LGBT Tourism Conference Recap

Last month, senior digital media planner/buyer Justin Morris and I attended CMI’s 17th annual LGBT Tourism & Hospitality conference at Vdara. For more information, visit LGBT Tourism Conference | Gay & Lesbian Tourism Conference, but I’ve included our top 10 takeaways below.

 

  1. Inclusivity is key.

Whether it’s choosing a vacation destination, hotel or even place to have a wedding, the LGBT audience wants to feel included. This could be anything from brochures to messaging to a microsite. If LGBT travelers feel safe and welcome in your city, hotel, venue, etc., it’s a major win.

 

  1. Word of mouth and search engine marketing (SEM) drive travel decisions.

Bernadette Smith, president of the Equality Institute, spoke during the conference about research conducted pertaining to LGBT wedding planning and mentioned that 38 percent of LGBT couples make decisions based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The other key factors were search results, how well staff are trained (for example, do NOT ask two males checking in if they actually need separate beds if only one bed was booked), and if same-sex couples were featured in the collateral (ties back to point #1).

 

  1. Bridge the generation gap.

One way to do so is to be a part of the conversation/story. For millennials, catchy hashtags or emojis will do the trick.

 

  1. Be authentic.

This one is simple: If the message feels forced − major fail.

  1. Have a conversation with your audience.

If you’re posting content on YouTube, for example, talk to your viewers as though they’re in the room with you, not at them.

 

  1. Have fun!

Avoid ads that are too serious. The LGBT audience just wants to have fun and feel excitement when planning a trip.

 

  1. Avoid the sappy stuff.

Romance-geared ads are a miss. Instead, focus efforts on new activities and experiences.

  1. Families come in all shapes and sizes.

One key takeaway – don’t forget the females. Many brands’ creative strategies focus on same-sex males only; let’s not forget the “L”, people!

 

  1. Men vs. Women − There is a difference.

When targeting gay men versus lesbians, the content matters. Research found that gay men are more interested in traveling to urban destinations, while lesbians prefer places like national parks. Gay men also party more while lesbians love culture (per the research). Keep this in mind, depending on where you’re advertising and who you’re trying to reach.

 
  1. The simpler the better.

One common mistake is assuming that the LGBT audience is made up of primarily luxury spenders. Actually, most spending is middle of the road. In fact, per research, only 3 percent reported that they were luxury spenders.

 

 

TEDxMileHighWomen

Recently, I attended the TEDxMileHighWomen, “It’s About Time,” speaker series in Denver, Colorado. Describing it as a “speaker series” would be incredibly dishonest. For me, and I think for all 2,800 female/male attendees, it was so much more; a spiritual awakening.

TED, created in 1984, came to be by Richard Saul Wurman. Three fields of study drove his inspiration for what would become TED: technology, entertainment and design. What was once a simple conference, TED rose to success in 1990 and quickly became a viral video phenomenon. Suddenly, a community of people with passion to change the world had a common forum to coalesce around. Presenters include scientists, philosophers, musicians, business and religious leaders, philanthropists and others.

I knew immediately I was in for something huge as I entered the TEDxMileHighWomen event. Something that would light a fire deep in my belly; I could feel the match falling fast down my throat as the venue’s lights dimmed and the event began. The energy was high and the room was full of individuals who attended this event for something we all crave in career and life: to be inspired. This particular event included solely women speakers from the Mile High City, and it was promised that all individuals would leave with another woman’s dream at the forefront of their minds.

As the evening’s emcee and host, Lauren Casteel, CEO of The Women’s Foundation (a woman whose career and leadership I have admired for years), approached the stage, she said this, “We’re here because women didn’t always have the platform they have today.”

She’s right. Though our country has come a long way as it pertains to women’s rights, there is still work to be done to ensure that all girls’ and women’s voices are heard, and not just because we are begging people to listen. TED empowers women to question the status quo while nurturing their passions, and it acknowledging their fears, without judgment. It also provides a community that gives a voice to the “thinkers” and “doers” – who often feel undervalued and unnoticed.

