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eTourism Summit 2024: Paving the Way for the Future of Travel & Tourism Marketing

By Hayley Corbett

April 19, 2024

2024 etourism conference collage

The eTourism Summit, a mecca for DMOs and travel marketers, promised to provide a platform for sharing groundbreaking ideas and innovative strategies in travel and tourism digital marketing.

And it delivered.

Attendees were treated to a smorgasbord of thought-provoking discussions that covered a broad spectrum of topics. The conference delved into the potential of artificial intelligence and explored the art of crafting compelling stories that resonate with travelers, ensuring no stone was left unturned. 

Amidst these engaging sessions, the prestigious eTourism Summit Excellence Awards (the eTSYs) took center stage, celebrating the cream of the crop in travel and tourism digital marketing excellence. 

Buckle up and join us on a journey through the highlights of this year’s eTourism Summit. We’ll unpack the key takeaways and reveal the secrets to conquering the digital landscape in the post-pandemic era. Get ready to be inspired, challenged and equipped with the tools you need to propel your tourism marketing to new heights. 

Triumph at the eTourism Summit

One of the big highlights at this year’s conference was the eTourism Summit Excellence Awards (the ETSYs.) After receiving hundreds of entries, the competition was narrowed down to a select group of winners, each exemplifying exceptional creativity and strategic prowess in their campaigns from 2023. 

And fortunately, our partners came out on top!

2024 etourism conference etsy award best website yosemite

“Best Website”- Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

The Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau (YMCTB) took home the “Best Website” award for the innovative redesign of This campaign transformed the website into a responsive, user-friendly platform tailored for diverse travelers such as families, adventure seekers and cultural enthusiasts. Key highlights of the redesign included a mobile-first approach, enhanced booking functionalities and interactive features like custom blocks and a mega menu. These innovations, alongside improved accessibility measures, significantly enhanced user engagement and satisfaction. The result was a notable increase in site traffic, reduced bounce rates and higher lodging conversion rates, setting a new standard in tourism marketing. 

This is also another win for the website redesign, having won “Best of Show” for website design and “Overall Best of Show” for user experience at the American Advertising Awards, plus WPEngine’s “Creative Project of the Year.”

2024 etourism conference etsy award best paid search

“Best Paid Search Campaign” – Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours

Papillon earned the prestigious win by turning industry challenges into a strategic advantage. The campaign, which integrated search engine optimization and search engine marketing, targeted expansive keywords and deployed geo-specific ads. The results significantly enhanced international market penetration and revenue streams, including a 229% increase in revenue and a 68% rise in Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). A key component of the campaigns was having a tailored approach to audiences in France, where organic growth preceded paid search growth. The approach exemplifies how targeted digital strategies can lead to exceptional growth in the tourism sector.

San Luis Obispo’s Groundbreaking Sustainable Tourism

During the conference, Molly Cano, Economic Development & Tourism Manager of the City of San Luis Obispo, delivered an impactful presentation titled “Sustainability in Action: San Luis Obispo’s Vision for Impactful Tourism.” 

Noble’s CEO and Co-Founder Jarrod Lopiccolo introduced Molly and primed the crowd by talking about responsible tourism. In a raise your hand survey, 90% of the crowd acknowledged they are in the process of adopting sustainability initiatives in their destinations. 

Molly’s talk focused on pioneering sustainable tourism initiatives in San Luis Obispo. She discussed the city’s ambitious target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2035 and showcased innovative programs like ‘Keys for Trees‘ and ‘MidWeekend‘ designed to balance tourism with environmental preservation. 

Highlights included their collaborative efforts to extend sustainable practices through Visit San Luis Obispo and partnerships with local communities, setting a benchmark for other destinations aiming for sustainable tourism. Their forward-looking discussion also touched on expanding these initiatives and engaging more deeply with sustainable travel audiences.

Jarrod rejoined Molly to have a discussion on sustainable tourism to close the session. An integral part of finding success in sustainable tourism is working with partners. For example, San Luis Obispo has partnered with organizations like Kind Traveler to implement their Every Stay Gives Back program. They also partnered with Noble Studios to bring their sustainable marketing to life

Unraveling the Future of Travel and Tourism Digital Marketing

The eTourism Summit served as a critical forum for exploring diverse elements of digital marketing and analytics, providing attendees with a broad perspective on the latest travel and tourism strategies and technological advancements. 

