Meeting Notes for the December 8, 2003 Meeting
United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board
Monday, December 8, 2003
- Welcome and Introductions
- DFO Julie Heizer officially opened the meeting at 11:10
a.m. MST, and turned the meeting over to Jay Rasulo, Chair
of the Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board.
- Mr. Rasulo welcomed the members, their representatives and
guests to the meeting in Denver, thanking the Colorado Tourism
Board and the Hyatt Regency for their gracious hosting of
the meeting. He asked Doug Jones, Vice Chairman, Colorado
Tourism Board, if he would like to say a few words.
- Mr. Jones thanked the Board for meeting in Denver. He said
international tourism is critical to the United States, and
is also critical to Colorado. He thanked the Board and the
Department of Commerce for its work to increase international
tourism via efforts such as the $50M promotion campaign.
- Rasulo said this was the third meeting of the Board, and
in order to have public commentary from the industry, it is
wise and smart for the Board to move around the country from
time to time. He said he anticipates the January and February
meetings will be held in Washington, DC but that he hoped
the March meeting would be held in Orlando, FL.
- As part of this afternoon’s agenda, Rasulo said he
wanted to have a discussion about future meetings as Mondays
are not good for some of the Board members.
- He briefly summarized the meeting’s agenda for all
those present, before moving ahead with the agenda.
- Update of Sub-Committee Work
- Rasulo reminded those present that he chairs the Marketing/Communications
sub-committee, and that several teleconference meetings
had been held between the October meeting and this meeting.
- It was during one of the sub-committee meetings that Betsy
O’Rourke (Senior Vice President, Travel Industry Association
of America) presented the SeeAmerica campaign to the members
of the sub-committee. He said the SeeAmerica campaign is
not a broadly integrated communications program, but one
that is very targeted and Internet-focused.
- He asked Ms. O’Rourke to present a brief update
of the SeeAmerica campaign to the Board.
- Ms. O’Rourke thanked the Chair for the opportunity
to speak briefly about the SeeAmerica campaign developed
for TIA by Booz-Allen as a result of the outgrowth of recommendations
made during the White House Conference on Travel and Tourism
- TIA built a brand, SeeAmerica, using a website as a hook,
to encourage international consumers to travel to the United
States. The website, www.seeamerica.org,
includes information about and links to the majority of
the travel and tourism industry in the U.S. Once the original
program was up and running, TIA then expanded it to include
outreach to the international travel trade through SeeAmerica
weeks in market, trade shows, educational seminars, media
marketplaces, etc. Today, the program stands at 65 events
held in 21 countries.
- This year, TIA has teamed with Orbitz, Hertz and Best
Western and the National Park Service, to feature “See
America’s National Parks” in a series of themed
programs. (Last year, TIA did a similar joint cooperative
venture with America’s Scenic Byways, that included
itinerary development for each state, and that still is
getting website hits even though the program is complete.)
- All told, TIA has worked with more than 400 cooperative
partners in more than 50 programs over the past three years
since the program’s inception.
- At this time, there is no umbrella consumer advertising
campaign in place (as there has been insufficient funding
for same). However, TIA had originally developed a “celebrity
campaign” whose theme was “When I See America,
I see ______.” Celebrities would have been asked to
complete the sentence and to allow TIA to utilize their
image in the print campaign that was envisioned. (For instance,
Tiger Woods may have said, “When I See America, I
see the luscious green golf courses of Arizona,” or
something along those lines.)
- TIA’s idea was to work with different celebrities
who would appeal to the various international markets, recognizing
that in Germany, Arnold Schwarzenneger would likely have
broader appeal than perhaps might Jackie Chan.
- O’Rourke said TIA would be pleased to “donate”
this program’s use to the Travel and Tourism Promotion
- A full copy of the campaign report was provided to each
Board member in both CD and paper format.
- Rasulo thanked O’Rourke for her presentation, saying
the notion of using celebrities was interesting, and that
the Board would keep that in mind as it moves forward.
- Doug Baker introduced two “promotional” videos
that had been previously developed – one by the Travel
America Coalition (encouraging international travel to the
United States) and one by the federal government (promoting
continued positive relations with peoples of the Muslim
- The first video was a 60-second advertisement introduced
in the United Kingdom shortly following the first Gulf War.
In it, then President George Bush talked about the wonderful
things to see and do in America, and closed by asking, “What
are you waiting for? An invitation from the President?”
- The second video was a 90-second promotion targeting U.S.
relations with Muslim people who had immigrated to the United
States. It was a “mini-interview” with a Muslim
business owner and members of his family, who talked about
how they had been warmly embraced by their community, and
how they had not been criticized and/or ostracized following
the events of September 11.
- The Chair called upon Martin White, United Airlines, to
provide the Measurement/Research sub-committee’s report.
- Mr. White said he was on the fourth week of his new job,
but that with the assistance of the sub-committee’s
working group members, he had discerned that the two main
metrics of the Measurement/Research sub-committee are to
measure the effectiveness of the plan, and to measure the
long-term return-on-investment garnered from the implementation
of the plan.
