Arkansas Issues Wide-Ranging Marketing Tourism RFP

Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) has for comprehensive advertising and marketing services. ADPT is looking to identify a marketing communications firm with a proven record of success in the travel and tourism field to serve as champion for both the Arkansas brand and that of Arkansas State Parks, bringing new visitors to the State and contributing to the growth of the State’s economy.

INTRODUCTION

They seek a firm which can work in close collaboration with ADPT (which includes the State Parks Division and the Tourism Division) to develop, implement, and continually optimize a comprehensive and integrated marketing program that aggressively promotes the State of Arkansas as a year-round travel destination. The lead vendor should provide consumers with an integrated solution across traditional, digital, social media, and public relations – whether the media be paid, earned, or owned.

With enabling legislation dating back to the 1920s and ‘30s, the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism (ADPT) is a cabinet-level agency charged with enhancing the State’s quality of life by promoting, protecting, interpreting, and managing Arkansas’s natural and cultural resources. Although its central office is in Little Rock, most of the ADPT personnel are based in 52 state parks or 14 welcome centers located across Arkansas. Roughly 800 full-time employees and another 850 part-timers are on the payroll.

In calendar year 2015, for example, Arkansas’s tourism industry hosted 28.1 million guests who spent $7.3 billion in the State, to include $374 million in State taxes. Visitation to “The Natural State” has nearly doubled since the “tourism tax” went into effect and overall spending by travelers has more than tripled. Likewise, the State Parks Division has recorded substantial gains in recent years, particularly in terms of revenue growth. Its total sales of $28 million in fiscal year 2016 were 30% higher than a decade earlier. The state park system tallied nearly 9 million visitors in Fiscal Year 2015, in broad contrast to its only 3 million residents.

The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism is charged with both encouraging its residents to vacation within the State and inspiring potential out-of-state travelers to visit Arkansas through promotional campaigns designed to establish the State as a world-class tourism destination.
The chosen agency shall provide the six services listed below:

  1. Lead and Creative
  2. Public Relations
  3. Social Media
  4. Media Planning and Buying
  5. Website Development and Hosting
  6. Marketing

CREATIVE SERVICES

  • The vendor shall conceptualize big, singular ideas that engage the audience with Arkansas’s and Arkansas State Parks’ brand.
  • The vendor shall strategize, create, produce, procure, and prepare advertising and branded content for distribution on domestic and international online and offline media channels, including paid, owned, and earned and social media platforms.
  • The vendor shall create, produce, publish, and distribute printed promotional materials including, but not limited to The Arkansas Travel Guide, Water & Woods, the Arkansas Motorcycling Guide, the Arkansas Mountain Biking Guide, the Arkansas Road Biking Guide and the Arkansas State Park Guide.
  • The vendor shall research, produce and/or procure, and manage assets and content for tourism development and marketing purposes, including but not limited to artwork, illustrations, photography, video, music, maps, voiceover, copy, literature, brand identity, etc., negotiating rates and use for rights-managed assets.
  • The vendor shall design and translate content for international, trade, and agency staff as necessary.

PUBLIC RELATIONS

  • The vendor shall develop consumer-focused public relations programs that complement an overarching marketing plan.
  • The vendor shall strategize, develop, execute, and support comprehensive domestic and international public/media relations campaigns and program activities, using both traditional and emerging social media approaches – including news releases, e-mail blasts, targeted media events, story pitches, and development of hosted press trips.
  • The vendor shall engage Arkansas’s tourism industry public and private sector partners to assist in all phases of work with the media.
  • The vendor shall service inbound media requests/inquiries which may include but are not limited to content development, hosting, logistical arrangements, providing visuals and video.
  • The vendor shall track results of inbound servicing.
  • The vendor shall cultivate and maintain relationships with influential travel and lifestyle voices.
  • The vendor shall enhance and maintain online media room and blogs. The current blogs are Arkansas Tourism Blog “Travel Arkansas” and Arkansas State Parks Blog “State Parks of Arkansas Blog”.
  • The vendor shall track and report on editorial coverage in both traditional and social media outlets to quantitatively and qualitatively assess earned media value of PR efforts and provide ongoing reports of the findings.
  • The vendor shall develop and manage an integrated contact and communications management system for the purpose of facilitating and tracking communications with media contacts.
  • The vendor shall work with ADPT communication team to share Arkansas Tourism success stories via news releases and annual reports.
  • The vendor shall develop and deliver workshops and seminars on a variety of media, public relations, and travel trade topics as needed and/or requested by ADPT.
  • The vendor shall assist with crisis management strategy, plan, protocol, execution, monitoring and support, including social media channels as directed by ADPT.

