Faced with reduced ad revenue and travel limitations resulting from COVID-19, Miles needed to come up with a fresh content strategy for the Kentucky Official Visitor’s Guide (one of the state’s main trip-planning tools)—a strategy that could build on the success of the previous guide and continue to elevate Kentucky as a must-visit destination among its key target audiences of families and older couples living within a 6-hour drive radius. This new approach required that we determine which sites and experiences would motivate these visitors to come to the state and highlight them in the guide.
A burgeoning body of research verified that potential travelers were seeking wide-open outdoor spaces, prompting us to adopt a Places & Spaces approach—a photo-forward design featuring newly shot landscape imagery and experiences in beautiful outdoor settings. We removed listings in the guide, divided it into themed sections (matching Kentucky’s key travel pillars) and opened each one with a stunning spread anchored by a full-bleed shot of an outdoor location with integrated text about the experience. This bold yet minimalist presentation allowed us to convey critical inspirational information without overwhelming the reader.
To amplify the guide’s outdoor focus, we devoted the tear-out, gatefold map to Kentucky State Parks and national parks and sites—top outdoor attractions. We also created a full-wrap cover depicting Cumberland Falls, one of Kentucky’s most iconic wide-open spaces.
The decision to remove listings and focus on inspirational outdoor content was the right move.
From its launch in mid-January to mid-June 2021, the guide saw phenomenal year-over-year success across all tracked performance metrics. Requests for the guide increased 98%; landing page views totaled 73,081, a 117.55% increase; online guide views rose 218%; and average time spent on page for the online guide increased 83%.
During the same period, an ongoing Facebook conversion campaign promoting visitor’s guide orders and views saw very impressive results: cost per click was $0.53 (average is $0.63 for Travel & Hospitality); cost per thousand was $5.43 (average depends on placement, but $7-$8 is expected); and there were more than 1.77 million impressions.