Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism asked GMS for ideas on how to bundle a few different thoughts into a cohesive concept. They were interested in assisting businesses along the main travel corridors to the beaches (I-65, I-10, etc.) as well as in promoting the state tourism department’s 100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama. During a brainstorming with our primary client contact, Eat Your Way to the Beach was born. Choosing iconic restaurants and dishes along all the travel corridors, GMS created food itineraries for the GulfShores.com website that included many of the 100 dishes as well as others not in the state’s brochure.
Upon successful completion of the “to the beach” project, April started daydreaming and Eat Your Way Around the Beach presented itself. The campaign has grown over five years to now include robust website content that includes fan favorites, itineraries, and trails. Elements of the campaign include the website content as well as dozens of videos, hundreds of photographs, decals for fan favorite restaurants, a Chef Series video campaign, comprehensive social advertising, recipe contests, and more. Once a sleepy beach area known only for fried seafood platters, Gulf Shores & Orange Beach is now a true foodie destination. The Eat Your Way program is a key element of that transformation and is wildly popular with both visitors and industry partners.
Our approach to this project was, in a word, enthusiastic! We saw a tremendous opportunity here to create evergreen content for the client, engage industry partners in a whole new way, and make the client’s social fans go crazy with content that thrilled their taste buds. Knowing that visitors to the destination viewed food as one of the top elements of their vacation, we knew that any campaign centered around succulent gulf seafood, mouthwatering desserts, stacked-high burgers and the like, would be a hit. The topic made this project extra fun, but we were still methodical in our planning and our vision.
As the program developed and grew, it became an integral part of our twice-annual planning sessions with this client and the GMS team. Eat Your Way has evolved from a small, seasonal effort to a comprehensive integrated, year-round marketing campaign.
Once again, there were external partners involved in the development of this project. That meant intensive outreach to those partners to ensure their understanding of the program so they could benefit from its marketing activities. GMS treats the Eat Your Way project as a standalone, complex project that runs from year to year, beginning from scratch each January. We use SmartSheet to build tasks and timelines, use Google documents to brainstorm, more SmartSheet use to track and traffic, scheduling software to set up film shoots, photo sessions and the like.
This client uses the InMotion project management software platform, so GMS has a seat on their subscription that allows us to efficiently manage proofs, changes, etc.
Eat Your Way content is measured via Google Data Studio on the GulfShores.com website, as well as via paid social measurement software Simply Measured, native analytics, and Marin Social for advertising measurement. We analyze site behavior, engagement and advertising performance to ensure the client’s goals are being met. For this project, GSOBT wants to achieve video views, vacation guide orders and downloads, and traffic increases. In addition, intangibles include industry partner engagement and involvement. The program is an unqualified success across all goals.