U.S. Travel Unveils Vote Travel 2.0 Strategy for Political Conventions
By James Shillinglaw
August 20, 2012 10:34 PM
The U.S. Travel Association unveiled its Vote Travel 2.0 plans for the Republican and Democratic conventions to highlight the importance of travel and tourism to both political parties. U.S. Travel is pushing a message that the travel industry includes millions of jobs, and without it, such conventions would not be possible. The group’s multi-pronged strategy includes back-of-the-house tours for policymakers, receptions, branded hotel key cards, street marketing teams, social media engagement and more.
Blain Rethmeier, senior vice president-public affairs for U.S. Travel said the
Vote Travel campaign is focused on communicating the significant impact of travel to policymakers and candidates running for office at both the Republican convention in Tampa and the Democratic convention in Charlotte. U.S. Travel launched the Vote Travel campaign earlier this year by taking a “campaign” bus on a nationwide 20,000-mile, 60-city tour to tout the industry’s economic impact. With the political conventions starting next week, U.S. Travel is now continuing that campaign with the launch of Vote Travel 2.0, according to Rethmeier.
Rethmeier said U.S. Travel is using a non-traditional approach to maximize the Vote Travel message at both political conventions, including reaching delegates through touch points as they enter and travel within Tampa and Charlotte. “We are pushing a message that will stay with attendees — that the travel industry generates $1.9 trillion in economic output and includes 14 million of U.S. jobs—and without it, the conventions wouldn’t be possible,” he said.
Vote Travel outreach at each convention will include: Vote Travel-branded key cards at Marriott hotels in both Tampa and Charlotte and Vote Travel Digi-Clean microfiber screen cleaners for everyone renting a car from Hertz and Enterprise. The screen cleaners be attached to Vote Travel branded cards containing statistics on the economic impact of the travel industry and a call-to-action for delegates to visit the VoteTravel.org website. In addition, delegates and policymakers at the conventions will be invited to back-of-the-house tours, in partnership with Marriott, to show the nuts and bolts of how a convention works.
In addition, U.S. Travel will have street marketing teams that will push the Vote Travel message by handing out t-shirts, squishy buses and buttons in both cities; taxicabs will be furnished with Vote Travel air fresheners; and convention bus drivers will wear Vote Travel buttons. Through a partnership with taxi company Uber, delegates who enter the “Vote Travel” code will receive a $20 discount on their first Uber ride in a nationwide promotion/
There will also be a Twitter trivia contest for all convention delegates to promote the economic impact of the travel industry. Full contest details will be posted Monday, Aug. 27 on VoteTravel.org. Delegates can enter by following @USTravel on twitter and correctly responding to a daily trivia question, and including the hashtags #VoteTravel and #RNC2012 and #DNC2012 during the respective conventions. Winner will receive grand prize giveaway of a trip to Las Vegas, including a two-night stay at the MGM Grand, tickets to Cirque du Soleil show, $300 food credit and a $1,000 American Express gift card.
According to Candice Knezevic, U.S. Travel’s director-grassroots and Industry relations, U.S. Travel also will engage in a grassroots effort to get travel employees to think more politically about their jobs and to educate them about the political process. It will also introduce out a voter resource website in the coming weeks as well as a “Get Out The Vote” toolkit for travel industry organizations. “Our goal is to ensure that policymakers continue to understand the value of the travel industry and to view travel as the key to economic recovery for this nation,” Rethmeier said.
Finally, once the presidential candidates are officially nominated, U.S. Travel will send them both a questionnaire to ask about their stance on issues affecting the travel industry. Questions will ask about positions on international visitation, visa waivers for international visitors, airport security and TSA,, and transportation infrastructure, among other issues.