Out of all the phenomenal speakers (there were 12 total), the moment that hit me the hardest was the applause that followed Christen Reighter, who delivered a powerful presentation that recapped her journey to become surgically sterilized. With this decision, she relived with the audience her personal discovery that society desperately clings to a woman fulfilling the assumed role of mother, without a woman’s consent; that her identity and worthiness is not a choice she makes herself but is rather associated with titles that are forced upon her. She shared the judgment she faced from her friends, family and even her doctors—some whom even refused to perform the (highly legal) procedure for her. She felt dismissed, silenced and vilified – for doing nothing more than making an informed decision regarding her own body.

When her presentation ended, all attendees stood from their seats and gave an extended applause, causing Christen to bring her hand to her mouth as her eyes welled up with tears. When our emcee Lauren came back to greet her, she placed her hand on Christen’s shoulder and said, “If before you felt invisible, please look around this room and remember, you are not.” It was a beautiful moment I felt so honored to be part of.

As a gay woman, I certainly find myself feeling invisible in society’s eyes. In discouraging times, I remind myself how fortunate I am to work for a firm that celebrates and champions who I am. After the November election, our CEO Billy Vassiliadis assured our staff that R&R would always fight on behalf of its employees to protect their rights and well being. These were words I needed to hear. To hear them from my firm’s leadership was poetic and gave me hope for the future.

Ultimately, all people deserve to be seen. Whether it be attending a speaker series, or reassuring words from my CEO – these are the moments that show me that I am not invisible.

GABBCON Recap

I was fortunate to attend GABBCON (Global Audience Based Buying Conference & Consultancy) in Los Angeles in early November, with the day focused on “The Future of Television and Video.” In the company of other agencies, brands and sales reps from various sectors of the media world, it was an interesting day of debate, conversation and learning.

The long and short of things is that the world we live in continues to get more complicated for marketers − duh. With the proliferation and adoption of technology into our lives, we live in an on-demand world, and because technology allows us to live that way, advertisers are more and more able to reach the right consumer at the right time. People-based buying has been incredibly buzzy this year, and will only continue to be as brands continue to feel the ROI squeeze and demand more accountability for their spending.

In the morning sessions, it was a focus on television − linear, IP delivered, VOD, addressable, PTV, SVOD, FEP, CTV. Enough acronyms? TV buying has become increasingly complicated due to changing viewing habits. Traditional linear buying remains the mainstay, but advertisers are showing steady growth and interest in these more audience-driven buying methods. Overall, sentiment among the group was that traditional television still has its place, driving mass awareness, but augmenting with other buying techniques has shown an upside for various brands. The other universal truth − programmatic or any data-driven TV buying is not truly programmatic; there is nothing easy or automated as the name implies.

Columbia outerwear shared an interesting case study regarding its spring campaign in which the company had a reduced budget but raingear sales goals to meet. At a time of year when rain is prevalent nationwide, but a budget that cannot afford its national plus-18 market approach, Columbia employed a programmatic TV solution. It has defined PTV as a combination of addressable, high-index linear and DVR/VOD, and connected.

With strong distribution as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Columbia used credit card data to target those who had previously shopped at Dick’s, in addition to a weather trigger to most efficiently employ its budget. In the end, this was a more cost-efficient approach that increased (relevant) reach, drove lifted consideration, and increased rainwear searches and product page views.

One of the more thought-provoking parts of the conference was centered on the idea of attention. Sony Crackle posed the question: “Is attention the new currency?” Sony Crackle commissioned a study with Nielsen on the effectiveness of its Break Free product, where viewers have a lower ad load within their Crackle original series. The results revealed that buying the more premium offering drove greater attention; viewers were seven times more likely to recall the ad than in their traditional pod. Hulu has been operating with this mentality for a few years now with its product offerings of user-pick creative carousel, sponsored viewing (commercial-free after :60 spot) and interactive spots. While there is a premium for these deeper engaging units, Hulu has reported stronger results compared to its standard ad pods.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more critical of the value of an impression. When you look at a yearlong campaign and the total number of impressions purchased, how meaningful is that number?  Honestly, not much. With banner blindness, ad avoidance and multitasking, just how valuable is an impression if a consumer isn’t noticing you? While I don’t think we’ll ever fully transact on the metric of attention, as an industry, it’s time to take a harder look at our methodology of measurement and what kinds of impressions we really want to make.