- He said the sub-committee had held weekly conference calls
since the October meeting and had already accomplished several
- 5 major consumer marketing research companies had
been identified and talked with about establishing benchmark
and post-campaign measures
- Assessed sole sources to expedite research procurement
process, initializing travel trade barometers in three
additional target markets (Mexico, Canada, Japan)
- A two-year budget was developed, which, while it
may change, at least identifies where most of the research
budget is likely to be spent; and
- An ad-hoc group of working research analysts and
marketing gurus has been identified to serve as a sounding
Board for the Measurement/Research sub-committee.
- Helen Marano was then asked to provide additional information
about the sub-committee’s work to the group. She started
by saying that all of the information being presented was
developed considering “full funding” status.
Obviously, some of this information would change dependent
on the outcome of the Congressional Conference Report.
- The sub-committee established the following approach for
the measurement of the $50M campaign:
- Install benchmarks to measure impacts of all activities
- Measure the return on investment through a mix of
- Invest in research measures to be conducted over
a 2-3 year period
- The sub-committee working group has spoken with global
research companies to see about the possibility of adding
questions to already existing questionnaires as a good way
to gain valuable “pre” campaign information
without having to start from scratch.
- Consideration is being given to a post-campaign survey
or mid-campaign survey to do message testing.
- Marano also said that benchmarks should be considered
as well as for measuring what disincentives are currently
in the marketplace that are encouraging people to travel
to countries other than the United States. Some of these
things should target the trade as well as consumers.
- Tentative research milestones have been established as
- January 2004 – Consumer Research Surveys in
Market (benchmarks on incidence, interest, awareness,
intent, “barriers”); Quarterly Travel Trade
Barometers (bookings – past season, future seasons,
“barriers,” awareness); In-Flight Surveys
- February 2004 – Segmentation Analysis (determine
strategic approach for targets);
- March/April 2004 – Pre-Test Advertising (message
- Summer ’04 – Fall ’05 – Repetition
of Consumer, Trade, Media and Ad Effectiveness Research
- Travel trade barometers are currently in place in two
markets (U.K. and Germany), but OTTI would like to expand
that to include the three other key markets beginning in
January 2004 as well. This requires working closely with
the Visit USA Committees and Commercial Service offices
in each market – inroads we were able to make at the
Travel Outlook Forum in October.
- OTTI staff is working on summary reports for all five
target countries. Handed out at the meeting was the summary
for the United Kingdom, so the Board could take a look at
what will be included for each market.
- The “next steps” outlined by the measurement
- Refine total research budget (estimated at 1-3% of
the value of the program)
- Develop measurement questions (awareness, interest,
- Contract research sources on benchmarking
- Determine “calls to action” measurements
- Further identify other sub-committee needs and resources
- Board Discussion about Rescission of $40M Budget
- Rasulo announced that there has been movement toward the
rescission of 80% of the funding originally slated for this
international promotion campaign. Since the original program
was to have been targeted to five countries, with only $10M
potentially remaining, the program will certainly need to
become very different from what had been envisioned.
- He asked Mitch Rose, government affairs specialist for Walt
Disney, and Doug Baker, to provide an update on this issue.
- Mr. Rose began by providing background on the program. In
February 2003, Congress passed an Omnibus appropriations bill
that included the $50 million for this promotion campaign.
- Now, the same thing has happened, except that instead of
including the $50 million, this year’s omnibus bill
rescinds $40 million of the $50M appropriated. (Total rescissions
included in the Conference Report equaled $200M, so travel
and tourism was not targeted specifically.)
- There are still seven outstanding bills for the government’s
FY’04 budget. Just before Congress recessed for the
holidays in November, they put those seven bills together
in an Omnibus package.
- Ancillary items are included as add-ons to this type of
package because it is viewed as a “must pass”
by Congress. Additionally, Conference Reports are unable to
be amended. As such, the vote is a simple “yea,”
or “nay,” with no debate.
- The House was slated to vote on that Conference Report package
on December 8, 2003. (N.B. The House passed the Conference
Report on 12/8/03 as anticipated.)
- Some members of the Senate don’t want this bill to
come up. Others obviously do, and that faction of the Senate
may seek a super-majority so that the bill can only be voted
on in its entirety.
- The Senate is slated to vote on the bill when it returns
from the Christmas holidays, on or about the week of January
19 (the day before the State of the Union Address), or perhaps
the week of January 26.
- Baker said that the intelligence coming to the Department
is that the supporters of the original legislation were not
apprised of this development. The Department is working with
members of the appropriations committee, and the Secretary
has reached out with his concerns to appropriate contacts.
- He said that because the time frames before the Board are
very short, he doesn’t view waiting for January’s
vote as a viable alternative. He added, however, that the
Board should have some conversations as to what it may recommend
doing in the event that the rescission does take place, though
he suggested that the focus of the meeting should be on the
issues being brought to the Board by the Procurement team.
- Update of Procurement Issues
- Baker reminded the Board that at its October meeting, the
OTTI team had said that the normal federal procurement time
frame for selecting a primary contractor was ten to twelve
months, but they had worked to whittle that time down to seven
months, which the Board deemed was still too slow to be effective.
Between the October meeting and this meeting, the team has
worked feverishly with other agencies within the department,
as well as with the NOAA contracting officer, to compress
the timeframe even further.
- He said the team was able to achieve that goal, and that
hopefully the DOC will be able to resolve the rescission issue
to maintain the aggressive time line that will be presented
at this meeting.
