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Rendell Announces Success of VISITPA

Governor Edward G. Rendell today
announced that
, the official tourism Web site of Pennsylvania, and
800-VISITPA, the official toll-free tourism phone number, have experienced
double-digit growth through the first two quarters of 2005 largely due to
innovative and effective advertising campaigns.“The goal of our advertising is to create more interest and attract more
visitors to Pennsylvania,” Governor Rendell said.  “It’s working.  More
visitors are calling us for information and more consumers are checking out
what the commonwealth has to offer by visiting our Web site.”
  An innovative and groundbreaking use of Web technology significantly
increased traffic to  Page views for Pennsylvania’s tourism
portal soared 44 percent compared to the same seven-month period in 2004, and
visitor sessions increased by 22 percent. Average page views per session and
average length of session were also substantially higher than previous year
  The rise in traffic this spring and summer has been a direct result of the
road trip blogs written by travelers in Pennsylvania’s “Real People. Real Road
Trips.” campaign.  The goal for the campaign was to maximize the visibility
and immediacy of Pennsylvania road trip itineraries through first-person
storytelling, while also being the first state tourism office to utilize
blogging technology as the focus of a marketing campaign.  By leveraging
consumers’ interest and the user-generated content in an online relations
campaign, Pennsylvania was able to drive a 225 percent increase in traffic to’s existing road trip itinerary pages this spring, compared to
  Other factors that contributed to’s traffic increase included
a localized guide to Discover Appalachia, a geo-tourism initiative from
National Geographic Traveler; the Blue Ribbon Passport to agricultural tourism
attractions; the Mountain Biking Team; an online amusement park
contest; and industry leading online marketing campaigns that featured rich
media banner ads, search marketing and monthly emails. Year-to-date traffic
for has also benefited from two earlier promotions. A Groundhog
Day Web cast in February, together with the viral site, and
January’s Cabin Fever Month “Stay One Night, Get the Next One Free” promotion.
The latter promotion helped ensure Pennsylvania a considerable increase in the
number of people booking hotels via the Web site. Compared to 2004, the number
of room nights booked on rose 141 percent.
  Call volume to 800-VISITPA for the first 6 months of 2005 increased by 18
percent over that of the 2004 and is already at 80 percent of total volume for
  “I told our call center operators to sell Pennsylvania rather than just
take orders for information about the commonwealth,” Governor Rendell said.
“Our goal is to create an excellent customer experience when visiting
Pennsylvania and that experience starts with a call to 800-VISITPA.  Callers
are thrilled with the attention and dedication that is available 24 hours per
day from our staff.”
  Call center operators received hospitality training to help them
understand how to engage callers for longer periods of time, resulting in more
information shared, greater benefits to the traveler and more reservation
bookings.  Call center operators, or “Keystone Concierges,” are now helping
visitors with everything from directions and attraction location to
accommodation bookings and destination details.
  Call center operators now spend more time on the line with callers seeking
information.  Inquiries about the state’s myriad of events, attractions, and
unique destinations surged during the first 6 months of 2005, and nearly
surpassed the number of calls requesting the Pennsylvania Travel Guide for the
first time ever.