State of Arizona Issues RFP Seeking Social Media Services in China
The State of Arizona invites sealed proposals from qualified firms for travel industry marketing, media relations and social media representation in mainland China for use by the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT). The objective of this solicitation is to cost-effectively increase Chinese visitation and spending in Arizona by increasing travel trade, media and consumer awareness about the state’s unique offerings through:
- Assisting tour operators and travel agents to develop and promote group and individual tour programs to Arizona.
- Assisting media in publishing stories about Arizona as a world-class destination.
- Conducting consumer-focused social media marketing campaigns.
Past expenditures in this market during the state fiscal year 2018 were $275,000 (travel industry marketing and media only) however this is no guaranty of the number of services to be delivered under this contract.
AOT was established as an agency of the State of Arizona in 1975. AOT functions as a destination marketing organization to promote all of Arizona as a single travel destination. The mission of AOT is to strengthen and expand Arizona’s economy through travel and tourism promotion.
The objective of this solicitation is to cost-effectively increase Chinese visitation and spending in Arizona by increasing travel trade, media and consumer awareness about the state’s unique offerings through:
- Assisting tour operators and travel agents to develop and promote group and individual tour programs to Arizona
- Assisting media in publishing stories about Arizona as a world-class destination and
- Conducting consumer-focused social media marketing campaigns.
China is the fastest growing international market to the United States and Chinese visitors spend more per person per trip than any other inbound market. Based on information provided by VISA Vue, China is also one of the fastest growing markets to Arizona and was the fourth most important international market in 2017.
AOT has had travel industry marketing and media relations representation in China since 2012.
Scope of Work:
- Office: The Contractor shall maintain an office in mainland China with a dedicated Account Manager for each service and staff who will be responsible for the AOT account.
- Account Manager: The Contractor shall assign a dedicated account manager for each service awarded under this contract, (travel industry marketing, media relations, and social media). AOT shall provide an initial training including a multi-day familiarization trip to Arizona. It is the expectation that the account manager will be assigned to the AOT account for a minimum of 24 months. If the account manager changes for any reason prior to the end of that time period, the contractor shall organize and be financially responsible for ensuring the new account manager receives training equal to or better than that provided by AOT.
- In-Market Representation: The Contractor shall promote travel to all parts of the state including but not limited to; major cities, rural areas, national and state parks, and areas of natural beauty, cultural and historical importance.
- Strategy Meeting: The contractor including the company principal and account manager (s) shall meet with key AOT staff to develop a strategic plan for Arizona in the China market. This 2-day meeting shall take place in China at the contractor’s office as soon as possible following the contract award, but no more than 60 calendar days.
- Market Overview: On a regular basis (typically annually or every other year), the Contractor shall travel to Arizona to present a market overview to constituents from around the State. This presentation may take place at the Arizona Governor’s Conference on Tourism or a similar event. Dates for the presentation will be provided by AOT no later than January for the following fiscal year. In addition to the presentation, the Contractor shall attend a familiarization tour lasting no more than five nights. All travel expenses will be reimbursed at State of Arizona domestic per diem rates located at http://www.gao.az.gov/travel. The dates for FY20 Governor’s Conference on Tourism are July 22-24, 2019.
- Tourism Database: The Contractor shall have a comprehensive travel industry and/or media database already compiled at the time of contract award.
The travel industry marketing database shall include at a minimum:
- Contact Name,
- Company Affiliation,
- Email Address,
- Physical Address,
- Phone Number
- Background Information to include product inventory being sold in Arizona, marketing co-operative programs the vendor has conducted, and any history of working with Arizona and other surrounding states.
The media relations database shall include at a minimum:
- Contact Name,
- Company Affiliation,
- Email Address,
- Physical Address,
- Phone Number
- Background Information to include circulation and audience, online presence, social media channels, audience size of each channel and history of stories written about Arizona destinations.