- He outlined the project procurement team, with Helen Marano
as the Project Manager, Isabel Hill as the Contracting Officer’s
Technical Representative, Diane Husereau as the Contracting
Officer, and Ken Lechter as the General Counsel. Other members
of the team include Greg Crider, Office of Acquisition Management,
Julie Heizer, OTTI, and Mark Highfield, Contracting Specialist.
- Baker announced that the evaluation team for reviewing proposals
submitted in this process will include three members of the
Department, and that two Board members (or their appointees)
are also being asked to serve as non-voting members of the
team. Those appointees are Michael Mendenhall, Walt Disney
Parks and Resorts, and Rita Cuddihy, Marriott International.
- Baker said there are many non-disclosure rules and issues
to be laid out that would preclude the Department from opening
the whole process up to the Board in its entirety. Issues
of conflict of interest for Board participation on the selection
process could potentially eliminate most of the big advertising
firms from submitting a proposal since they serve the members’
- In order to avoid that situation, and to get the best firms
possible into the process, the addition of two non-voting
members on the evaluation team seemed to be the most logical
way to get input from the industry, but NOT compromise the
- Baker turned the meeting over to Diane Husereau, Contracting
Officer, and Ken Lechter, General Counsel for their presentation.
- Diane Husereau reported on the Procurement Process. Market
research was done, with nine firms (both on and not on the
General Services Administration [GSA] schedule) being asked
to answer a series of questions and to attend individual meetings
with the procurement team. Primary issues were: general capabilities
of the firms, feasibility of using GSA or the feasibility
of using an accelerated schedule.
- It was determined that the most efficient process to utilize
in order to be in market by late spring, was to solicit firms
on the GSA schedule. This process provides competition and
allows quality firms to compete, but does not open the process
up to a “full and open” competition, which would
take too much time.
- Therefore, the schedule that was developed is as follows:
- Request for Quotation (RFQ) Release -- 12/19/03
- Response to Down Select Questions -- 1/7/04
- Initial Down Select -- 1/9/04
- Written Proposals -- 1/21/04
- Initial Evaluations -- 1/22-27/04
- Oral Proposals and Negotiations -- 1/28-30/04
- Final Proposal Revisions -- 2/4/04
- Award Decision/Senior Selecting Official (SSO) -- 2/17/04
- Congressional Notification -- 2/18-20/04
- Delivery Order Award -- 2/20/04
- Husereau outlined three issues that could derail the above
schedule: 1) There must be an empowered team that is given
the authority to make decisions necessary to move the project
forward; 2) an expedited internal approval process must be
upheld in order to get in market by spring, and; 3) a variety
of alternate plans should be considered in light of the proposed
- Ken Lechter said it was the responsibility of the Office
of General Counsel (OGC) to ensure that the proposal is consistent
with federal regulations, including fiscal.
- He presented several alternate plans for consideration by
- Request for Quotation (RFQ) issued under the present
scope (no rescission) with flexibility for downscoping
when, as, and if the rescission is made effective
- RFQ modified (downscoped) for release at $10M
- No RFQ issued until funding issues are resolved and
alternatives have been evaluated
- Lechter outlined a number of legal issues relevant to the
procurement process, and about which all Board members needed
to be made aware:
- Procurement Integrity forms must be signed by all members
of the procurement team, including the non-voting members
of the evaluation team
- The Board needs to be aware of the potential for Conflict
of Interest issues surrounding the selection of an advertising
agency for this project
- Fiscal issues are now more critical, as the Department
awaits final word on the rescission. The RFQ will have
to say, “subject to the availability of funds,”
and a full disclosure to potential offerors must be made
- The RFQ and an award decision must comply with the
statute and regulations established
- There is a potential for bid protests, which the Office
of the General Counsel will do its best to mitigate. One
of the reasons for including someone from the OGC on the
procurement team was to try to ensure that most of the
potential “pitfalls” had been considered prior
to an RFQ ever hitting the street. However, with the potential
rescission decision still pending, there may be some cause
- Husereau reiterated the evaluation and selection process,
including the importance of the initial down select. She noted
that the technical evaluation team would make its recommendations
to the Source Selection Official, who will be Doug Baker.
- The evaluation criteria to be used in the initial down select
does several things: Minimizes proposal costs for potential
offerors, streamlines the evaluation process, and keeps firms
with the capability to fulfill a contract of this scope and
magnitude. The final award decision will be based upon best
value and technical capability, with technical being more
important than price.
- Rasulo thanked Ms. Husereau and Mr. Lechter for their presentation.
He went on to say that the RFQ process is “not a cure
for cancer,” and he felt that many agencies would want
to submit their proposals, that no two proposals would be
equal in any way, and that while some may be able to be eliminated
based on price and/or capabilities, the evaluation team should
be prepared to review many responses.
- He suggested that hearing oral presentations in two to three
days assumes that the evaluation team will have been able
to winnow down the offerors by a significant degree. He also
felt strongly that the proposals must include at least some
level of creative design.
- Given these parameters, Rasulo expressed concern that there
is now insufficient time in which to accomplish the goal of
making an award by February 20, 2004.
- As a point of clarification, Helen Marano reminded the Board
that the Department is not asking for a strategic plan, but
rather for the strategic approach the offerors would submit.
