Jay Gray – Vice President, Global Partnership Development – Brand USA - met with ITB Berlin News during ITB Asia, and gave us a one-on-one update about the success of his organization.
For the first time, a Brand USA Press conference was held at ITB Asia. Speakers included:
- Mr. Jay Gray, Brand USA, Vice President of Global Partnership
- Ms. Reene Ho-Phang, Brand USA, Managing Director of Hong Kong & Taiwan
- Ms. Makiko Matsuda Healy, NYC & Company, Vice President of Tourism Development
- Mr. Peter Phang, Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, Managing Director of Greater China
- Ms. Dawnielle Tehama, Grand Canyon West, Marketing Director
- Ms. Tracy Vaughan, Visit Florida, Director of International Sales
Following the Press Conference, we spoke with Jay Gray about the present and future of Brand USA in Asia. Since 2011, you have been working at Brand USA on building a global representation network and establishing partnerships with international stakeholders to attract increased private sector funding and to promote the United States as a premier global tourism destination. What results have you had to date?
In areas where we have been running brand campaigns that we have run long enough to start to get metrics, we have seen a twelve to fourteen percent increase in ‘intent to travel' from pre- to post-campaign. We have developed a number of new partnerships.
One worth mentioning is BA in the UK, or Thomas Cook – also in Europe, and we have campaigns running with United in Asia. A great thing about these partnerships is that we can obtain specific metrics every time we run a campaign, whether it be TV marketing or a ‘fam' tour; we can measure the conversions, and the results have been extremely positive. How is Brand USA changing the way the world sees the United States?
Many people may have thought that if they had gone to the three, four or five iconic destinations, that they'd ‘done' the US. What we are focusing on is ‘beyond the gateway' or ‘gateway plus one'.
We know that those iconic destinations are going to be a draw, but instead of just going to New York City, how do we get people out of mid-town? How do we create those itineraries to take people beyond the specific gateway? Through our campaigns and through working with the trade, we are probably illustrating a lot more of the diversity the US has to offer and the plethora of products that are there.
We have destinations, activities and experiences that many international visitors may have never considered or though available. We are working on expanding what people understand about the USA and what that product really has to offer. That's what we're changing. How is this helping the US economy?
The Travel Promotion Act was created because of its projected economic impact. For every 33 extra visitors we get to the US, that makes one new job. If we look at the increase we have managed to achieve from 2011 to 2013 and divide that number by 33, that's the economic impact we have. It equates to tens of thousands of jobs. Travel and tourism is the number one service export from the United States.
What are the main goals of your presence at ITB Asia for the first time?
A big part of it is meeting with the travel trade and starting to create relationships and partnerships that will lead to future campaigns. A lot of it is around education and awareness. We have folks here from the Grand Canyon West Rim and Utah, which a lot of the trade people here are not highly aware of those products, so it gives us the opportunity to introduce new products and create awareness about them.
It's also about telling people who we are. Since the US never had a national tourism organisation before, and we haven't been highly visible in this market. Here particularly in South East Asia, it's about introducing who we are and how to develop partnerships here. If the result is just a one percent increase in tourists to the US, that equates to a billion dollars extra spending. Are you looking at expanding you trade representation here in Asia (i.e. recruiting travel trade representation firms here)?
In Asia in general, yes. This is a huge growth market for us. Japan is now our number one source market, and China will be our primary source market by 2018. Asia will be our number one source region by that time. So we definitely need to have boots on the ground here doing the education, creating awareness, doing the marketing, so that as this region continues to increase international travel, that the US is top of mind. Looking forward to ITB Berlin in March 2014, will Brand USA be increasing its marketing activities around the show?
Yes we are. We are looking at doing an evening event as well as another media event – on the floor during the show – and an event on the show floor that will be a kind of ‘taste of the US', with regional culinary specialities. It all helps us get to know the buyers better.www.itb-asia.com