DES MOINES, Iowa (October 8, 2020) – While every industry has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, arguably none has been hit as hard as the travel industry. Like so many of their peers, Catch Des Moines, the convention and visitor's bureau for Greater Des Moines, had to pivot when it came to marketing the region. Instead of focusing on events, which are the main driver of visitation to Des Moines Catch Des Moines had to figure out to safely and responsibly promote the region during a period when in some cases, travel has literally been impossible. The answer: control what you can control, support local, prepare for the future and get outside.
“Our short-term focus shifted from casting a wide net to bring in visitors and events to being a resource for locals so they can safely and responsibly support local businesses and attractions,” said Greg Edwards, President & CEO at Catch Des Moines, who has been a vocal industry leader for things like PPP for CVBs and travel tax credits. “The hospitality industry is going to be what drives recovery, and Des Moines’ best attributes – cleanliness, safety, accessibility, and affordability – are going to be top of mind when navigating the new normal.”
Those attributes will be highlighted as part of Catch Des Moines’ popular “S’s Are Silent” video series, with a new video later this fall targeted at meeting and sports planners, highlighting the region’s venues, hosting capabilities and hotels. Catch Des Moines also shifted its leisure travel focus to the relatively COVID-proof outdoors, launching a new “S’s Are Silent – Outdoors” video focused on attractions like High Trestle Trail, Gray’s Lake and Jester Park.
Citing a recent survey by McKinsey which shows that 18 percent of Americans say they are spending more time outdoors, Ben Handfelt, Director of Creative and Communications says, “We wanted to retain the quirky spirit of the campaign, while being cognizant of the shifting landscape and priorities. Hopefully, the videos will make people smile and get them thinking about safe travel.”
Brock Konrad, VP of Marketing, says that Catch Des Moines has focused marketing efforts within the state, due to both budget restrictions and travel restrictions among states. “People that are traveling are typically looking to drivable places close to home, so this is our chance to reengage with Iowans who may not have taken a big vacation this year, but still want to go somewhere safe and fun,” said Konrad, noting that Catch Des Moines is developing all new travel itineraries to spur ideas of how to explore Greater Des Moines.
Some of the other initiatives that Catch Des Moines has led:
#DSMlocalchallenge – This “shop local” initiative was launched alongside the Greater Des Moines Partnership to spur residents to show how they were supporting local and took off to the tune of nearly X million impressions on Twitter alone.
Buy Now, Visit Later – People could purchase a $100 “hotel bond” to area hotels, which would mature to $150 after 60 days.
Raygun T-shirt – Partnered with Raygun to sell a t-shirt that was a spinoff of their campaign slogan that said “Des Moines. The S’s Are Silent. Our Voices Cannot Be,” with a portion of proceeds going to the ACLU
Virtual Vacations – During National Travel and Tourism Week, which occurred during the initial lockdown, Catch Des Moines teamed up with CVBs from Kansas City, Omaha, Minneapolis and Sioux Falls to cross promote “virtual vacations.” Catch Des Moines created a couple of “SOFAseeing” videos, promoting the idea if you can’t come to our city, we’ll come to you.
Local Resource Hub – Launched a resource hub that has transitioned from COVID resources (public health) to re-opening resources (venue guidelines, open attractions, patio listings).
Des Good News – Transitioned “Weekly Things to Do” newsletter to “Des Good News,” highlighting feel good stories and charitable initiatives across the metro
About Catch Des Moines
Catch Des Moines is the official destination marketing organization promoting and representing Greater Des Moines to leisure travelers and meeting/sports planners. Our focus is to increase visitors to the metro and elevate the visitor experience to drive economic success and enhance the quality of life in the 15 local Greater Des Moines communities we represent. For more information, visit catchdesmoines.com.