AOT Database Management: The Contractor shall compile and manage a database that includes contact names, company names, physical addresses and e-mail addresses of all requests for information and/or materials sent and leads generated and broken down into the three categories of trade, media and consumers. This database and its electronic records shall remain the full property of the State of Arizona and shall not be distributed without permission. The database and its electronic records shall be returned to AOT at the conclusion of each contract year (and before any applicable contract renewal) in a format approved by AOT.
Specific Travel Industry Marketing Requirements
- Marketing Plan: The Contractor(s) shall prepare and submit an annual marketing plan on or before December 1st of each year for the following fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th). The marketing plan shall include at a minimum: annual objectives, tactics to meet the objectives and budget, including AZ product being sold by tour operators and where there is opportunity to grow the product.
- Fulfillment: The Contractor shall provide information on Arizona in response to requests from the travel industry and consumers. AOT will provide in language collateral for inquiries and requests contingent on availability. AOT will reimburse the shipping costs for the collateral listed below on a monthly basis with the appropriate back-up documentation.
- Arizona Official Visitors Guide (English)
- Arizona Official State Map
- Chinese Travel Brochure
- Chinese Map
- Arizona Itineraries in Chinese (Simplified)
- Access to images in the Arizona Office of Tourism online photo library
- Film footage with scenes from around the state in HDProRes format
- Destination video
- Fulfillment inquiries including contact information, type of inquiry (consumer, tour operator, media representative, etc) and items requested shall be included as a component of the monthly report.
- Sales Leads: The Contractor must conduct proactive trade outreach to tour operators, travel agents, wholesalers and airlines in the China market. From this outreach, a minimum of 24 qualified leads shall be generated each year for new business to Arizona. A qualified lead is defined as a concrete request for a specific program including rate requests for specific dates (or a range of dates) that generate hotel revenue, or other revenue that benefits Arizona, its communities and/or individual businesses.
- Qualified leads generated shall be included in each monthly report. The template for submitting qualified leads is included as Exhibit A.
- Destination Trainings: The Contractor shall present a minimum of ten destination trainings on the State of Arizona tourism product to qualified groups of travel agents, tour operators and airline reservations and sales staff throughout China on an annual basis. Qualified groups are those groups which are already selling product to Arizona and need assistance training their reservations staff or other sales staff. Any materials presented shall be approved by AOT prior to use. The Contractor shall provide a report to AOT which will include the details on the audience, material covered and any other information deemed relevant as part of the monthly report.
- Escorted Familiarization (FAM) Tours: The Account Manager shall organize and escort a minimum of one tour operator familiarization trip to Arizona, with a minimum of six and a maximum of eight qualified Chinese trade representatives plus the account manager and driver. A qualified trade representative is defined as a person working for a qualified company who develops packages and/or sells, or has the intent to sell Arizona travel product.
- The Account Manager shall make all arrangements within China including but not limited to identifying and confirming qualified attendees, arranging international flights from China to Arizona and all pre-trip preparations. The AOT and other hosting communities will coordinate all arrangements in Arizona including developing the itinerary and coordinating the ground transportation. Final participants must be approved by AOT.
- The Account Manager shall actively work with airlines to generate free or discounted air tickets for FAM tours when possible.
- The Account Manager shall follow up with all participants and report back overall opinions of the Arizona trip through an online survey tool provided by AOT.A
- All costs associated with the tours must be pre-approved by AOT and will be reimbursed to the contractor.
- Trade Shows: The Account Manager shall assist with and attend a minimum of one key tradeshow on behalf of the Arizona Office of Tourism.
- The Account Manager shall assist AOT with on-site logistical support including booth set-up and collateral shipping, delivery, display and distribution. AOT will directly handle all arrangements and payments associated with show registration and booth construction.
- The Account Manager shall set up an aggressive schedule of appointments with trade representatives who have the potential to cover Arizona. The appointment schedule must be forwarded to AOT for approval, no less than 10 business days prior to the commencement of the tradeshow and should include a contact name and email address; company, summary and website address (if appropriate); specific areas of interest and summary of previous conversations.
