Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association 82nd annual meeting reports record-breaking year

RAPID CITY, S.D. — After an uncertain 2020, The Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association reported a very successful 2021.

Bhb SignsThe organization and leaders from local travel industries were all in attendance for the meeting and luncheon as speakers elaborated on the statistics regarding the increased numbers.

From last September to August of this year, tourism numbers were up over 20 percent.

Nearly 5 million people visited national parks, and hotel occupancy was over 55 percent.

“It ended up being an absolutely fantastic year,” President and CEO of Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association Michelle Thomson said. “We were fortunate to have DMO CARES marketing dollars that we could spend that helped up put an extra little boost into the tourism industry.”

In the last year, the organization maintained a large online presence. They worked to create ads and campaigns around highlighting the natural surroundings and outdoor aspects of the area.

Their website and social media pages, in return, were viewed millions of times, with interactive content engaging users and extending their reach.

Far enough that visitors all the way from Florida and California responded to the ads.

Trend-based content was also a new addition. Influxes of people moving into the Black Hills as they worked from home played into the creation of the company’s “Work Here, Play Here” ads.

However, as Black Hills and Badlands Tourism Association anticipates the return of large groups, they do not plan on completely returning to pre-COVID strategies.

“We’re looking forward to the return of large groups and international businesses. An so, our marketing will sort of go back to where we have been in the past, but we will definitely pay attention to the trends,” Thomson explained. “And what’s going on nationally to see if there are things we need to do, to tweak up.”

And as they prepare for a new marketing year, plans have already been formed to incorporate even more online and media-based content.

“It’s a lot more social media, a lot more magazine advertising,” Business Manager for The Mammoth Site of South Dakota Presston Gabel said. “A lot more voice commercials through Pandora and things like that.”

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