Close to Home: Marketing a Destination Loved by its Locals

by: Bryan Douglas (BDS)
Assistant Director of Sale
Visit Aurora

Our award-winning chefs, craft breweries, mural walls, and Rocky Mountain vistas serve as must-sees for every visitor to Aurora, Colorado. However, travel restrictions and limitations on group gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the flow of convention, business, and leisure travelers to our destination.

As our team discussed the road to recovery, providing locals with the tools to explore their very own backyard became a reoccurring theme. Colorado’s third-largest city, Aurora, is home to hundreds of international eateries, craft beverage locations, and thousands of trails just waiting to be discovered. Along with the resurgence of the “staycation,” our new goal was to target Aurora residents with specific advertising content alongside fun things to do within the city.  READ MORE

It should also be noted safety and statewide guidelines remain at the forefront of the way we do business. We encourage everyone, both residents and visitors, to follow CDC recommendations, including social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing in public indoor spaces.

Local Discounts & Treasures
Who doesn’t love a good deal? In 2019, we launched a visitor’s savings pass, which is free to download on any smartphone or device. The pass is filled with coupons, freebies, and bonuses that can be used at restaurants, breweries, golf courses, and museums. By switching up the target audience, we encouraged locals to download the savings pass and use it at their favorite businesses. We’ve seen more than 206 downloads in the first week of our 2020 relaunch through a new digital marketing campaign. It’s a win-win – businesses will see more traffic, and we’re sharing must-visits with a new audience. 

Direct Mailing 2020 Visitor Guides 
Typically, we provide our 52-page print visitors guide to groups and conventions as part of their welcome package. However, redirecting the print versions to residents was another touchpoint in our new strategy. Each guide has specific dining locations, parks, and trails as well as ideas for local getaways. Paring each guide with a resident-specific letter from the Visit Aurora CEO & President helped support our new narrative – getting locals excited about places they have not visited before. 

Takeout & Delivery Webpage
The State of Colorado closed in-person dining in March, April, and part of May. We adapted by providing our audience with a new way to find takeout and delivery restaurants in Aurora. With hundreds of restaurant websites throughout the city, our Takeout & Delivery page became our #1 resource for sorting through local dining options. It also became another marketing tool for the city’s small businesses who, before the pandemic, relied upon foot traffic or word of mouth since many do not have funds to market themselves. 

Getting Involved 
The Aurora community is home to first responders, teachers, small business owners, frontline workers, and so many more directly affected by the pandemic. We knew giving back to the community was a top priority to help build a more robust destination for future visitation. The Visit Aurora team continues to participate in monthly volunteer events. This year, we have supported our local mobile food pantry, two local school districts, clean-up projects, and created care packages for families in need. Building a strong presence in our community was our way to engage with locals on a personal level while giving back to the people that make our destination unique, personable, and truly one-of-a-kind.

We know the Gateway to the Rockies city will see visitors in our parks, breweries, and museums again, but understand locals play a larger role in tourism than most realize. During this time of refocus, we built stronger connections with our local business owners and community members that will enhance the destination for future travel, meetings, conventions, and events. 

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