SOCIAL MEDIA

  • The vendor shall develop an integrated social media strategy within an overarching marketing platform.
  • The vendor shall discover and present creative means to drive engagement and connect with consumers.
  • The vendor shall deliver first-to-market opportunities within the tourism category.
  • The vendor shall define and deliver against clear goals, success metrics, and return on investment. ADPT shall have the final determination of metrics.
  • The vendor shall effectively buy media and extend the State’s media investment through aggressive negotiations and added value programs, including an efficient and effective system of programmatic buying.
  • The vendor shall strategize, develop, and execute social media strategies including competitive and situational analyses, goals, objectives, priorities, and audiences.
  • The vendor shall develop a brand positioning which complements the overall consumer-marketing program.
  • The vendor shall provide compelling, creative execution across all current and future social media channels on an on-going basis.
  • The vendor shall identify and counsel ADPT as to how Arkansas can maximize emerging technology and trends in the social environment.
  • The vendor shall execute, measure, track, and evaluate all social analytics.

MEDIA PLANNING AND BUYING

  • The vendor shall annually develop and recommend media objectives, strategies, and tactics in support of overall marketing plan goals and objectives.
  • The vendor shall plan, negotiate, and purchase media placements and program integration on channels and publishers including but not limited to print, digital (including display, search engine marketing, mobile, video, social media), broadcast, out-of-home, event sponsorship, point-of-purchase, cooperative marketing, direct marketing, and emerging technology vehicles.
  • The vendor shall evaluate and recommend search engine optimization strategies and activities in coordination with the digital marketing vendor.
  • The vendor shall monitor and optimize placements to ensure maximum performance and full completion of all media schedules, negotiating make-goods and bonus units as appropriate.
  • The vendor shall provide performance reports and analyses of media placements throughout and at the completion of each campaign.
  • Details on hosting the Department’s two primary websites – www.Arkansas.com<http://www.Arkansas.com> and www.ArkansasStateParks.com<http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com> and all associated URLs – will be determined during the contract transition stage.
  • The methods and formats for the provision of the above work, as well as the final product, shall meet the approval of ADPT.

WEBSITE

  • The vendor shall develop the website from the ground up.
  • The vendor shall lead, actualize, and execute website design, re-design, coding, development, automated personalized marketing, content apps, and integration of marketing campaigns and digital projects.
  • The vendor shall provide insightful leadership and best practices related to digital communications and targeted marketing.
  • The vendor shall employ best practices in website optimization and user experience for consumers and staff.
  • The vendor shall define and deliver against clear goals, success metrics, and return on investment. ADPT shall have the final determination of metrics.
  • The vendor shall have a commitment to making the ADPT’s websites among the best in the tourism category.
  • The vendor shall have knowledge and utilization experience of best practices and analytical benchmarks.
  • The vendor shall design the two websites, www.Arkansas.com<http://www.Arkansas.com> and www.ArkansasStateParks.com<http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com>, so that they interface with each other for various items as determined by ADPT, such as event calendars and image libraries.

