Any beachgoer knows; to have all the fun in the sun, you need beach stuff: beach chairs, umbrellas, coolers, paddleboards, surfboards, body boards and the wetsuits and life jackets that go with them. Not to mention easy ways to cruise town on bicycles or golf carts. You’re not packing those in your carry-on, or even in your vehicle. So you rent!
If you’re headed to the Outer Banks, you’ll find what you need from Ocean Atlantic Rentals (OAR), the Outer Banks Rental Center that has been simplifying vacations for families since 1979. This tourism-driven business has been a long-time advertiser with the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, using all of the marketing avenues available through their local Destination Marketing Organization.
When the opportunity arose to get additional exposure using paid advertisements on OuterBanks.org via the Outer Banks Visitor Bureau’s partnership with Destination Travel Network (DTN), co-owner Chris Marik says it was a no-brainer. And he was right.
“I’ve always seen good results with OuterBanks.org, and this site is one of the top three lead generators for site visitors to my website.” ~ Chris
In a recent DTN Top 100 Advertiser by Clicks* poll, OAR rounded out the Top 100 with more than 1.2 million impressions and 6,022 clicks for an average of 0.48% click-through rate (CTR) over a 13 month period. Considering the DTN Ad Network services more than 1,600 advertisers, and the Google display network CTR average is .05 - .1%, this performance is exemplary.
“We have always advertised through the visitors bureau, starting with print and early direct mail pieces,” explains Chris. “The campaigns generated a lot of qualified leads. As digital has grown, it’s easier to get leads so we increased our participation in the digital program.”
What’s more, Chris recently attended the OBX Tourism Summit hosted by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau. During the seminar, he heard a statistic that stuck with him: about 70% of people are using online choices to pre-plan their vacation.
“I have to start building brand awareness for my business before a visitor ever drives onto the beach,” he shared. “If you’re not participating on a digital level, and in a couple different ways, you’re relying on someone to just drive by. I don’t think that works anymore.”
OAR turned to DTN Account Executive Meredith Sasser for guidance on choosing the right placements, meeting in person or on phone consultations. He chose a variety of spots to give him the most exposure across the website and on mobile devices. He uses Google Analytics to track leads and sources to his website; a process he says is gratifying to see referral results.
“Meredith gives me her gut opinions on how she thinks people will flow through the website. I put myself in the website visitors’ shoes and surf the website myself. I compare her ideas with my experience and we meet somewhere in the middle,” he said. “I’ve always seen good results with OuterBanks.org, and this site is one of the top three lead generators for site visitors to my website.”
OAR’s OuterBanks.org digital advertising campaign is part of their larger, well-thought out digital marketing strategy which also includes advertising with other Outer Banks-centric digital avenues. Chris calls it their “advertising cocktail”, designed to reach first-time visitors and to stay in touch with people who already love the area and will return. One of his main cocktail ingredients is OuterBanks.org for its reliability and its reach.
“We have always advertised through the visitors bureau, starting with print and early direct mail pieces. The campaigns generated a lot of qualified leads. As digital has grown, it’s easier to get leads so we increased our participation in the digital program. ~ Chris
“I think different generations gather their vacation information in different ways. The visitor bureau website is really important to reach the mature shopper that’s looking for information from a trusted avenue,” he said. “The tourism bureau is using cutting-edge technology to bring people to my destination. I want to use that to bring people to my business. They use the latest and greatest in tech and I want to be a partner with that.”
It helps to also have a fun, friendly relationship with the people you partner with. Chris calls Meredith a friend who is always reachable, providing statistics and information on how his campaign delivers. At the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, more friends offer him support: he says Lorie Love and Amy Wood, both employees of the bureau whom live in the Outer Banks, genuinely care about the community.
For this second generation owner, the care and concern OAR receives from the CVB and DTN are helping to grow the business. In 2010, they launched Ocean Atlantic Event Rentals to cater to the destination wedding market.
“People who find us naturally think of OAR as the one-stop-shop for all rentals. We listened to our customers and started servicing the white glove industry. We do hundreds of weddings a year,” he said.
When Chris and his partner Blake Buchert started providing golf cart rentals, they were looking for a way to offer convenience to the visitor while alleviating traffic congestion. That decision has led to their brand-new venture—they’re the only LSV golf cart dealership offering new sales and service located on the OBX.
“Blake and I worked for the original owners Greg and Eden Honeycutt when we were in college and I guess you can say we never left. In 2004, we became part owners because we love the people and the lifestyle so much,” he added.
Ocean Atlantic Rentals has four store locations and several warehouses to handle delivery services, including the very popular set up service—they’ll come to you and set up and take down beach chairs and umbrellas daily.
If you’d like to join the DTN Ad Network, learn how to become an advertiser. If you’re a DMO and want to learn more about becoming a DTN publisher and offering your local businesses enhanced exposure opportunities on your website, schedule a demo today.
*The Top 100 Advertisers by Clicks report was generated by the DTN Ad Ops team and included performance data from January 2017 – February 2018.