The structuring of the strategic plan would be made in partnership
with DOC. In this streamlined approach, the key items for
consideration would be the personnel to be assigned to this
project, samples of work for international campaigns the organization
has created in the past, as well as that which has been done
by the creative director(s) to be assigned to this project,
and past performance. She reiterated that in order for the
project to be implemented by Spring 2004, the Department would
need to partner with the successful bidder on the development
of the strategic approach.
- Lechter said that the initial down select provides a stringent
set of criteria through which the number of firms selected
for oral presentations, negotiations and written proposals
would be whittled down to a manageable number.
- Isabel Hill said that within the traditional approach (8-12
months) was the whole concept of evaluating speculative responses
from potential agencies, but in order to get into the marketplace,
the project team agreed that the best approach was to go through
a strategic capabilities down select and then work together
to develop the strategic approach.
- Representing Charles Gargano, Brian Akley asked how many
firms were likely to respond to this RFQ. He said that the
first time the “I Love New York” campaign was
opened for bids, more than 100 firms responded. In subsequent
bid openings, approximately 50 firms responded. He additionally
asked what qualifications were being put in place in order
to perform the down select.
- Husereau responded that personnel, past experience, international
media buys and past creative development would all be part
of the process. She said that it is important to know that
the federal government only pays in arrears, not in advance,
so whatever firm is selected will have to have the potential
ability to pay subcontractors and/or goods and services invoices
in the range of up to $35 million.
- Marano said by using the GSA schedule, there is a somewhat
more limited pool of firms who have the set of capabilities
that will be required for this contract. (Research indicated
approximately 10 firms that could respond from the GSA schedule.)
- Rasulo said he was under the impression that there were
to be three RFPs – creative, media buy and public relations.
He also said he didn’t think anyone had ever hired an
agency based on their qualifications and not on the creative
ideas they would bring to the table. He said OTTI started
with a proposal that was outrageous in the amount of time
it was going to take to get an RFP on the street, and now
has come back with a good time frame but no way to get a qualified
firm out of the process. He felt strongly that the RFP (RFQ)
should be about the development of creative ideas/messages
from which the evaluation team could choose.
- Marano clarified that the three briefs that were previously
provided by the marketing sub-committee had been taken into
account by OTTI staff and the project team, and that the ingredients
from those briefs was included in the Statement of Work and
Statement of Objectives that have now been developed for use
in the RFP/RFQ process.
- She further stated that in order to streamline the process,
market research indicated that the creative development and
the media purchasing could be done by the same organization,
though some sub-contracting may be possible/necessary.
- On behalf of J.W. Marriott, Rita Cuddihy suggested that
there be at least two RFPs – one for creative and public
relations activities and the second for media buy. She further
suggested that these RFPs could be run in a parallel process.
- Rasulo asked for Marriott’s assistance in giving the
Department of Commerce the basis for parallel tracks. He reminded
the DOC that spring is not a good time to spend money in the
U.K. or maybe in some of the other markets as well. He added
that the Department should not make bad decisions in haste
– that spending the public’s money responsibly
to create a good program is the ultimate goal. He applauded
the efforts of the project team, but cautioned that perhaps
the team was now trying to move too fast. He cautioned against
rushing the other way simply to get into market by spring.
- Marano said that in order for the Department to be able
to accomplish the aggressive timeline that was outlined earlier,
one RFP is the only way to do it.
- On behalf of Barry Sternlicht, Sam Wright asked that given
the funding uncertainties, has the Department given any thought
to funding this program through general funds?
- Baker said that all funding sources ultimately come from
Congress. The seriously doubted the Department might find
$40M in unused money from elsewhere in the Department.
- Representing Jonathan Tisch, Chuck Merin said that most
of the firms who would bid on this project would most likely
be part of a large consortium or conglomerates who will have
well-established capabilities. He would, therefore, not be
particularly concerned about getting proposals from firms
that could not perform the work.
- He added, however, that the issue of having accomplished
something with the $50M that could be shown to the House and
Senate is a race against the clock. He cautioned the Board
to be “prudently expeditious” in ensuring that
the work of the Board gets done quickly, done well, and gets
appropriately reported so that the money is not lost. “The
wolf is at the door,” he said, and we may lose the funds
if something concrete is not done very soon.
- Akley asked if there was something that the Board should
- Rasulo responded that individuals would certainly be encouraged
to write their congressmen and congresswomen.
- He said that being caught by surprise is never fun. He is
frustrated by the process and with the time it has taken.
However, he advised that staff should continue to move forward
as though nothing has changed. He said “prudently expeditious”
is probably the right approach as the Board would not want
to have been able to save the funding only to have it squandered.
- Bill Hyde said that the Board has to recognize that we want
to have a program that generates results. We must invest wisely
and get results so that we can prove that travel and tourism
works for the nation’s economy. We must strike a balance
and deliver a product that produces results, as well as deliver
a product in an expeditious time frame.
- Chris von Imhof said that “Plan A” is obviously
the $50M in 5 markets approach. He then asked what “Plan
B” would be.
- Rasulo responded by saying that there are a number of opportunities
that could be explored on a “Plan B” scenario.
- Choose one country as a pilot for a full-blown marketing/
promotion campaign (though it will cost more money than
the Board would like in getting the creative done for
just one market)
- Decide not to spend any money on creative and simply
further develop TIA’s idea, spending available money
on placement in one or maybe two markets
- Spend the money on other things (such as research or
other programs already in place in market)
- Speaking for Bobby Taubman, Karen MacDonald suggested that
perhaps the Board should consider other promotions in the
marketplace, not necessarily limited to advertising.
