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Visit Lake Tahoe

Sustainable Lake Tahoe

When the new Visit Lake Tahoe brand was unveiled, it was time to address sustainability around a popular winter and summer destination in order to prevent overcrowding and damage to this precious natural resource.

Sustainable Lake Tahoe

In Search Of: A Scalable Brand Campaign

As part of a larger push to take the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority through a brand health evaluation and brand strategy process, we worked to promote responsible travel behavior to the region within areas that have a higher concentration of sustainable and responsible travelers.

Historically, Visit Lake Tahoe, the destination brand of the Lake Tahoe Visitors’ Authority, had avoided shoulder season advertising. Instead, it focused on primary seasons: winter and summer. As a wonder of the world, though, the area is constantly overwhelmed with tourists during those seasons, and we saw a need to take a more sustainable approach and expand advertising in the shoulder season in order to disperse travelers and tout the benefits of “off season” visits to the iconic destination.

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Key Opportunities

Encourage responsible tourism in a popular tourist destination

Disperse travelers throughout the year rather than at peak times

Speak to audiences not traditionally receptive to sustainability messaging

Showing in-market economic impact to tell the full story of a new audience

Outcomes

  • 24.7 %
    Sponsored Email Open Rate
  • 39 %
    Increase in Organic Sessions
  • 602 %
    Increase in Organic Partner Referrals
lake tahoe

Spreading Visitors Out Across Time

As part of a growing collective consciousness focused on sustainability, regenerative travel — or travel as a force for good — is on the rise. According to Expedia’s Sustainable Travel Study, 90% of consumers are looking for sustainable options when traveling. As many as 49% will choose a less crowded destination to reduce the effects of overtourism. 

We needed a campaign that would give us the flexibility to change seasonally as well as pivot due to COVID-19 and Mother Nature. We also needed a more grown-up campaign that balanced the fun and awesome “total Tahoe” experience while encouraging respect for the lake and responsible tourism. We ended up doing this by playing off the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe and the fact that it’s obviously (“clearly”) one of the most spectacular places in the world to have an awesome getaway.

ad campaigns sustainable audience

Seeing this as an opportunity to make Lake Tahoe a sustainable destination for generations to come, we paired a massive rebranding effort with messaging about traveling responsibly audiences that are receptive to such ideas as well as those who traditionally are not.

Visit Lake Tahoe Rebrand

Defining the Sustainable Traveler

The messaging was clear: if you value responsible travel, you’ll consider traveling to Lake Tahoe during “shoulder seasons,” or off-peak times of year to help spread out the traffic and congestion in the area. 

We targeted five primary audiences: Outdoors, Entertainment, Affluent Adventurers, Families and Sustainable Travelers. This latter group includes potential travelers who live more sustainable/green lives and consider environmental impact every time they set foot outside their homes.

Our ads were crafted to showcase Visit Lake Tahoe’s commitment to responsible travel through copy, imagery and landing page language. 

ad campaigns ltva

Telling the Full Story of a New Audience

Visit Lake Tahoe is a unique DMO in that it does not focus solely on room nights. Situated in one of America’s scenic wonders, the organization is dedicated to destination stewardship, encouraging visitors to tread lightly and be respectful of the area’s sensitive environment. Room nights are still crucial, but they share the spotlight with the region’s sustainability efforts. As a nod to this, Noble Studios set out to create a sustainability audience that would receive campaigns with specific messaging. 

Through our long-standing partnership with Zartico, the makers of the world’s only Destination Operating System, we were able to gain visibility into the movement of visitors to Lake Tahoe and the economic opportunities they present. Zartico’s insights allowed us to see in-market visitation from the sustainability audience from August 2022 to March 2023, showing a 9% increase in share of overnight visitors YoY; an 8% higher overnight visitor percentage than overall visitors; and a 2% growth in average visitor spending YoY. We were also able to see that this audience engages with accommodation content 11% more than the overall visitor and visits over-touristed areas —  Emerald Bay (5% less) and Stateline (10% less) —  less frequently than our overall visitor. 

In the end, the Zartico partnership showed us that sustainability visitors stayed longer in-market and spent more money. This critical data now lets us tell the full story of the impact the marketing investment has in the destination.

sustainable campaign landing pages
Sustainable Traveler – Campaign Landing Pages – Fall & Winter

Outcomes

One of the campaign’s long-term aims is to make Visit Lake Tahoe one of the top 10% DMOs known for leading sustainable tourism around the world within a decade. While the end result is still down the road, we launched paid media to Seattle and Portland DMAs with tremendous success. High open rates, a big leap in year-over-year organic sessions and a staggering response in partner referrals all point to a campaign with serious staying power.

  • 24.7 %
    Sponsored Email Open Rate
  • 39 %
    Increase in Organic Sessions
  • 602 %
    Increase in Organic Partner Referrals
  • 9 %
    Increase in YoY Visitors
Awards
  • AAF Addy Awards Gold Consumer Campaign — Regional/National
Ready to get to work?

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