Bloomington, Minnesota, is doing more than hosting this year`s Minnesota`s Governor`s Conference on Tourism to put itself on the tourism map.
The Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau (BCVB) has been working diligently to market the area to online consumers, who are expected to spend over $20 billion on travel this year, according to PhoCusWright, Inc., an Internet travel research firm.
Last year, when travel was starting to take a lead in online e-commerce, the BCVB contracted with U.S. Destination Marketing, Inc. (USDM.net) to provide online hotel reservations and Internet based destination marketing for the new Bloomington CVB web site. Bloomington is home to Mall of America, and is located between Minneapolis-St. Paul and its international airport.
“Going with USDM.net was the right thing to do,” commented Bonnie Carlson, CEO of the BCVB. “Last year, the BCVB`s web site was very successful in raising awareness of Bloomington and the Twin Cities as a destination, reporting over 400,000 user sessions and more than 30,000 requests for room reservations. And we have great things planned for this year.”
Leah Woolford, CEO of USDM.net, says, “Next month, we will be updating the web site design and launching the web travel portal—new technology that will give Bloomington even more marketing power on the Internet.” This new portal will provide customer relationship management (CRM) tools, personalization, outbound email marketing and a best-of-breed online booking engine provided by WorldRes.com - the Internet`s hotel reservation and distribution network. USDM.net chose WorldRes because of their robust functionality and stable technology platform for online reservations.
Beginning in February, WorldRes.com will provide real-time booking capability to the BCVB web site (www.bloomingtonmn.org) and will add participating member properties to its network of distribution partners, which includes Yahoo!, AOL, Delta.com, PlacesToStay.com and others.
“With the addition of the www.WorldRes.com
booking engine, we are providing travelers with a way to turn room requests into confirmed reservations,” commented Carlson. “This is where our investment in the web site and USDM.net efforts really pay off for our members, by delivering reservations dollars directly to lodging properties in our area. These two companies have provided us with a turnkey Internet sales and marketing solution that is easy to implement. For an organization of our size, it was more cost-effective to utilize the services of USDM.net and WorldRes.com than to hire dedicated staff to design and manage this in house. Plus our member properties get the further benefit of being able to receive reservations through WorldRes.com`s thousands of other web site partners.”
Carlson is incoming chair of the IACVB, the International Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus. One of IACVB`s priorities is to provide its members with information on how to compete in the rapidly evolving online travel market. Both WorldRes.com and USDM.net
are working with several other CVBs across the country with successful programs. The IACVB recently appointed WorldRes.com`s Michael Gehrisch as its new president. It is almost impossible to predict the next big thing in online destination marketing, but regardless of the direction it takes, you can be sure the BCVB will be there.