Our Brand USA team here at Miles has recently been working on cover options for the 2014 Discover America Inspiration Guide. As with any creative process, there are rounds of internal review, followed by client review to ensure that we end up with powerful, memorable covers. A vital part of our review process this year was connecting with Brand USA’s in-country reps (also known as GSAs) for their feedback. Where there was no in-country rep, we reached out through other in-market contacts to gain audience-specific reactions to the proposed cover images.
Here are some images that are being considered for the 2014 covers: Navajo Nation, Arizona; © Charlie Munsey/Corbis Windy Point, Mt. Lemmon, Arizona; © ThinkStock/Jaime Williams New Orleans, Louisiana; © Bob Krist/Corbis Despite cultural differences and variations in travel patterns in these international markets, it was interesting that one theme came back strongly in the in-country reps’ comments: that the surprising, unexpected and unique was valued over images that would more easily be seen as a recognizable U.S. destination, landmark or travel experience. This theme was strongest in established markets, but emerging markets shared similar thoughts. It seems that everyone wants an element of surprise and delight in their travel planning experience. Comments included: “This tells a story!” “Our team likes this image because it is refreshing, unique and unexpected.” “This is grand nature.” “This shows the U.S. ready to be explored.” “Discovery is an important theme.” With global competition for international travelers more fierce than ever before, and with our National Travel & Tourism Strategy establishing a goal of welcoming 100 million international visitors to the U.S. annually by the end of 2021, the theme of “surprise and delight” is relevant to most destination marketing organizations’ efforts. In established international markets for the U.S., we must overcome the perception of “been there, done that” with the theme of discovery. This doesn’t mean diverging from the key drivers for specific international audiences in lieu of something thought-provoking but which doesn’t create appetite for travel. For example, authentic cultural experiences and nature will continue to be powerful drivers for German consumers; warm weather getaways will continue to appeal to Canadians. But it does mean reviewing our creative to make sure there is some shift in perspective, a fresh look at what’s on offer here. With emerging markets where consumers have less knowledge of U.S. travel, iconic images may be more relevant, but we can still incorporate a creative twist in the visuals. Here’s to the impending arrival of 100 million international visitors!