Marketing Lessons from WIGCOT: Embrace Change or Else

Boelter + Lincoln, Blog, WIGCOT2016

As a marketer in the travel and tourism industry, you know that spring and summer are right around the corner when 1,000 industry professionals converge on a destination for the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism (WIGCOT).

The theme of this year’s conference, held at Ho-Chunk Casino in Wisconsin Dells, was “Better Together.” But based on messages from keynote speakers, it should have been “Embrace Change or Else…”

On the first day there was the obligatory millennial-focused keynote by Josh Tickell. His speech can be summed up in a few bullets:

  • Generation Y is entering the workforce by the millions
  • Their motivations are different than Gen-Xers and Boomers
  • Don’t judge your millennial employees by their Facebook posts from the weekend – they are not meant for you (although smart millennials will filter what they want you to see)
  • Recognition, mentorship and team-focused approaches go a long way with this group

On day two, Shaun Aukland from Google opened everyone’s eyes to the importance of mobile for the tourism industry. It’s amazing that the mobile conversation is still happening in 2016, which ultimately shows that the industry is still not there yet. Shaun showed some Google predictions for searches related to Wisconsin Travel in the next two years. Not only will searches on mobile increase, so will conversions and bookings.

On average, consumers have about a 3-second attention span for a website page to load. If your website doesn’t load fast enough, they will find a competitor’s who will – costing you a sale or a booking.

He also shared the Google Page Insights tool with everyone in the room. On a scale from 1 to 100, this tool shows how fast your website loads on all devices and even gives suggestions on what to fix. There was unease in the room as Shaun provided industry website rankings. Not exactly a great time to find out your site isn’t performing to the liking of Google. (There were probably a lot of emails and furious texts flying around the room at that moment.)

Shaun’s presentation was a good reminder that Google is a great research resource for not only the travel industry, but all industries. He talked about Google Micro-Moments that we as an advertising agency have been discussing since last year. Micro-moments are those short bursts of time when someone is searching on their mobile device because they want to know something, go somewhere, do something or share something. They are doing this in line at the grocery store, in the doctor’s waiting room or literally walking down the street. Consumers no longer need to wait until they are home to do this research. We need to make sure that we are in front of these people when they are in these micro-moments.

Hopefully, as an industry, we all make the changes necessary to give potential visitors the best experience that we can online. Those that make the changes the fastest will benefit the most.