Marketing committee cuts TripAdvisor from budget

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee took steps to finalize its Fiscal Year 2013-2014 budget at its meeting on Tuesday, May 14, by voting to cut the $20,000 allotted for the purchase of digital banner ads on TripAdvisor. In its place, the WBMAC requested that the town’s marketing firm, Clean Design, work with the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to find another digital platform. 

During a conference call with the WBMAC at its Tuesday meeting, Clean Design marketing director Tom Hickey said he would like to revisit the idea of the town buying the rights to own the Wrightsville Beach TripAdvisor page. The $30,000 fee for the page would allow Wrightsville Beach to have control over what ads and content is displayed. With the town not owning the page, any other competing beach town or North Carolina attraction could appear on the Wrightsville Beach page, Hickey said. Hickey proposed to use the $20,000 allocated for TripAdvisor ads along with $10,000 from the WBMAC’s upcoming rollover funds to purchase the page.

From July 2012 to the end of April 2013, Hickey said Wrightsville Beach’s TripAdvisor page has generated 2,166 inquiries about Wrightsville Beach and 1.6 million impressions — the number of times a Wrightsville Beach ad placed by Clean Design was viewed on the page. 

In response to the large investment Hickey’s plan presented, WBMAC member Pres Davenport asked Hickey if spending that money on one platform was worth it. 

“It is a worthy investment and it is worth making an even larger investment,” Hickey said. “We are seeing that people are going from TripAdvisor to hotel and visitors bureau sites … it is really upper funnel marketing.” 

Upper funnel marketing refers to targeting the larger pool of people that could potentially be interested in a Wrightsville Beach vacation versus only targeting those who are ready and looking to book a room. 

WBMAC member Sue Bulluck said she would rather see the committee invest in marketing tactics like lower funnel marketing that could be traced to generate data about what tactics are successful and unsuccessful. Bulluck also agreed with WBMAC chairman Jason St. Clair’s idea to either invest heavily in TripAdvisor and buy the page or not advertise on the site at all since the pay-per-click ads on the page were costing $8 to $10 per click. 

After Bulluck’s motion passed to use the $20,000 set aside for TripAdvisor on another digital platform, Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitor’s Bureau vice president of marketing Shawn Braden said she would present the WBMAC with an amended budget at the June 11 meeting. 


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