- Rasulo said that he didn’t see this funding being
used for things such as trade fairs, but that there are other
potential opportunities, like motivational research, that
could/should be considered.
- MacDonald suggested that funding research that would identify
what will motivate international visitors to travel to the
United States would be of great value.
- Rasulo further stated that perhaps the money could be used
as seed money for other promotional opportunities, but that
certainly no hard decisions had been made. He once again thanked
the group for their work, and recommended that this topic
be brought up at the sub-committee level for further discussion.
- Market Insight – Germany
- Tilo Krause-Duenow, President of Canusa Germany, one of
the largest tour operator organizations in Germany, is a very
active member of the Visit USA Committee in Germany. He was
asked to present to the Board, the outlook on German travel
to the United States. (A full copy of Mr. Krause’s powerpoint
presentation is available upon request, and is included with
the Board’s minutes.)
- He said that while the number of German travelers to the
United States has not rebounded to its previously high level(s)
of 1999, but the numbers are slowly returning. He reminded
the Board that there are 83 million Germans who have the propensity,
money and desire to participate in long-haul travel, which
includes the United States.
- 2003 started with a strong increase, though bookings slowed
in February through April of this year. The Fall was again
strong, and an increase is anticipated for Winter bookings.
- The outlook for 2004 is for a strong increase in demand
(pent-up desire to travel to the United States). The “value
for money” argument is back, as the Euro is stacking
up well against the dollar. Tour operators are anticipating
45% more early bookings for travel to America, with more requests
and more reservations anticipated for winter 2003/2004.
- That having been said, there are still impacts on booking
patterns that can not be overlooked:
- Ongoing political uncertainty worldwide
- Safety still an issue
- Positive image of the U.S. is back
- Good emotions for the destinations dominate
- Increased unemployment has less influence
- Better economic indicators
- Stronger Euro – better value for money
- Increase in cost of living is significant
- Germany is still a nation of travelers:
- In 2000, Germans booked more than 62 million holiday
- Average length of stay is 14 days
- One third of all holiday makers travel by air
- Germans receive six weeks’ paid holidays
- Their desire to travel the world remains intact
- Travel becomes more global
- USA is still the #1 dream destination
- However, these emotions need to be stimulated in order
to turn desire into bookings
- Germans spent more than $5 billion US traveling to
- 47% went sightseeing in cities
- 42% toured the countryside
- 36% visited National Parks
- They stayed an average of 15.7 nights
- They visited an average of 1.8 states
- Their average daily visitor spending was $91.00
- German travelers are interested in:
- Modular and flexible tours
- Packages tours to make bookings easy
- Transparency and comparable pricing
- Legal security
- Money-back guarantee in case of bankruptcy of the tour
operator and/or American operators
- Quality for reasonable pricing
- Ideas on where to go and what to do
- Activities during their holidays
- No capacity limitation
- Healthy and positive environments
- Exciting cities to start their trips
- Krause said that Germans love to take long-haul travel,
and the biggest competitors to the United States are Australia/New
Zealand, South Africa, Canada, and Asia.
- Distribution channels are beginning to change, with the
Internet becoming more and more prevalent. However, travel
agents, tour operators, advertising, public relations and
trade shows still maintain their strength in the marketplace.
- The Internet continues to be a source of information, though
only about 4% are currently booking through the Internet (mostly
because of hesitation about paying on-line). 81% of all long-haul
bookings are made via tour operators/travel agencies, and
direct sales through tour operators is still an increasing
- Travel agents continue to be very important to the German
consumer as a travel distribution channel. There are nearly
16,000 outlets in Germany that account for $22 billion in
revenue. 57% of that turnover is produced by the travel agency
- Travel agents expect support from the U.S. travel industry:
- 78% suggest more advertising
- 78% want more road shows and educational seminars
- 75% want more printed information
- 72% want special contacts for trade inquiries
- 55% want extended websites
- Krause suggested that in order to reach the potential German
traveler, U.S. (and German) travel marketers keep in mind
- A “hip destination” like the U.S. needs
- Emotions must stimulate decisions
- The destination needs to be promoted
- Fulfillment (collateral material) will influence the
- Prices and coverage in travel brochures remains important
- The German Visit USA Committee has developed a “50
Stars” campaign in order to promote the United States
as a hip travel destination. Their 2004/05 goals are:
- To utilize the new slogan “50 Stars”
- Print a newly designed “America” magazine
- Produce targeted public relations activities
- Get support from the $50M promotion campaign
- Solicit non-traditional partners for support
- Increase the total number of German visitors to the
U.S. to 2 million by 2005
- Get more Visit USA Committee members to support the
ideas/programs of the committee
- Develop more and stronger joint marketing in the future
- The “50 Stars” campaign is:
- A brand/slogan initiated by the Visit USA Committee
and is supported by the committee members
- The idea is to jointly develop/offer flexible platforms
for different communications activities
- Target: Communicate the positive image of the USA as
a symbol of freedom, innovative force, individualism,
untouched nature and living cities – regardless
of any political or ideological factors
- All branches are invited to join
- There are five dream-topics to keep in mind when pitching
U.S. travel to the German traveler:
- Food and Drink
- Krause outlined the 2004 activities that are planned by
the Visit USA Committee, and invited the participation of
the Board and/or other industry representatives:
- Training and breakfast seminars in nine (9) German
- VUSA pavilion at all major German consumer shows
- Participation in road shows of VUSA members
- 50-Stars campaign
- Who’s Who brochure
- Membership listing for consumers
- Improve VUSA website: www.vusa-germany.de
- Planning of travel agent events for approximately 400
- VUSA activities supported by U.S. Commercial Service
- From these 2004 activities, the VUSA Committee hopes to
gain the following results:
- Stimulate the consumer to travel to the USA
- Stimulate requests for travel agents
- Stimulate requests for tour operators
- Send more Germans to our partners in the USA
- Increase income for all market participants
- Reach the best return on investment for all
- Increase the future word-of-mouth advertising
- Get all and more regions of the USA involved
- Krause suggested that perhaps the way to get the best bang
for the buck would be to have the contracting agency look
at existing campaigns in the various markets and try to form
one single international campaign from what is already in
the marketplace. He also said that agencies must rely on intelligence
from within the individual markets, as they are the ones with
their fingers on the pulse of what’s going on in their
- Krause closed by saying “If we ALL don’t do
it NOW together, others will go for our potential markets.”