While we loved Molly’s talk, we also learned a lot at these sessions, too:

“Mastering Google Analytics 4: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”

A year after the phase-out of Universal Analytics, the GA4 Masterclass session showcased the shift to Google Analytics 4 and its implications for DMOs and marketing analytics.

Here are some critical takeaways from the session detailing the enhancements in GA4.

  1. Conversions and Event Configuration: In GA4, additional steps are required to set up event tracking and a longer process time while waiting for events. This detailed control allows marketing analytics teams to assess impactful campaign elements accurately, though smaller-scale conversions (less than 50 events) will not be displayed in reports.
  2. Audience Analysis and Integration: GA4 enhances custom audience segmentation and integrates seamlessly with Google Ads, enabling the use of real-time data in ad campaigns when Personalized Advertising is enabled. This capability allows for more targeted marketing strategies, increasing engagement and the opportunity for higher conversions and ROI.
  3. Importance of BigQuery in Data Management: BigQuery integration in GA4 provides advanced data analysis and export options, facilitating deep insights despite Google’s thresholding to protect personal information. The robust data management tools help marketers make informed decisions, optimize strategies and maintain compliance with data protection regulations.

GA4 revolutionizes how data is leveraged. With its advanced event tracking, insightful audience analysis and dynamic data management setting the stage for strategic marketing triumphs, there is so much to gain for DMOs. 

Partnering for Success: Atlanta’s Recipe for Agency Collaboration

Many DMOs work with several travel and tourism marketing agencies simultaneously. This session focused on how DMOs can play a lead role in getting their multiple partners to work better together. 

“Agency Lovefest” is an annual event hosted by Visit Atlanta that brings together multiple travel and tourism marketing agencies to foster alignment, inspire creativity and deepen project immersion through collaborative activities.

What they found was breaking bread and sipping wine built team trust.

Visit Atlanta also found that Agency Lovefest:

  • Enhanced communication clarity
  • Accelerated problem resolution
  • Boosted innovation across teams
  • Improved work satisfaction and efficiency
  • Strengthened the sense of community among team members

The success of “Agency Lovefest” not only increased collaboration and innovation among its marketing partners, but it created a more cohesive experience for visitors in the end. 

The AI Adoption Journey: Impacts and Learnings

What’s a conference in 2024 without a session on artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on marketing philosophy? The conference session highlighted the integration of AI in marketing, featuring the collaboration between Travel Santa Ana and Intentful with their “Happy Places” AI tool. This tool optimizes content production for various marketing platforms, adheres to brand standards, boosts SEO and maintains data privacy. 

And, importantly, it was emphasized that human oversight remains crucial for maintaining content quality and relevance despite AI’s efficiency. Planning tools don’t quite understand a destination’s unique cultural and contextual aspects.

Storytelling 101: Crafting Connection – Strategies to Forge Deeper Bonds with Your Travelers

This session offered travel brands a roadmap for engaging travelers more deeply through storytelling to bond with audiences and create intrigue for a destination. With a spotlight on authentic local culture, it featured the growth of Travel Arizona’s “Meet the Makers” from a one-off three-video content project into a nine-part video series. Learn crucial lessons from this session on evolving your storytelling methods:

  • Authenticity in a destination is shaped by its people and place.
  • The content must capture the true experience by featuring real visitors and unexpected elements. For example, the Travel Arizona video series featured Arizona Sake, an award-winning sake brewery along Route 66 in Northern Arizona.  
  • Questions for stakeholders to reveal their authentic stories:
    • Why did you start your business?
    • What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?
    • What achievement in your business are you most proud of?
    • What is your business’s mission?
    • How does the destination influence or inspire your work or craft?
etourism conference collage

Awards, Insights and Forward-Thinking

Overall, eTourism was a success. 

Noble took home two awards, got to see our friends onstage and made meaningful connections with clients, prospective clients, past clients and industry partners. 

We left feeling excellent about our approach to our craft as a few of the presentations hit on industry trends that Noble is already ahead of the curve on, such as fostering collaboration across multiple agencies on behalf of our clients, preparing for the sunsetting of UA data and transition to GA4, and preparing for a cookieless future

We also learned a thing or two about leveraging new AI tools in our day-to-day, creating compelling content and how to seek out those authentic stories for destinations that truly resonate with potential travelers.

Join us at the forefront of digital marketing innovation, or at least let Jarrod buy you a drink at the next big travel and tourism marketing conference. Contact Noble to learn more.

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