Winner, Winner Cynopsis Star Dinner

While winning awards in communications marketing is usually a team effort, there are awards out there that more than deservedly shine the spotlight on one specific person. That standout is our own Kris Cichoski, R&R’s digital associate media director, who was recently named a winner in the 2016 Cynopsis Rising Star Awards. This awards program is meant to recognize the best and brightest rising media stars in the ad industry. Way to shine, Kris!

 


A Plea to Share Your Passion

Clark County Department of Family Services needed help getting more people to consider becoming a foster parent. So, how do you show everyday people what a rewarding experience fostering a child can be? You make it relatable by speaking to things they’re already passionate about.

      

We created a campaign that featured familiar hobbies and interests being shared with a foster child. These miniature stories tell how there’s nothing greater than experiencing a child discovering something new. Images simply captured how a hobby or interest can open up both foster parent and child to a whole new, unforgettable experience. The ultimate goal is that audiences might even find that sharing their passion becomes their new one as a foster parent.

              

Budget constraints can often complicate the creative execution of a campaign, but when people are passionate about the subject matter, amazing things can happen. Eric Klein, a photographer based out of Chicago, offered to waive his fee so we could afford to have the campaign shot professionally. He was happy and willing to do so because he was involved with the foster community himself. Which just goes to show the level of passion and dedication that fostering a child can bring.


Turning Bad Gifts into Something Good

Just in time for the holidays, R&R launches badgiftsforgood.com. Ever want to send an unwanted fruitcake to the great beyond in pieces? Now you can. And, for every bad gift you destroy, something good happens: R&R Partners Foundation makes a donation to Communities In Schools, a non-profit working to keep at-risk students in school and on a path to graduation.


Nielsen VR Study

Selling Vegas in a new reality.

If you build it, they will come. One of the great lines in movie history is a nice fit with our VR efforts over the past year. The team at R&R Partners has been busy developing virtual reality content for our Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) client at an exhaustive rate, while consumers ate up the experience.

And while industry professionals have recognized our latest efforts in marketing the destination, most recently, the research community has taken notice. Early in 2016, we were approached by YuMe, a global audience technology company that was interested in using our VR content for a study being commissioned with Nielsen. The study was a neuroscience-informed research report based around emotional engagement across mobile VR and 360 video as compared to TV. Nielsen’s neuroscience team studied 150 people as they consumed VR content from Las Vegas and Disney across these three platforms.

The results were great and provided much needed insight for our industry on a new platform. Not only will this study help R&R Partners keep delivering impactful content, it will give guidance to the entire advertising industry.

A few of the key findings include:


  1. Likeability is higher for VR and 360 video.

 


  1. Guided exploration is key for brands and consumers.

 


  1. Emotional engagement in VR is up to 34 percent longer compared to 2-D.

A Great Place to Work

R&R Partners earned a spot on PR News’ list of Top Places to Work in PR in 2016! According to PR News, 2016 was one of its highest entry years ever and the competition was fierce, so making the list was no easy feat. We are included with an impressive list of winners, including Ketchum and Hill+Knowlton Strategies. PR News honored the selected workplaces at PR News’ Winter Awards Luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on December 6. Be sure to check out part of the Phoenix, Arizona office shown here!


 

Solid Work. Solid Foundation.

Throughout 2016, the R&R Partners Foundation has been on the move, continuing our work of transforming lives and strengthening communities. Of the great work being done for our Foundation clients, here are a few examples we just had to share.

Santuario De Luz

The first pro bono collaboration with our Mexico City office produced a beautiful and touching video for a hospital in Autlan, Mexico, which is supported by Carlos Santana’s Milagro Foundation. In addition, we produced a fundraising brochure for Milagro Foundation’s telemedicine program that will seek to provide the best medical care possible for patients of Santuario De Luz.


The Animal Foundation

We saw the completion of our two-year engagement with the Southern Nevada nonprofit that produced the award-winning “In-fur-mercial” campaign.