- Von Imhof asked if tour operators were willing to provide
hard dollar matches in the marketplace.
- Krause answered that this was definitely the case. In fact,
he said, it is already being done with other destinations
(such as Canada). He said that all of the major tour operators
in Germany (DER, FTI, Canusa) are investing every year without
help from the U.S. With matching funds, he said they would
invest even more heavily.
- Discussion of Additional Coordinated Activities to
be Funded under Public Law 108-7, Section 210
- Heizer was asked to present an outline of a potential public
relations campaign that could be implemented before the advertising
campaign would be launched in the various markets. (A copy
of the powerpoint presentation is available upon request,
and is attached to the Board’s minutes.)
- A cooperative federal initiative in the form of a travel
writer familiarization tour program was outlined. The National
Scenic Byways routes would be used as the theme around which
the tours would be designed, utilizing well-known entry and
departure gateways as a way to also provide journalists with
insight to destinations they may have already covered, as
well as with new/lesser known destinations along the byways.
- OTTI would work closely with its federal partners, but would
also work closely with the destination marketing organizations
in which the Byways are located.
- Print and broadcast journalists from each of the five key
target countries would be invited.
- The timing for the program would be late February/early
March 2004, with five to ten journalists being invited on
each tour. The programs are envisioned as one week, working
itineraries. Additional tours could be implemented throughout
the year to show that the U.S. is a four-season destination,
and to highlight thematic approaches that would garner additional
earned media. The “shotgun” opening could be followed
by quarterly themed tours that would appeal to journalists
in each market. Future tours could be shorter in length, depending
on future themes, physical locations and destination intelligence.
- By utilizing the Scenic Byways theme, and taking into consideration
the normal psychographics of consumer travelers from each
of the five markets, a series of tours was developed that
also provides broad geographic reach, and includes well-known
and lesser-known destinations and experiences.
- The suggested locations for the five originating tours are:
- German Journalists – America’s Four Corners,
traveling parts of the “Santa Fe Trail,” “Historic
Route 66,” and/or “Grand Mesa” byways
- Canadian Journalists – “Creole Nature Trail,”
from Galveston to the MS/AL Gulf Coast or “Exotic
Island Hopping,” which would include the American
territories of Guam, Marianas Islands and American Samoa
- Journalists from Mexico – “Historic National
Road,” which starts in Baltimore and would end in
- Journalists from the U.K. – Oregon, Washington
State and Alaska, utilizing “Alaska’s Marine
Highway” and the Alaska ferry system
- Japanese Journalists – “Lakes to Locks,”
and the “Seaway Trail,” including destinations
in CT and VT, in addition to upstate New York.
- A variety of performance measures were outlined, including
the number of stories placed in both consumer and trade electronic
and print media.
- It is anticipated that the five tours will cost approximately
$375,000, but it is further anticipated that in-kind donations
from partners, destinations, and others would total $257,000,
making the net hard cost of the start-up round of five tours
- Board members would be approached to assist with goods
and/or services for the industry sectors they represent (hotel
representatives, for example, would be asked to help find
complimentary accommodations, etc.). Trade association partners,
such as American Bus Association or National Tour Association
would be asked to request assistance from their membership
on behalf of this program, providing interior transportation
once the groups were assembled at the various international
- In addition, destination marketing organizations would
be asked to work with OTTI to secure complimentary attractions
admissions, meals, and other goods and services that would
be needed to provide the journalists with a first-class travel
- The public relations staffs of the destination marketing
organizations would also be utilized to ensure that strong
local coverage of the journalists being in their areas was
- Cuddihy asked for insight into the thought process in selecting
the destinations that were outlined in the proposal.
- Heizer said she had utilized the country reports developed
by OTTI to look at activities that travelers from each country
normally enjoy while traveling in the United States, and then
tried to match up that list of activities with Scenic Byways
and gateway destinations that would mirror that list, but
that would still provide something “new” on which
the journalists could focus.
- Wright asked if this project could be done by the Department
of Commerce regardless of the status of the $50M.
- Baker responded by saying that once the FY’04 budget
is finalized, there would be a better idea of how it could
be accomplished outside of the promotion campaign, if necessary.
