Noble Studios worked closely with an advertising vendor in developing and synthesizing a new website while implementing inspiring designs and intuitive navigation. They now offer maintenance and guidance.
Through Noble Studios’ attentive involvement, the interactive platform facilitated a 23% increase in organic traffic and 30% more lodging referrals this year. The team’s eagerness to provide value and dedication to expanding their expertise continue to drive impressive results.
"We’ve always had an interactive relationship with Noble Studios."
Introduce your business and what you do there.
I’m the president and CEO of the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority (LTVA), which was created in 1986 as the South Lake Tahoe Destination Marketing Organization. Over the years, we expanded to marketing both Nevada and California South Shore assets.
What challenge were you trying to address with Noble Studios?
We work with an advertising company in San Francisco called Duncan Channon. After they did a branding exercise with the LTVA, we were in the market for a new website that would support the brand.
What was the scope of their involvement?
Noble Studios spoke with us about the most important decision-making points. For instance, events and lodging are important because that drives our revenue. Noble Studios synthesized that information into a site that was easily navigated by potential visitors. They worked closely with Duncan Channon on the development of our new website. It’s gone through a few changes, but they still maintain that for us and make recommendations. The website has lasted through our quickly changing technological environment.
Inspiration is really the purpose of the site. We’re trying to attract additional visitors to the area. The whole design process involved hero images and background selection. We had some right bar navigation that was really important for directing people and getting them quickly to the information they wanted. By inspiring people to travel, our most important goal is to refer business to our constituency and usher them down the funnel of decision making to purchase trip components. The site is not specifically designed for someone to stay on it for a long time. Our purpose is to give users cool information about the destination and then offer resources to get them to purchase a visit.
From 2010 to now, we’ve seen a lot of changes in websites from static, one-dimensional, informational content to interactive. Every two or three months, something new comes up. Noble Studios has had to adapt and stay on the cutting edge of those changes in order to anticipate how potential visitors make decisions and on what kind of platform. In 2010, we were all basically using desktop computers to research vacations and to plan and purchase them. Now, people primarily use mobile devices. We’ve had to follow an adaptive process over the past 7 years.
Our biggest overhaul was to make the site mobile-friendly. Noble Studios spearheaded that process for us. After the increase in mobile traffic, we’ve made some other changes. They actually have a continuing relationship with our advertising agency supporting some of our digital media buys. We’ve also expanded into organic search versus paid search and all those kinds of things. They also headed a personalization project last year, which is still evolving, to deliver information to a specific psychographic so that we can quickly identify what type of person might be considering South Lake Tahoe and deliver relevant information.
What is the team dynamic?
We’ve had a fairly consistent group of people with some changes over time. The team is digital, so I’m not directly involved in the day-to-day conversations. At least 3–5 people are working on our business on a regular basis. There may be more in the background who I’m unaware of. Andy [Client Success Manager, Noble Studios], our lead on that account, has bi-monthly calls with our digital team. They are constantly looking at information and analytics and adjusting accordingly. We’re never out of touch with them.
We’ve always had an interactive relationship with Noble Studios. There was a lot of conversation because the website is quite complex. We represent primarily lodging, but the site is designed to offer inspiration and contains a lot of information.
How did you come to work with Noble Studios?
Noble Studios had some experience with Duncan Channon in the past, so Duncan Channon actually brought them on board. However, Michael [CMO and Partner, Noble Studios] and I knew each other previously when he was with the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. We probably considered several other companies. Noble Studios offered creative solutions for a complex website. That probably had something to do with the final decision.
How much have you invested with them?
We’ve spent $500,000–$750,000.
What is the status of this engagement?
We started working together in 2010, and the collaboration is ongoing.
What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?
Three people on our team are actively involved with Noble Studios. Noble Studios also coordinates with our advertising agency. So, they have a set of goals that I can’t speak to. For our goals, we’re looking for interaction with a potential visitor. Unique visitors are always important to us. The personalization was another attempt to increase the number of page views and referrals. Our organic traffic grew by 23% this year, compared to the industry average of about 10%–15%. Those results are pretty impressive.
Our mobile growth in 2016 and 2017 grew to 53% from 46% the year before, thanks to the mobile platform that we’re using and offering. In our target market, San Francisco, we’ve had 10% growth year over year. We’ve grown by 12% in Los Angeles and 19% in San Diego. After our personalization project, our page sessions went from 2.61 to 3.14. Session duration grew from two minutes and 29 seconds to three minutes and 34 seconds. Our bounce rate went down by almost 10%. Our conversion rate for partner referrals was really important to get our visitors to an event page, a lodging page, or a restaurant page. That went from 6% to 12%. Our revenue source comes specifically from lodging and transient occupancy tax. Year after year, we did 30% more lodging referrals than the past year, which is impressive, particularly when we’re approaching a renewal of the tourism district that funds us.
How did Noble Studios perform from a project management standpoint?
Noble Studios constantly communicates with our digital team and has also been available to attend our board meetings and present some of the most meaningful information. They also explore ways to improve our performance on a regular basis. We communicate face to face, as well as via email and lots of phone calls. For the most part, with our staff, the relationship is very personal.
What did you find most impressive about them?
I joined the company in 2008. I can’t really compare them to another digital vendor. After working closely with Noble Studios, I don’t think we would be in such a strong position or have such great stats without their assistance. We have renewed our contract with them every year and don’t feel the need to look any further.
Michael and a few others from Noble Studios have impressive backgrounds that are tourism-related. They’ve become very knowledgeable in the tourism space and added other destinations that led to new solutions. They understand what we’re trying to achieve. Other digital companies may be suited to building something but aren’t necessarily as intuitively capable of working with a destination marketing organization.
Are there any areas they could improve?
We’ve run into a few hiccups but no red flags. Noble Studios is always challenging themselves and looking for additional ways to provide value. That’s part of their culture. They pride themselves on being able to evaluate their performance and knowledge base so that they can grow their expertise, which why we hired them.