Putting a Value on Social Media with Tourism

tourism travel

Pat Coyle and I met with the great team at the Indiana Office of Tourism today. The team has been recognized as the top tourism office in the country for adopting social media strategies – and it’s working. Pat and I will be speaking in September to over 55 visitor bureaus from all over the state and met with the team to see how they’ve adopted social media.

indiana-tourism-flickr-contest.pngThe Indiana Office of Tourism social media team is Interactive Production Manager Jeremy Williams, Director Amy Vaughan and Production Director Emiley Matherly.

Recently, the team has been running My Indiana Summer – a contest to capture the essence of visiting Indiana combined with strong messaging that Indiana and low fuel prices combine to provide families with an incredible vacation without spending a lot of money.

To enter, you simply needed to join the My Indiana Summer group on Flickr! Over 1600 photos and 200 members have provided an incredible montage of photos on Indiana as a tourism destination.

Think about that – over 200 members and 1600 touch points that visualize tourism! Now think about those 200 members and their extended networks… both on Flickr and beyond. This is an incredibly powerful social contest. Visit Indiana noted that they have seen a significant increase in site traffic due to the campaign.

Head over to the Visit Indiana Blog and vote for your favorite photo!

How do you put a value on Social Media?

Tourism is a difficult entity to monetize and specify a value for. Tourism departments spend money, but don’t have any revenue directly associated with those expenditures. Revenue is seen by the destinations of the hospitality industry… resorts, shopping, hotels, restaurants, etc. All of those sources will rarely report revenue (or can pinpoint revenue) attributed to tourism expenditures. We know there’s a return on investment – but tracking that expenditure was difficult to tackle… until now!

One method that I provided the team with was to put a value, instead, on the visitors who arrived at their websites. Luckily, there’s an entire industry out there that pinpoints the value of a web page visitor – and that’s Pay Per Click!

One of the finest tools out there is Semrush. You can get obtain the value of visitors by keyword using Google Adwords Keyword Tool, but the comprehensive reporting through Semrush can make it much easier – as well as provide you with insight into your competition.

So… if I see an increase of 1,000 visitors a month from Social Media and the average pay-per-click value of one of those visits is $1.00 per click, then we know that the value of that traffic is $12,000 annually. Now that value can be reverse-engineered to understand the resources it took to get that traffic. Was there a return on investment? Most likely – but at least with this methodology the team can get some visualization of whether or not the program was successful.

Kudos to the Visit Indiana team on aggressively adopting social media strategies!


  1. 1

    Pretty cool blog. More states should do this. Towns should do it!

    I didn't see the Auburn museum, but I only went a couple of pages back.
    Good stuff in New Albany too they need to cover.

  2. 2

    Great observation. I've just actually released a free guide to social media / social networking for tourism. The value that social media has for tourism is in the relationships built and the trust established.

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