By Ruffin Prevost
MORAN, WYO. — There’s nothing like hosting guests from out of town to reacquaint you with what’s special about living in Yellowstone country.
Sure, seeing Old Faithful for the 985th time can be a perfunctory, or even frustrating experience. But almost any trip through Yellowstone or Grand Teton national parks yields a new sight, a forgotten wonder or some other reminder of how great it is to live at the doorstep of a national park. Experiencing that again through the fresh eyes of a first-time visitor only heightens the feeling.
And that’s a feeling you’re likely to get while watching a series of beautifully shot TV commercials from Wyoming Travel and Tourism.
‘Roam Free’ 15-second spot
The one 15-second and three 30-second spots are part of a $5.7 million campaign airing this summer and aimed at luring visitors to Wyoming’s wide open spaces using the catchphrase, “Roam Free.”
Wyoming Travel and Tourism head Diane Shober screened the commercials last month for tourism industry professionals and others gathered at Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton as part of the 10th Anniversary Conference of the Yellowstone Business Partnership, a group promoting sustainable enterprise in the region.
“Advertising does drive visitation, marketing does work,” Shober said.
After increasing advertising by 11 percent, incremental trips to the the state picked up by 23 percent, Shober said. That’s important, because tourism is Wyoming’s second-largest industry, raising $128 million in sales taxes per year, offsetting the average household’s tax burden by $560.
Tourism also provides jobs for more than 30,000 people, which Shober pointed out is “a decent-sized town in the state of Wyoming.”
State tourism officials are hoping that this summer’s campaign, aimed at markets in the midwest and adjacent to Wyoming, will continue a trend that has seen tax revenue generated by tourism grow by 28 percent over the last six years.
But if you live in Wyoming, you probably won’t see the ads on your local TV stations.
“We spend virtually no money inside Wyoming,” Shober said. “Our pool is way too shallow.”
The campaign is geared toward urban and suburban residents in other states who will find the soaring, aerial footage of rivers, mountains and landscapes hard to resist. But like a return visit to a favorite place, they’re likely to work pretty well on locals, too.
Narrated by actor Robert Duvall, the ads include images of wild horses, the Tetons, the Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park and Devil’s Tower.
State tourism research has shown that the top reasons why most people travel Wyoming include: to visit a national park, hiking, backpacking, scenic drives and camping.
“We know our national parks are the destination drivers of our tourism economy,” Shober said. Enticing those visitors to spend time in other parts of the state is an additional marketing challenge.
So if you live in Wyoming and get a sudden phone call or email from a distant relative or casual friend who’s looking to crash on your couch for a week this summer, blame it on the Tetons, blame Robert Duvall or blame wild horses. But most of all, blame Diane Shober.
Contact Ruffin Prevost at 307-213-9818 or [email protected].