ms. Sacco and her team at Experience Scottsdale have successfully pivoted to a modern marketing effort that just in the last year touched all realms of marketing prowess.

“We always want to go from good to great and we can do that through research — we know it is working and we know it will get better,” she said of her team’s pursuit of understanding the American consumer through a digital analysis. “This means your team at Experience Scottsdale sets the bar for excellence in this space.”

Those in attendance included the local movers and shakers of the Scottsdale and Paradise Valley communities including the political figureheads of both communities: Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega and Paradise Valley Mayor Jerry Bien-Willner.

Both told the Arizona Digital Free Press they attended the early morning meeting to better understand how Experience Scottsdale is shepherding tourism dollars toward community benefit.

“I think Rachel Sacco and Experience Scottsdale have done an outstanding job with our tourism efforts,” Mayor Ortega said. “They are very accountable and constantly looking at how to gauge and measure their results. That is what we want and expect to see at the City Council level from our tourism marketing arm. Making those points and explaining those points is always important and for me very uplifting.”

Mayor Bien-Willner offers a similar sentiment that he too was happy with what he heard yesterday.

“I am so proud of the work of Experience Scottsdale and our partnership with the city of Scottsdale as well. They are a great community in every sense of the word,” Mayor Bien-Willner said. “To bring more tourism activity to the town and introducing our town and region to new visitors is a net positive.”

Download the Experience Scottsdale presentation HERE.

A brief dive into ROI at Experience Scottsdale

Leadership at Experience Scottsdale, over about 60 minutes, took to the stage Wednesday, Sept. 20, to explain in detail where the money goes — and how it benefits the communities of Scottsdale and Town of Paradise Valley.

In fiscal year 2022-23, Experience Scottsdale allocated of its about $7 million advertising budget, $1,874,358 to pay for advertising activations in three key markets New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The breakdown of those market-specific funds is:

  • Video creation and sponsored content: $1,646,125
  • Social media sponsored posts: $150,215
  • Radio and podcast adverts: $49,103
  • Print adverts: $28,915

According to Anna Blount, VP of research at Longwoods International, Experience Scottsdale created a total of 345 million exposures.

Experience Scottsdale officials report the return on investment is $116 in visitor spending and $4 in taxes for every $1 spent on advertising, Ms. Blount explained.

Furthermore, Ms. Blount provided this summary:

The about $1.9 million in AD spend translated to 821,000 incremental trips, $217.2 million in incremental spending — and based on a tax rate calculation of 3.5% — the city of Scottsdale saw a $7.6 million influx to local coffers from key competitive markets New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

The Old Town cowboy sign was restored in January 2023 to it’s early-1950s design. (Photo: Courtesy city of Scottsdale/DigitalFreePress)
What comes next at Experience Scottsdale?

“We will continue to double down on the elements that we know are working, while also building a new advertising campaign that focuses on addressing the areas of opportunity that were highlighted in the study,” said Michelle Myers, VP of marketing at Experience Scottsdale.

“Longwoods International has identified these 10 destination hot-buttons, that travelers in our primary markets are motivated by. This means, that to ensure Scottsdale is on the consideration list as a potential destination for travel markets, we need to position Scottsdale as all of those things.”

Two efforts, one internal and the other external, are emerging at Experience Scottsdale:

  • Bringing new to market in Chicago and New York City will be what officials there are calling a ‘solar globe’ to be included with marketing activation where residents of cooler climates can encounter the sights, sounds, smells and feeling of warm desert air.
  • The development of local marketing personas whereas Experience Scottsdale officials are seeking to use data points to develop marketing criteria for folks who consider themselves a foodie, and introvert or outdoors man, among others.

Ms. Myers says from a core marketing perspective, Experience Scottsdale is striving to do better with illustrating a holistic view of the Scottsdale experience.

“When we looked at how Scottsdale performed relative to the other destinations in the competitive set we selected for this study — Scottsdale could be more competitive around its overall image,” she said. “The competitors selected for this study are very competitive. They include Las Vegas, Miami, Palm Springs, Austin and San Antonio. Each of these destinations have a significant marketing budget, making them strong competitors for Scottsdale. We were able to use these personas as a starting point and layer in Scottsdale and Paradise Valley specific data to refine the audiences.”

Defined marketing personas include:

  • Foodies
  • The Sports Goer
  • Wellness Warrior
  • The Family Unit
  • Indulgent Individual
  • Luxury Travelers

Ms. Myers contends insights derived from the recent advertising effectiveness study have become an effective tool in delivering better results for public dollars spent.

“By combining these more robust personas, with the insights gathered from advertising effectiveness study, we have all the pieces we need to build a highly effective advertising campaign,” she said. “This campaign will include a new commercial, digital ADs, print ADs, a social campaign and a photography and video assets that will utilized across all mediums.”

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