The Platte Valley, depicted in a Canadian RV magazine.
Centerfold in Byways magazine
Recent issues of Byways group tour magazine and Canada’s oldest camping magazine, Scope, feature the North Platte attractions the Golden Spike Tower, Union Pacific Railroad’s Bailey Yard, the Buffalo Bill State Historical Park and the story of the North Platte Canteen.
Other publications showcase North Platte attractions in the Tampa Bay Magazine, Canadian World Traveler and the Arkansas Sentinel Record.
“The editorial coverage would have cost us well over $20,000 if we had purchased the same amount of ad space,” said Lisa Burke, Executive Director of the North Platte-Lincoln County Visitors Bureau.
The coverage came about by a commitment of the Nebraska Tourism Commission to reach out to travel writers representing major print publications in an attempt to improve the perception of Nebraska.
North Platte partnered with the commission in June 2013. Attractions, hotels and restaurants contributed the cost of hosting 23 travel writers in town for the tour.
Byways magazine has an audience of 20,000 group tour providers. The North Platte-Lincoln County Visitors Bureau has an active group tour sales program. A single motor coach that stays overnight in North Platte and attends an attraction or two can infuse more than $6,000 into the local economy.
The Canadian Scope RV Camping magazine has a circulation of 28,000 avid RVers.
“As we’ve seen from our involvement in travel shows in Canada, Canadians love a road trip, and to them, Nebraska isn’t all that far away,” Burke said, in large part because U.S. Highway 83 is a direct route from central Canada into the North Platte area.
As a new travel season begins, even more articles from the 2013 media tour of the North Platte area and western Nebraska will be published, she said.
The Nebraska Tourism Commission and Geiger and Associates are also planning to issue a US Highway 83 road trip guide during the latter part of May.
According to the Nebraska Tourism Commission, nearly 123 journalists have visited Nebraska on five previous media tours, resulting in 212 articles or broadcast segments that have appeared in media outlets including Midwest Living, Smithsonian, Better Homes & Gardens, Parade, Saveur, Cowboys & Indians, American Cowboy, Group Tour, Group Travel Leader, Canadian Geographic, Byways, Smart Meetings, Short Escapes, Huffington Post, Texas Golfer, AAA Journeys, National Public Radio, Kansas City Star, Miami Herald, Nashville Tennessean, Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Oklahoman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Toronto Sun, Albuquerque Journal and the Coloradoan.
Some 115 million potential visitors have been exposed to this coverage. If the editorial coverage had been purchased as paid advertising, it would have cost $4.5 million, Burke said.
Also, national and Nebraska tourism sponsors have provided nearly $200,000 in goods and services including air transportation, lodging, meals and activities to support the tour program.
In all, the donated goods and services in the North Platte area cost an estimated $3,500. For every dollar contributed by local partners, North Platte received $5.13, Burke estimated.
The return on investment for the entire state of Nebraska is more.
Burke said the tourism commission paid the public relations firm that organized the tours, Geiger and Associates, $52,000 per tour.
The return on that investment is $16.21 per dollar statewide, the tourism commission estimates.