- The Account Manager shall execute follow-up with each appointment and provide AOT with a detailed report to include items such as an overview of the event, contacts and recommendations, follow up and fulfillment. This report shall be provided within 5 business days following the event.
- Sales Missions: The Account Manager shall coordinate, conduct and accompany a (minimum of two) sales missions. One will be for AOT staff only and one will be a comprehensive multi-day mission for a delegation of Arizona partners. A mission is defined as a series of appointments, an event, and/or series of events that provides opportunities for the delegation of Arizona partners to meet with and educate trade representatives.
- The Account Manager and AOT shall work together to develop a mission strategy, including format, schedule and attendee targets, based on market goals and delegation partners in attendance. The Account Manager shall conduct sufficient outreach to ensure the target quantity of qualified travel trade professionals are in attendance at appointments and/or events.
- The Account Manager shall coordinate all aspects of the mission including, but not limited to, scheduling appointments, selecting a venue(s), coordinating all food and beverage details, distributing invitations, handling RSVPs, organizing and stuffing gift/collateral bags and all other event related tasks. All pre-approved costs associated with the mission will be reimbursed by AOT.
- The Account Manager shall coordinate travel arrangements for the Arizona delegation including hotel and transportation reservations (not including overseas flights). Payment for these arrangements will be handled by each delegate directly. All travel expenses must fall within the State of Arizona international per diems, which can be found at https://gao.az.gov/travel/welcome-gao-travel .
- The mission schedule including appointments must be forwarded to AOT for approval, no less than 10 business days prior to the commencement of the sales mission and should include a contact name and email address; company, summary and website address (if appropriate); specific areas of interest and summary of previous conversations.
- The Account Manager shall provide AOT with a detailed report, to include items such as an overview of events, contacts and recommendations, follow up and fulfillment. This report shall be provided within 5 business days following the event.
- Electronic Newsletter: The Contractor shall create, using original content provided by AOT, an electronic newsletter (e-newsletter) and distribute it to all travel industry contacts in the AOT database on a regular basis, a minimum of six (6) each contract year.
- The e-newsletter shall, at a minimum, cover 4-6 topics per newsletter and include photos, quotes and opportunities to click through to other Arizona destinations and suppliers.
The Contractor shall provide a review of the distribution of the e-newsletter as a component of the monthly report. The review shall include the following:
- Total number sent
- Number of opens
- Number of bounce-backs
- Number of opt-outs
- Number of click-throughs to each link
- Strategic Brand Partnerships: Contractor shall identify integrated travel industry and public relations promotional opportunities to support the development and placement of the Arizona brand.
- The AOT has partnered with Crabtree & Evelyn in the UK to promote their new line of spa products along with the fantastic spa products available in Arizona. A report of the results of any program shall be produced at the end of each project within fifteen business days after completion. Ongoing results will be reported in monthly reports. A minimum of two proposals shall be presented to the AOT annually.
- Chinese Language Website Requirements
- Chinese Language Website Hosting
The Contractor shall identify and subcontract with a company to provide web hosting services. Services provided shall include but are not limited to:
- Disaster recovery
- Hardware acquisition, upgrades, replacement maintenance and support
- Configuration of storage devices
- 24x7x365 operations monitoring, operations support and technical support
- Security to control electronic and physical access to data
- Capacity planning
- Chinese Language Website Maintenance: The contractor shall provide ongoing website maintenance to the current AOT China consumer website, https://www.visitarizona-cn.com
This shall include but is not limited to:
- Transitioning, receiving and updating current website files as necessary
- Regularly scheduled maintenance
- Technical support for any issues, problems or emergencies related to the website
- Update, refresh and/or add new content
- Ensure that the look and feel of the China website is similar to AOT’s consumer website in the US, Https://www.visitarizona.com
- Implement the latest technology to keep the website on equal terms with competitive destinations
- Website must be optimized for mobile devices
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