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South Dakota Images Hit the Road

7/16/2009
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PIERRE, S.D. – The peak summer tourism season is well underway, and the South Dakota Office of Tourism has implemented several new marketing strategies to attract vacationers to the Mount RushmoreState.
The efforts include a larger-than-life marketing tool: the use of seven semi-truck trailers displaying South Dakota experiences.
This year also marks the introduction of social media in the state marketing campaign.
The truck trailers are wrapped in stunning images from all corners of South Dakota, including PalisadesState Park, Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Crazy Horse Memorial, rock climbing, horseback riding and Native American culture. 
“The visitor industry is a competitive one, and we are always looking at new ways of marketing, promoting and getting noticed,” said Richard Benda, secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development. “Wrapping the semi-truck trailers is a new and different tactic of letting travelers know there is a lot to experience in South Dakota.”
The trucks are owned by Sioux Falls-based K&J Trucking and can be seen on their commercial routes anywhere across the region and the country. The trucks have been as far as away as Washington, D.C., and as close as I-29 and I-90. The trucks will deliver an estimated 48 million impressions across the U.S. and Canada.
In addition to the truck trailers, the Office of Tourism recently implemented a social media plan that includes posting updates to social Web sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.  The Internet  plan also includes two blogs, one for a general audience and one specifically aimed at outdoor enthusiasts.
“Social media have proven to be an effective way of reaching an audience of influencers,” said Melissa Bump, director of the South Dakota Office of Tourism. “This is an audience that wants to share information immediately.  Not only are we reaching our direct network of Facebook Fans and Twitter Followers, but our message also is being forwarded and shared by these direct networks to numerous other people around the world.”
Other tactics included in the 2009 peak marketing plan include television, radio and print advertising, online marketing, and several cooperative efforts with visitor industry partners across the state.
“Partnerships are a crucial component of our marketing, not just during the peak season but year-round,” continued Bump. “Working together, our tourism funds will be used more efficiently and more effectively.”
So far, the 2009 peak season has shown mostly positive numbers (February-May, 2009):
  • Total inquiries – Up 12.1%
  • Canadian inquiries – Up 17.7%
  • International inquiries – Up 22%
  • Web traffic to www.TravelSD.com – Flat (same as this time last year)
  • Web traffic from Canada – Flat
  • Web traffic from international – Down .02%
  • Highway traffic counts – Up 1.9% (January-May, 2009)
  • Overnight stays – Down 1% (January-May, 2009)
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