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Online Tourism Marketing in the US

What is going on south of the border as it relates to e-tourism marketing (since I am currently in Canada)? As Canada’s biggest tourism market is the US (and vice versa), I have been looking south to see how some of the US States are promoting themselves online. I am planning to do the same for the Canadian provinces shortly as a follow-up to this post.

Note: there are

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quite a few cities that do really innovative work, but I will not be able to focus on city DMOs in this posting.

Maybe a quick around national tourism marketing in the USA and Canada. While the Canadian Tourism Commission has been marketing Canada as one nation in collaboration with the different Provincial Tourism Organizations (Tourism British Columbia,

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Travel Alberta, Bonjour Quebec, etc.), the US has been more fragmented and the State Tourism Organizations (Go Hawaii, Tourism Massacusettts, Visit Pennsylvania, etc.) have taken the lead in marketing the USA. With refreshed leadership at TIA (Travel Industry Association of America), the US Government has approved a grant to build a national tourism website, DiscoverAmerica.com (currently SeeAmerica.org).

Here are ten nice US State Tourism website examples that I found interesting:

1. At VisitPA.com, Pennsylvania Playlists will let everybody—experts, celebrities, and regular folks—create pages that list their favorite places to play and stay in PA that link to details pages on visitPA.com. It’s a new way to highlight the best the Commonwealth has to offer while generating excitement for tourism and sparking publicity.

2. Oregon, one of my favorite state-run sites, tourists planning a visit to Oregon can build a personal travel journal based on places and events they want to enjoy in each of seven zones of the state. The site can then generate an itinerary linking all of them. This is just a great site all around!

5. Virginia launched the “Crooked Road – Virginia’s Hertitage and Music Trail“, where you can create your own song. A nice way to create buzz and stimulate viral marketing. Probably the first Tourism Organization that has been using the web in that way.

6. Utah has build a nice flash site (and has adopted the use of dot travel in their online and offline advertising). Their top spots site focuses on some of the wow experiences in Utah.

7. Texas designed a nice site (and I had to pick Texas as my 7th choice as I went to High School in Fort Worth, TX as a German exchange student 10 years ago). But the site is very user-friendly, especially the map and the TripMaker. I liked the fact that music is showcased, but was then disappointed that you cannot sample it. (no booking engine)

8. Tourism Massachusetts, rolled out the first of a planned 50 two-minute videos promoting venues like Cape Cod and the Berkshires. The technology, at website USAMass.tv, lets officials put television-quality video in front of millions of potential tourists at one-tenth the cost of European television infomercials. A bubbly British host adds an international feel.

9. Washington State created a very image rich site (possibly a little content poor), however very experiential.

10. Colorado also made it onto my list. A clean and easy to navigate site. (no booking engine)

Also, have a look at the blog post at the Smiley Cat blog, which took a look at the US States web representation online.

3. Hawaii began offering a travel guide last fall with 300 photos taken by native Hawaiians, selected from more than 8,000 submissions. The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau believes that visitors appreciate knowing what residents like to experience. (I agree)

4. California has a very user-friendly site that captures the essence of the state and makes it easy to plan and book your travel needs. I would especially point the nice integration of mapping. (booking engine)

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