- Merin said he liked this plan because it would show a lot
of Congressmen in some of the lesser-known areas of the country
that something was being done for their constituents. A program
like this creates political tie-in, as well as political buy-in
from Congressmen who read in their local papers that the Department
of Commerce instituted a program by which international journalists
were in their area touring and writing stories that would
feature their constituents and their destinations.
- Rasulo said the program should not try to market to too
narrow a niche. The road not taken can be followed, but OTTI
should be careful not to get too far off the beaten path –
some of the lesser-known destinations are lesser known because
no one wants to go there.
- He also recommended that this program be reflective of the
overall advertising campaign – the theme/logo/etc. should
be reflected in the media that is generated.
- He believes the media will be interested in generating buzz
about the campaign itself, which would then develop additional
earned media opportunities.
- MacDonald suggested that perhaps Board members could take
advantage of speaking opportunities, such as the Canadian
Journalists Association meeting that takes place at the end
- Update on Criteria for Grants Program and Discussion
of Relevant Timelines
- Heizer was asked to present the draft criteria for the grants
- She said that OTTI has put together a grants team, similar
to the procurement team, in that there are several OTTI staff
members as well as representatives from two other Commerce
offices, including the general counsel attorney responsible
for grants law, and the acting director of the grants office.
- All of the information presented at the meeting is a result
of those grants team meetings, and input from the Board is
- It is anticipated that grant proposals involve the participation
of: two or more states, cities, or regions; multiple destinations
and non-profit organizations; and multiple destinations and
international tour operators and/or travel agent consortia.
- Suggested funding levels for the grants program are $250,000,
$500,000 and $1,000,000. Individual destinations should be
allowed to partner within one or more proposals without disqualifying
“duplicative” entities’ applications.
- Applications must complement the national “umbrella”
- Applications must include a research component for evaluation/measurement
of success, and must include “call to action”
- The program submitted must increase travel of international
visitors to the destination(s) and contribute to the economic
well being of the destination(s). Clear, achievable and measurable
objectives must be established.
- The statute that established the promotion campaign was
fairly vague in its mandates about a grant program. As such,
additional points will be awarded in the evaluation process
- representing multiple jurisdictions/regions,
- presenting matching fund, sub-committee cooperative
funding opportunities, and
- focusing efforts in one of the five key target markets
(Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom.
- A basic timeline for the development of the program was
- 15 days – Complete grant guidelines
- 30 days – Federal Register notification
- 30 days – Proposals written by destinations
- 15 days – Proposals evaluated
- 60 days – Grants office through to program office,
through to the Office of the Inspector General, through
to the grants being awarded.
- All grants will be awarded based on a competitive evaluation/competitive
award basis, and not on a first-come, first-served basis.
- Heizer said time could be saved throughout this process,
but she wanted to make sure the Board was aware of what the
normal procedure would require.
- Cuddihy asked if the grant guidelines were published before
the larger advertising/marketing/p.r. campaign theme/logo/etc.
were identified, could the grant recipients be made to conform
to that theme/logo/etc.
- Heizer said she had been led to believe that the grants
guidelines could be published prior to the advertising agency
being selected and before their creative work was completed,
but the attorney on the grants team said it would be very
difficult to force the grant recipients to develop their programs
in a complementary fashion were that language not included
in the original grant guidelines.
- Rasulo said that he thought the grants must support the
overall umbrella campaign. If the grant recipients could not
be forced to provide that support if the guidelines were submitted
prior to the creative being developed and approved. His recommendation
would be to hold off on publishing the guidelines.
- Akley asked if the grants were being opened up to include
markets other than the five key target markets previously
announced. Heizer said that grants could target international
markets other than the five key ones, but that additional
points would be given to proposals that utilized one (or more)
of the five identified.
- Merin said that while the statute may be vague, Senator
Stevens’ intent was to have the grants program support
the umbrella campaign. He suggested that if the recommendation
were to now “put the cart before the horse,” someone
should check with the Senator’s office to make sure
his wishes were being met.
- Rose concurred that the national campaign and the grants
program were intended to complement one another, but the language
had been purposefully left vague so as to not tie Secretary
Evans’ hands in the development of the overall program.
- Public Comment
- Scott Balyo, Rocky Mountain International asked whether
or not matching funds were a requirement for the grant program.
- Because the statute doesn’t specifically outline
a matching funds component, it will be used as an evaluation
criteria, with additional weight being given to those
proposals that include a match, but matching funds can
not be required. There has also been no determination
made as to whether or not the match has to be hard cash,
or if it can be partially comprised of in-kind donations
for goods and services.
- Dale Carroll, Advantage West-North Carolina said their regional
tourism promotion/marketing program, called “Mountain
South USA,” is a three-year old program in western North
Carolina. They have had good success in working with tour
operators from the United Kingdom, and are now working with
a receptive operator in Asheville, North Carolina. They are
being joined by the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau,
as well by as the tri-cities area of Southwestern Virginia
and Eastern Tennessee.
- He spoke to encourage the implementation of the grants program,
and to tell the Board they believe there is a tremendous upside
to pooling resources for marketing internationally.
- They will be strengthening their efforts this winter with
the U.K. release of the movie, “Cold Mountain.”
They are leveraging that release with a promotional program
- A copy of his written remarks is available upon request.
