Nestled in the Beautiful Black Hills just a few miles from Mount Rushmore National Memorial, the community of Keystone is a major visitor destination in western South Dakota. Keystone has over 1,000 hotel rooms, dining, shopping, and a high concentration of family-friendly attractions within a two-square mile area.
Keystone has no shortage of visitors in the summer season. Thousands of people drive through town on their way to see Mount Rushmore. But many travelers weren’t stopping in Keystone for very long - if at all. Even overnight guests were quick to pull into town, and quick to leave the next day. Nearby communities were doing a better job of of getting visitors to stop, stay overnight, and spend their tourist dollars. Enter tdg.
The Keystone Chamber of Commerce partnered with tdg in late 2013 on a three-year strategic plan. The goal: get more travelers to stop in Keystone longer and increase spending, which we could track with sales tax revenues. In year one, we embarked on a community-wide brand development project. In year two, we created new collateral, advertising elements, and a compelling website with a direct booking system for local hotels that we began to push with targeted online campaigns. In year three, we amped up our digital marketing initiatives, reaching tourists planning a trip to the Black Hills region while they were still in the planning phase.
Our new initiatives started generating results almost immediately. Website pageviews and information requests were the first metrics to rise: after one year of our campaign, brochure requests were up more than 1,700%. Hotel owners began to report more room nights booked, and retail sales saw a boost. When we began the campaign, Keystone was underperforming the rest of South Dakota and seeing year-over-year sales tax growth in the low single digits. In the final year of our campaign, the community posted a 10.21% growth in sales tax receipts, overperforming the rest of the state by 43%.