October 13, 2016 North Dakota Tourism E-Newsletter

Keep up on the latest tourism industry news impacting North Dakota


2016 Tourism Stakeholders Summit
2016 Governor's Photo Contest
Travel Updates
Tell Me Something Good
Buyer Beware






  • Thanks to the 80-plus tourism partners who attended our Industry Summit last week in Bismarck. This annual gathering provides a great opportunity for us to not only present the upcoming media plan but also discuss ways we can collaborate and learn from each other. Below is a quick summary for those who were unable to attend. 
  • CVBs met with Tax Department officials to learn more about tax collection methods and determine ways to better forecast and plan revenue.
  • Destination Marketing Association of North Dakota (DMAND) held a regular business meeting which included extensive discussions on positioning tourism for more prominence, the annual conference, supporting other initiatives and a new format for future meetings which will include round-table discussions.
  • Tourism Alliance Partnership (TAP) met to finalize an outreach plan to attract a broader membership base and finalize its 2017 legislative agenda.

State of the Industry

I provided a realistic look at our challenges and opportunities. The growth in traffic to our attractions, parks and visitor centers, along with strong growth in taxes collected from the arts, entertainment and recreation sector, is promising. The number of Canadian visitors crossing the border seems to be leveling off as well. Hotel occupancies continue to be a challenge with the YTD at 49.2% through August. The Average Daily Rate sat at $84.74, which is $11 below the regional average but up 17% since 2010. Highlights from the 2016 marketing include:

  • Huge success with launch of campaign featuring Josh Duhamel, earning 1 billion impressions
  • Website traffic up 4% over last year’s record high
  • Organic traffic to the site is still #1 and up another 10%
  • Television referrals to the site are up 427% and strong in all key markets
  • The paid digital campaign garnered 80 million impressions and more than 248,800 click-throughs
  • Owned digital and social channels received 20 million impressions and 1.4 million video completions
  • Arrivalist has tracked 10,888 arrivals in state (and counting).

The state tourism budget outlook is bleak. The budget submitted (but not yet ratified) is at $9.5 million which is a 26% decrease from 2015-2017. This is due to one-time programs being removed ($2M) and the additional $1.4 million reduction requested by the Governor. We have requested optional dollars to sustain regional and international marketing efforts.

Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley addressed the group and discussed the importance of advocacy to sustaining tourism. He cited the continued need to fund tourism as a way to diversify the state’s economy and improve our residents' quality of life. Dana Bohn and several CVB directors presented TAP’s goals and plan to sustaining current budget levels for the tourism division. The tourism staff then had a lot of fun by using a presidential debate theme to present updates on their program areas and specifically address how partners can save money by accessing and partnering with the state in specific program areas. 

Mike Pierce, chief digital officer with Odney, presented updates and trends in digital advertising and Heather LeMoine presented exciting new data that shows how our digital advertising on mobile can now be tracked to determine interactions with ads and determine when that traveler arrives in state.

2017 Media Plan Highlights

Target markets and key strategies remain the same.

  • Television – expanding to five weeks in Minnesota and Wisconsin
  • Eliminating the fall newspaper insert
  • Adding full page in Chicago Tribune
  • Seven new magazine titles
  • Chicago O’Hare Airport
  • New digital includes Minneapolis Star Tribune and Chicago Tribune
  • Sports marketing emphasis: Fox Sports North Twins program with Marney Gellner; leveraging NSDU football success; UND vs. Minnesota hockey additions for 2016-17-18; US Bank Stadium and Vikings package
  • New Program Announced: Cooperative Advertising Grants



First Lady Betsy Dalrymple has recognized the winning photographs and honorable mentions from the 13th annual North Dakota Governor’s Photo Contest in a ceremony in Memorial Hall of the North Dakota Capitol building. Joining the First Lady in the presentation were North Dakota Tourism Director Sara Otte Coleman, North Dakota Council on the Arts (NDCA) Executive Director Beth Gigante Klingenstein and AAA Senior Public Affairs Representative Gene LaDoucer.

The contrasting colors of “Watching the Sunset at Double Ditch” catches the attention of a viewer and encourages us all to take a moment to enjoy the beauty all around us, earning Nick Hornbacher of Bismarck the Best of Show and People category awards. (Gene LaDoucer of AAA and the First Lady are shown with the winning photo) This year’s contest set a record with 1,382 photo entries and the most popular category was scenery. Click here for a list of winners and honorable mentions


Travel Updates


Tell Me Something Good

  • President Obama has signed the NATIVE (Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience) Act. The act requires the departments of Commerce and Interior and other federal agencies with recreational travel or tourism functions to update management plans and tourism initiatives to include Indian tribes, tribal organizations and Native Hawaiian organizations.
  • A marketing boot camp for aspiring and existing Native Entrepreneurs will be he held Nov. 3 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the Radisson Inn in Bismarck. Go to www.NDIBA.com to register.
  • Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site has received the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaborations Pinnacle Award for 2015-16. It marks the third straight year of earning the award.
  • The Enchanted Highway was featured on Dateline NBC.
  • ManTrippin recently chose Devils Lake as one of the best fishing spots in the United States


Buyer Beware

Stakeholders are reminded to do your homework if you are approached about buying advertisements in "official" North Dakota Tourism print materials. Clark Van Horn of North Dakota Living is the only vendor selling advertisements on behalf on the North Dakota Tourism Division. Please spread the word to watch out for imposters or those working on behalf of other "unofficial" publications. Contact Clark for more information.