- Liz Doyle, Rhythms of the South (Nashville, New Orleans,
and Atlanta) told the Board that their Rhythms of the South
trade show just concluded, with 86 tour operators from 26
countries in attendance. From the research they did on-site,
70% of those in attendance said they booked business, and
100% of them said they expect to do business in Nashville,
New Orleans, Atlanta and/or the South.
- Their suppliers told them that the United Kingdom is their
primary international market, followed by Germany, France
and the BeNeLux.
- Doyle invited the Board to the south for an upcoming meeting
(in Atlanta, New Orleans, or Nashville).
- In addition, she said the rescission issue angered her.
There are long-term benefits and the economic well being of
the nation to consider, and this rescission ignores all of
that. She asked if there was a way to encumber the funds,
recognizing that that approach may anger some people –
but she said it was worth making people angry if there were
a way to retain the $40M to be utilized in the fashion for
which it was originally intended.
- Pam Gosink, Travel Montana asked if the grant proposals
had to be for new programming, or could they be for current
- She was informed that nothing specific had yet been
decided about that issue.
- Sally Pearce, National Scenic Byways Commission for Colorado,
said she was a member of the marketing committee for the National
Scenic Byways program. She said regional partnerships provide
economic benefit and education to participants. She further
said the federal partners that are working in concert on the
Scenic Byways program have great resources to offer, and she
was excited to potentially be part of one of the journalist
fam tours that was outlined earlier in the meeting.
- She said the Grand Circle will be developing a marketing
plan that will link the National Parks and the Scenic Byways
as a cooperative marketing and promotion program for both
the domestic and international traveler.
- Marano noted that the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
serves as the Secretariat for the Tourism Policy Council,
a consortium of all of the federal agencies who have some
area of responsibility for tourism-related issues. A TPC
meeting was just held on 12/3/03, and OTTI is working
to get the TPC members to add lift to any promotion/advertising/marketing
program that is put forth as a result of the $50M campaign.
- Gary Schlueter, Rocky Mountain Holiday Tours, said he was
a regional receptive operator. He said that post 9/11, there
was a great reduction in seat capacity to the United States
by all airlines. As a result of this, his company has experienced
several booking cancellations because international guests
simply can’t get seats to their area. He asked if the
situation of seat capacity had been addressed by the Board
and/or by the airline representatives.
- Speaking for Glenn Tilton, United Airlines, Martin White
said that post 9/11, the U.S. took a huge hit around the
globe relative to seat capacity. He was pleased to announce
that United has recovered to pre-9/11 levels on a domestic
basis, and that the international levels are coming back
around as well, but not quite as quickly as the domestic
- Rasulo said supply follows demand, though he said he
felt some things were still out of sync. He now has a
stronger sense of demand, which should point out to both
air carriers and tour operators that would encourage them
to begin to beef capacity back up. He said the industry
must create the desire for travel so the tour operators
and carriers can respond to that increased demand.
- White additionally mentioned that many of the domestic
carriers are still flying routes for military lift to
and from Iraq, etc. This has also impacted the carriers’
ability to add seat capacity, as it has limited the availability
of the airplanes themselves. He suggested that perhaps
this would be a good time for the international carriers
to be able to add capacity since their American counterparts
were, to some extent, likely to continue to be engaged
- Jake Steinman, North American Journeys, said his organization
averages 3000 tour operator site visits per month to their
website. From their comments, he has gleaned: There is skepticism
about the $50M campaign. He hopes the Board will be able to
reinstate the money as that situation will affect the industry’s
credibility in the operators’ eyes. He suggested that
if the $40M were rescinded, the Board must be ready with a
“Plan B” option to put into place immediately.
- He said that the fam tour effort was well thought out and
was definitely something that was needed. He said international
journalists are interested in “irony and things that
are new.” He believes the journalists would write about
those types of things and that they would additionally garner
a lot of attention.
- Greg Zuercher, Worldwide Partners, said that utilizing indigenous
agencies in the marketplace is critical for this campaign,
particularly for media and public relations activities.
- He passed out his business card, and recommended that the
Board look at their website, www.nolanguagebarriers.com.
- N.B. A briefing paper was received in the OTTI office immediately
following the 12/8/03 meeting. It was originally to have been
presented in the public comment section of the meeting by
Sustainable Travel International. That text is available upon
request (and is attached to the meeting minutes for all Board
- Next Meeting Date & Location Announcement
- Rasulo said that the Board wants to continue on its geographic
tour of the United States, and that there are several offers
from various places currently on the table.
- However, because there is some discussion that the second
Monday of the month is regularly not good for several Board
members, he has asked staff to poll the Board to determine
if there is another time during the month that could be set
aside for these meetings.
- The next meeting is tentatively set for January 12th, but
given the state of the rescission issue and other pending
items, it may be best that this meeting date slides further
in to January. He advised the public assembled to watch the
Federal Register postings, as all Board meetings must be announced
15 days in advance of the meeting. In all likelihood, the
January and February meetings will be held in Washington,
DC, with the March meeting likely being held in Florida.
- Other Business
- Rasulo mentioned a letter from Anheuser Busch that requests
the Board’s attention on the current visa waiver program
issues and the perception that America is a very unfriendly
destination for international visitors.
- There being no further business to be brought before the Board,
the meeting was adjourned at 3:25 p.m. MST.