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Problem Solved: How the Right Content Can Supercharge Your Travel Website


Hanson Dodge's Katherine Schmidt and Ethan Koehler on how to tell an authentic, compelling story through a destination website

Problem Solved: How the Right Content Can Supercharge Your Travel Website

The winter tourism season is upon us. And with travelers bursting to get out and about, travel destinations will be fiercely competing for consumers’ hard-earned discretionary dollars.

The website is a destination’s primary point of contact with potential travelers. It’s like a handshake. And as the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.  

So let’s take a look at how the strategists and creatives from Hanson Dodge, a deeply-digital advertising agency which handles destination clients like Utah Office of Tourism, VISIT Milwaukee, and Grand America Hotels & Resorts, have gone about creating award-winning work that, most importantly, has spurred increased visitations. 


The oft used – and overused – phrase authenticity is actually the key to developing a successful destination website.  An authentic experience gives a site visitor the feeling of being there and is essential to convince someone that this is the destination they should choose.

The problem, though, is “How do you tell that authentic, compelling story?”


In our experience, the first step is to understand exactly who you are -- and exactly who your customer is.  To arrive at these answers, we suggest you ask yourself the following question:  “What Is the essence of my brand?”  

For example, Why do you exist? What do you believe? What compels you? 

Recognising those questions can feel daunting, here’s an exercise that we have found to be quite helpful in uncovering these truths.  To know your brand inside and out, we ask seemingly unrelated questions such as:   

● What car does your brand drive?  

● What does your car smell like?  

● Who is your sworn enemy?

You might be surprised by your answers.

But that’s only part of the solution. You also have to understand what your best consumers (travelers) believe.  We’ve found that psychographic data can be quite useful because loyalty comes from forming an emotional connection.  For example, for our Utah Tourism client, it wasn’t just the appeal of the state’s scenery.  It was their desire for unforgettable experiences that helped guide the content of their website.  In fact, it’s amazing what kind of insights you can glean from paying attention to how consumers talk about their brands and tell stories about their own lives.  These stories helped shape the experience we created along with our client partners on the Utah tourism website,



Now comes the real fun and challenge: connecting these consumer stories to your travelers beliefs.

What we’ve found is that the best connections occur when these stories surprise, delight, educate, and entertain. They make people smile, make them curious, give people something they didn’t expect, teach them something and maybe even compel them to share these stories with others.  

Once again, for Utah, we wanted to attract more women visitors. But we knew they were concerned for safety and were unsure which destinations might be most appealing and welcoming.  So we focused on how Utah offered them a transformative getaway through examples of women safely and successfully discovering and making connections in Utah.


But just because you’ve got your visitors’ attention, doesn’t mean they will come.  It’s time to lean on all of the other elements in your marketing toolkit:  social media, search, digital marketing, PR, partnerships.  And then to ensure all of these channels are working together.  

Beyond this, when it comes to how you treat the content on your website, the little things matter:

● Don’t overwhelm users with guesswork or too many options

● Consider the customer journey – understand and deliver what they need to know every step of the way

● Keep the content relevant – be really intentional about what you are putting on pages

● Pick your spots to make an impact

Visit Utah had four simple headings, lots of beautiful scenery, was easy to navigate and provided useful information. 

The results said it all:

● 80% growth in travel guide downloads

● 36% growth in site sessions

● 35% growth in engaged sessions (those lasting 4+ minutes)

● 34% year over year increase in domains linking to 

● 4.6 million unique visitors and more than 10 million pageviews, up 23% and 8% from 2019 respectively

Best of all, website visitors have gone on to generate an estimated revenue of $79.3 million in hotel bookings.

The website won the 2021 Mercury Award for Best Travel Website by ESTO (the Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations) and was recognized as a Top Website of the Month in June 2021 by Kentico, a leading digital experience platform vendor.

Problem solved.

Katherine Schmidt, associate creative director, and Ethan Koehler, VP digital experience and technology, at Hanson Dodge

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Categories: Services, Travel

Elvove Associates, Mon, 07 Nov 2022 09:20:00 GMT