WEBSITE SERVICES

  • Marketing Strategy and Brand Planning
    • a. The vendor shall develop digital marketing plans, including competitive and situational analyses, goals, objectives, priorities, and audiences.
    • b. The vendor shall develop a brand positioning that complements the overall consumer-marketing program.
  • Creative Services
    • The vendor shall create, produce, and prepare digital branded content for distribution on domestic and international online media channels, including paid, owned, earned, and social media platforms.
    • The vendor shall research, produce and/or procure, and manage assets and content for tourism development and marketing purposes, including but not limited to artwork, illustration, photography, video, music, maps, voiceover, copy, literature, brand identity pieces, etc.
    • The vendor shall negotiate rates and use for rights-managed assets.
    • The vendor shall design and translate content for international, trade, and internal audiences as necessary.
    • The vendor shall design promotional content using static and dynamic data feeds and formats.

Website Development, Design, and Strategy

  • The vendor shall lead, actualize, and execute website design, re-design, coding, development, automated personalized marketing, content apps, and integration of marketing campaigns and digital projects.
  • The vendor shall research marketplace, target audiences/users and develop strategies to reach them and fulfill their needs and expectations of a travel destination website.
  • The vendor shall emphasize the automated, personalized marketing, user experience, and interaction design (commonly known as “the consumer journey”)
  • The vendor shall create a user interface design.
  • The vendor shall provide software engineering, programming, and development consistent with current technologies to include CMS, Google Analytics, and Google TagManager.
  • The vendor shall identify and counsel as to how the State can maximize emerging technology and trends in web marketing, design, and development.
  • The vendor shall identify and counsel as to how the State can maximize emerging technology and trends in mobile platforms (such as tablets, smartphone, wearables) in terms of native and web apps to support and enhance the State’s marketing efforts.
  • The vendor shall identify and counsel the State on current marketing and PR efforts on digital and mobile platforms.
  • The vendor shall advise on how to present and use www.Arkansas.com<http://www.Arkansas.com> , and www.ArkansasStateParks.com<http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com> , and all other associated URLs on mobile devices (i.e., responsive design, content parity, etc.).
  • The vendor shall develop content for www.Arkansas.com<http://www.Arkansas.com> , and www.ArkansasStateParks.com<http://www.ArkansasStateParks.com> , and all other associated URLs that is compatible with mobile devices (i.e., responsive design, content parity, etc.).

Website Administration

  • The vendor shall provide ADPT with an administrator user role that has the capability to update and maintain any and all functions of the website. Currently, ADPT utilizes the administrator role for updates to website content such as campsite closures and calendar event updates.
  • Prior to the websites’ “go live” date, ADPT shall be given access to the site for testing and approval of design. With the anticipated contract start date of July 1, 2017, ADPT’s goal is to “go live” by the end of 2017.
  • After ADPT testing, and prior to the “go live” date determined by ADPT, the vendor shall make any changes to the websites design and function that ADPT warrants necessary.

MARKETING STRATEGY AND BRAND PLANNING

  • The vendor shall develop brand positioning, strategy, and marketing plans, including competitive and situational analyses, goals, objectives, priorities, audiences, and integrated multi-media strategies.
  • The vendor shall strategize, plan, and execute integrated and measurable marketing programs to build awareness, intent, and travel to Arkansas.
  • The vendor shall develop partnership programs and brand-to-brand relationships to extend marketing reach, engage industry partners, and tap into shared consumer affinities.
  • The vendor shall provide separate account management for Tourism and State Parks. This separate account management shall include support for each of the following:
    • Staff coordination
    • Budget management
    • Project management
    • Status reports
    • Quality control
    • Client communications

RESEARCH AND EVALUATION OF STATE TOURISM BUSINESS

  • The vendor shall monitor, track, and provide to ADPT points-of-view on social, economic, political, environmental, media, consumer, and travel industry data and trends that could impact the State’s tourism business.
  • The vendor shall identify opportunities to grow market share and/or revenue.
  • The vendor shall conduct research to shape, target, and measure marketing efforts.
  • The vendor shall track and evaluate performance or marketing activities.
  • The vendor shall produce reports, summaries, dashboards, and other tools on industry and State performance indicators.
  • The vendor shall monitor and provide intelligence on marketing activities of competitors.

Proposal due by March 7th, 2017 to:
STATE OF ARKANSAS
OFFICE OF STATE PROCUREMENT
1509 West 7th Street, Room 300
Little Rock, Arkansas 72201-4222

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