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South Dakota Deploys Traditional and Digital Tools to Build State’s Tourism Industry

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Memorial Day, the unofficial start of the summer travel season, is still weeks away but members of South Dakota’s visitor industry are already working to bring more visitors to the state this year. Their efforts are a blend of time-proven techniques and new technologies, working together in an attempt to surpass the record-setting $1.059 billion generated in 2010.

“You can’t use just one and ignore the other. It has to be a blend. We need a strategic mix of both traditional and digital marketing to bring in today’s traveler,” says James D. Hagen, secretary of the newly established Department of Tourism. “The bar is set high. To grow the visitor industry in 2011, we need to work smarter.”

The Department of Tourism is launching its new “Memories of a Lifetime” campaign this month in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota and Canada. Traditional media are being used to deliver non-traditional messages:

  • Newspaper inserts include Quick Response (QR) codes that are unique for each targeted state. When a potential visitor scans a QR code, Tourism will be able to track which version they’ve seen.
  • Print ads include maps showing the best routes into South Dakota from the targeted states.
  • Videos that only play when web visitors “engage” by hovering their cursors over the online ads.


Across South Dakota, members of the travel industry continue to use traditional marketing while increasing their efforts with digital marketing and social media.

Our largest spend is print media in the form of vacation guides, in-market publications, magazine and newspaper ads, maps and circulars,” says Nort Johnson, president of Black Hills, Badlands and Lakes Tourism Association in Rapid City. “Our digital efforts include an iPhone and Android app, our website, e-mail blasts, social media and a large role in the Black Hills Digital Strategy partnership, all of which are generally supported by our traditional efforts. 

"Our retro effort in 2011 is call the 'Road Trip Road Show.' It will use print, radio, social and digital media to enhance our face-to-face guerilla  marketing efforts. And when the smart phone apps launch, we’ll promote them in all of our materials – traditional and digital.

“We’re really digging into Facebook and Twitter this year,” states Hannah Walters, director of Mitchell’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau. “Traditional marketing costs more money while digital marketing requires more of your time, but you see immediate responses. Traditional media have a call to action like a phone number; but on the digital side, there is a quicker turnaround. It’s an actual dialogue about our community.”

Along with its partners in the Black Hills Digital Strategy group, the South Dakota Department of Tourism is promoting a special offer to attract visitors from Colorado.  Residents of the Rocky Mountain state, who visit partner websites such, will see a pop-up message offering a $20 Visa® Card, branded with Mt. Rushmore, if they book a trip through one of the partners and travel to South Dakota between May 1 and June 15.


Tourism is the second largest industry in South Dakota, employing more than 28,000 people. Last year, tourism-related activity generated 20 percent of all state and local tax revenue. The South Dakota Department of Tourism is comprised of Tourism, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the South Dakota State Historical Society. The Department is led by Secretary James D. Hagen.


Media Note:

For additional information, contact the following travel industry members:

  • Deadwood Chamber of Commerce
  • Glacial Lakes & Prairies
  • Great Lakes of South Dakota Association
  • Rapid City Convention & Visitors Bureau            
  • Southeast South Dakota Tourism
Memories of a Lifetime - FSI for Peak Season 2011

Quick Links

SD Department of Tourism


Wanda Goodman
Media & Public Relations Manager
Phone: 605-773-3301