5Q: Linda Parkowski, Delaware Tourism Director

It’s been more than two years since the Delaware Tourism Office launched its new brand, “Endless Discoveries.” What’s been the feedback, and how has it contributed to the growth of tourism in Delaware?  

The Endless Discoveries brand has most definitely been working. In September, FutureBrand, a mega-brand consulting firm, released a study that said it was one of the top two most impactful statewide marketing efforts in America. TV commercials under the Endless Discoveries brand have led to increases of up to 400 percent in web traffic to VisitDelaware.com from target markets while on the air. In the first year of the new branding, Delaware had record visitation (8.5 million visitors) and economic impact from tourism ($3.1 billion).

What’s trending? What are consumers asking for?

Online, social and mobile interaction when making travel decisions is increasing all the time. The tourism office has addressed that in multiple ways. Visit Delaware has strategically built the largest social media following of any state agency. A redesigned VisitDelaware.com is one of the most searched-for sites in Delaware with 1.25 million hits in 2016. The office has also put significant focus on mobile — from the responsive design of VisitDelaware.com to smartphone apps, like GeoSwap and Delaware on Tap.

What are some of the challenges in the tourism industry right now?

Tourism is an ever-changing industry. The tourism office continues to work to stay ahead of new trends. The office also works to share with Delawareans how they can be ambassadors for the state and embrace visitors. Thanks to tourism, the average Delaware household is saved more than $1,400 in taxes. And the many amenities and activities designed to attract tourists provide Delawareans with a greater quality of life all year long.

There’s a lot happening in your office. You recently partnered with the creators of GeoSwap and rolled out a new travel guide. Tell us about that.

GeoSwap is an incredible mobile application that allows users to easily find events and attractions around them. As Gov. Carney said, it’s “cool” and helps people see how much there is to do in Delaware. The app and the young men behind it are primed for success. The tourism office also just released its new statewide travel guide. It is full of incredible imagery that will make people say, “Wow, I can’t believe that’s in Delaware.” There are also many suggestions for things to do, places to eat and spots to stay that are great for visitors and residents alike. Finally, the Delaware Tourism Office partnered with Delaware State Parks to bring beautiful new, branded beach umbrellas to Delaware Seashore State Park. They’ll be available for rent starting Memorial Day Weekend.

What’s on deck for the rest of 2017?

There’s a lot happening new for summer 2017. From the tourism office, there will be attractive new geo-filters available at the beaches for Snapchat. And the beaches have so many new features this year. Lefty’s Alley and Eats is a fun option for a rainy day. Hudson Fields will host national musical acts all summer. The Big Chill Beach Club will give visitors spectacular 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean plus the Indian River Bridge, Inlet and Bay.

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