How to Leverage The New Media Math for Destination Marketers

By Warren R. Wilkinson, Barkley

What a difference a year, or even a month makes. Destination travel’s seismic shift from empty streets and hotels, to teeming beaches, parks and resorts and talks of revenge travel is mind boggling.  And when you consider most if not all DMO budgets have been slashed as a result of the pandemic makes their media dollars more valuable than ever before. Simultaneously, prospective visitors are expecting more from destinations when making their travel decisions. It’s no longer enough only to pour money into a healthy production budget for one TV, a couple digital assets  and a radio spot, while buying as many impressions as your budget allows. 

Modern travelers expect so much more from destination brands vying for their attention. With today’s proliferated channels and opportunities to experience a brands’ purpose, consumers have less time and frankly less desire to spend time with brands that aren’t engaging. The more we know about our travelers’ channel and engagement preferences, the more creative our media expressions should be. Leaning into media’s experiential tools gives destinations a new way to think about how to stretch their media dollars. A destination should now customize its messages and expressions to different segments through different actions and content across a large spectrum of channels and engagements, separating it from the crowd. New Media Math for Destination Marketing Executives

At Barkley, we approach this new world by considering all elements and possible expressions of a media campaign at once. Creative ideas aren’t separated from their placements; in fact, we customize the idea for the placements and engagement tools that are best suited to potential travelers. And we measure all elements of marketing as part of the media spend, not only the scale. By putting the pressure for success on all areas of marketing departments, from research, to strategy, to creative, communications, and media, we’re forcing ourselves to be much more focused on making sure the idea, timing, and expression are right for each of our prospective visitor audiences. 

We call this shift, New Media Math. And it’s changing the way we think about media. It’s not a placement, it’s an idea. It’s not a buy, it’s an opportunity. By focusing on expressions rather than a “spot,” we come up with innovative and engaging ways that catch and keep travelers’ attention no matter what phase they’re in, from dreaming to researching to booking to experiencing and remembering. 

Collaboration and integration is required, not a cliche. New Media Math is based on the premise that we can not separate an idea from its channel and expression, which means all teams have a hand in crafting a full and engaging communications and media plan. 


With the travel recovery in full swing in most destinations and the historic turmoil to our industry  behind us.  DMO’s have  a difficult path forward for marketing leaders recalibrating reduced budgets and helping steer their organizations in the right direction using their understanding of their visitors behaviors and actions to reach future travelers.  Leveraging this new media math mindset will help your organization optimize its media budgets and drive the greatest return on marketing investment to support the communities they serve, attracting more visitors that drive a positive economic impact. Please click on this link to learn more about New Media Math for destination marketing. New Media Math for Destination Marketing executives

About the Author

Warren Wilkinson headshot
Warren Wilkinson
Vice President, Travel & Tourism
Barkley
A passionate travel and tourism advocate currently leading growth efforts within the travel and tourism practice at Barkley. Prior to his joining the agency he served as the Managing Director for the global travel and tourism practice for MBuy a division of Mediaocean developing profitable relationships with Discover Los Angeles, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and Museum of Science and Industry. Mr. Wilkinson also served as Chief Marketing Officer for Choose Chicago, one of the largest DMO’s in the country. Prior to joining Choose Chicago Wilkinson served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Visit Indy.