AdChat Interviews Slingshot’s David Coats on Agency’s Tourism Niche
Agency Launches “/Explore” to Focus on Travel
Slingshot Advertising has launched a series of podcasts whose subjects are specific to the travel and tourism categories. The Dallas-based agency has been working with travel brands since its inception in the nineties and has worked with major brands such as Texas Tourism, Hyatt, Port Aransas, La Quinta, Marriott and many more.
The podcasts can be heard on /Explore, Slingshot’s website dedicated as a resource to help travel brands in a relevant way.
AdChat DFW had the opportunity to sit down with Slingshot’s VP of Marketing, David Coats, to delve deeper into how the agency develops end-to-end growth strategies for travel and related industries.
AdChat DFW: What was instrumental in why Slingshot decided to dedicate this practice to the travel industry?
David: Travel and tourism is easily one of our deepest categories. We’ve been working with great travel brands since day one. We ran the first html banner ever on the Internet for a travel brand, way back in the nineties. And since then we’ve helped this amazing roster of travel brands grow and connect with audiences in very unique and innovative ways. I don’t think any other agency in the region can rival Slingshot’s experience in the industry. So, we asked ourselves, how can we take that expertise and put it to works in a way that’s of even greater value to travel brands?
AdChat DFW: How do you plan on doing that?
David: /Explore has a very simple, singular focus: growing travel brands in today’s digitally-driven world. We’re partnering with clients to develop end-to-end growth strategies that match their short and long-term business objectives. We’re also partnering with great resources in travel trends and insights, like Skift and Mintel, to create even more value for clients.
Solutions may end up looking like advertising, or something else entirely. Which is tons of fun for everyone at Slingshot, because it gives our people so much freedom to explore. The only thing that matters is, will it create growth.
AdChat DFW: Tell us more about the podcast.
It’s a blast. Our senior digital strategist Donnie Hogan and I are always talking about this stuff anyway. And we come at it from two unique perspectives. Now we’re recording those conversations, and bringing in other travel marketers to join us. It’s just getting going, but we’ve already put several in the can that we’ll be releasing in the weeks ahead. We’re always researching new topics, trying to keep it as relevant and interesting as possible to folks all across the travel industry.
The first is a discussion about important travel marketing trends for 2019. Donnie is a pure digital thinker and brings amazing insight to this topic. For the next one, which is about to go live, we brought in one of our clients, the CEO of Port Aransas Tourism. We started working with Port A right after Hurricane Harvey. They had over a billion dollars in damage. The island was just wiped out. We worked with them during their comeback, and it has been one of the most rewarding engagements of my career. Today they are back and building towards a great future. It’s a great story.
AdChat DFW: So the brands you are concentrating on touch all facets of travel?
David: That’s right. We’ve worked with OTA’s (Online Travel Agencies) like Travelweb ,Travelocity, Cheap Carribean and Dream Trips. We’ve also had great experiences with destination marketing organizations like Texas Tourism and Port Aransas, and hotel chains like Hyatt, La Quinta, Marriott and Wyndham. It runs the full spectrum.
AdChat DFW: What big trends are happening now in the category?
David: Experiential travel is the big one. The industry is evolving away from marketing the destination and towards marketing the experience, and for good reason– because that’s how people are planning travel today. It’s not where do I want to go, it’s what do I want to experience. That’s what marketers need to focus on. Helping them realize what that package of experiences should be, then connecting them with the right audiences is the number one key to the growth for destinations today. And this has a ripple effect on the entire customer journey, from planning the trip, to the trip itself, and beyond.
AdChat DFW: How are you attracting those brands? Are you pitching them?
David: When the opportunities come up, you bet, and we’ve already had some terrific conversations. But our immediate goal is to continue to build our knowledge base, and to work with our current clients to help them in more relevant ways. As far as potential clients go, number one is to be there as a resource for them. We hope they’ll engage with the content on /Explore and that they get something real out of it. If we’re creating genuine value for travel brands, we’ve done our job.
Visit us today at explore.slingshot.com.