Flip the Script

Our anti-bullying initiative is alive and well, completing our first school year of working directly with local middle schools to create customized respect campaigns. Becker Middle School, Fremont Middle School and Greenspun Junior High School all had the opportunity to work with R&R employees to create their own student-led anti-bullying campaigns. All were a great success and have become works-in-progress as students continue with their R&R teams for the 2016-2017 school year. In addition, we have selected three new middle schools to work with this year: Brinley, Swainston and Findlay. We’re looking forward to launching their new campaigns in January.


Lastly, we’ve also made some exciting structural changes to our Foundation, including:

Our Employee Board

Because our Foundation is a reflection of the culture and generosity of R&R Partners, we created a board of employees to help ensure that our Foundation stays true to that culture. They have done a fantastic job this year! We wish to thank R&R team members Catherine Cole, Nick Vassiliadis, Piper Overstreet, Bruce Wilcox, Mark Sundermeier, Steve Wright, Monica McCafferty and Courtney Barrett for their service. We also want to congratulate and welcome our new employee board members – our chair, Jennifer Lopez, James Coleman, Melissa Keegan and Mandy Walsh.


Employee-Directed Giving Fund

This year, the Foundation established an employee-directed giving fund that matches the amount of money an employee chooses to donate to a charity, up to $100. We expect this fund will benefit some great causes that our employees care deeply about. Go R&R!

Final Presidential Debate Brings Fireworks and Priceless Vegas Publicity

Oct. 19 saw one of the most important events ever to happen in Las Vegas. It wasn’t CES, Garth Brooks at the T-Mobile Center, or the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight − it was the final presidential debate of the 2016 election. Regardless of how each candidate was seen as performing, and regardless of who will win on Nov. 9, the event is already a success for Las Vegas, both the brand and the community many of us call home.

debate1

Las Vegas has never before been seen as a natural fit for this type of large political event. A U.S. president had never visited Las Vegas until 1935, when FDR opened the Hoover Dam. The area has been talked about as a host site for both the Republican and Democratic national conventions since at least the 1980s, but the city’s largest venue at the time, the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus, was considered not large enough.

tm

That all has started to change recently. Las Vegas hosted primary debates for both the Democratic and Republican parties. Nevada’s battleground-state status and diversity of economics, ethnicity and geography make it a valuable bellwether campaign stop and an attractive venue for candidates. While presidents are no longer a rare sight in Las Vegas, the debate was a unique event. It’s also the first collaboration between a university and a destination marketing body to hold one of these events. The LVCVA and UNLV partnered together throughout the process to secure and produce the Las Vegas debate.debate3

105052_02_busdev_16_gpalvpresdebateinfographic_dig-01

Here are some key facts about the debate held on Oct. 19:

  • Two years prior to the event, potential host sites begin by getting their applications to the Commission on Presidential Debates, the nonpartisan body that organizes the general election debates. The criteria is incredibly strict and detailed, and the criteria for selection is 19 pages long.
  • 16 other communities applied for the privilege of hosting one of the three presidential and one vice presidential debates in 2016. Most of the debate sites have historically been universities.
  • Four host sites were chosen − The Wright State University in Ohio, Longwood University in Virginia, Washington University in Missouri, and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Wright State pulled out of the debates in July 2016, and Hofstra University in Long Island, N.Y., was chosen as a replacement.
  • Two of the 2016 hosts had held presidential debates before. Hofstra has held three consecutive presidential debates since 2008. Washington University has hosted five different presidential and vice presidential debates.
  • $85 million worth of worldwide publicity for Las Vegas was generated by September 2016, with the final number still being tabulated and expected to peak at well over $100 million.
  • 5,000 journalists from around the world traveled to Las Vegas to cover the final presidential debate, most staying for almost a full week. This was double the expected figure.
  • Three TV networks, CNN, Bloomberg and MSNBC, broadcast from the UNLV campus in the days leading up to the debate.
  • 6 million TV viewers watched the evening’s debate, the third most watched TV debate of all time.

The general feeling among political pundits and local observers was that the debate was a resounding success, and that the publicity value for both the university and the destination is priceless. With many experts predicting that we will be the site of a future national political convention − its further proof to what those of us who understand Las Vegas already know. Whether it’s the world’s best tourist destination, the center of most industries’ leading business events, or one of the most vibrant political scenes in the country − Las Vegas is always the right place to be.