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Experience the LOVE of Virginia

Virginia Wins Award for Best State Travel Web Site

-Virginia Tourism Corporation wins Mercury Award at national conference-

RICHMOND, Va. (September 4, 2012) - The Virginia Tourism Corporation received a singular honor last week from the National Council of State Tourism Directors when it received the Mercury Award for Best Travel Web Site among states. The award was presented last week at the annual United States Travel Association ESTO Conference in Boston and accepted by representatives from VTC.

VTC's consumer travel Web site, www.Virginia.org, has historically been one of the nation's most-visited state tourism web sites but in 2011 it received a major artistic, structural and functional redesign, making it more user-friendly and containing more dynamic features and content. New search engine optimization strategies were implemented to put the Web site more prominently in the public eye. As a result, the site was accessed by more than 6,300,000 unique visitors in the 12 months following the 2011 re-launch.

"This award is a testament to the vision and efforts of VTC's Electronic Marketing team," said VTC interim president and CEO Rita McClenny. "Millions of people are drawn to our web site each year and our staff has worked hard to create a site that most effectively converts those viewers to actual visitors. It is one of Virginia's best marketing tools."

According to the USTA, the Mercury Awards "recognize members for excellence and creative accomplishment in state/ territory destination marketing and promotion; and inspire, by showcasing outstanding work, the continued development of imaginative and exciting marketing and promotional programs." U.S. state and territory tourism offices that are members of the United States Travel Association are eligible for the Mercury Awards.

Key among the new or upgraded features of the VTC Web site are: 

  • Interactive maps on attraction and destination pages showing nearby things to do and places to stay
  • Recommendations system alerting visitors to attractions and events similar to that being viewed
  • Enhanced trip planner allowing user to add items during a visit, organize them into itineraries and share them with friends and family via Facebook Connect integration

In creating the new web site, VTC had in mind certain standards and goals not only for general site visitation but also referrals to the Web sites of tourism industry partners throughout the Commonwealth. VTC far surpassed its goal of 750,000 referrals by conducting more than 970,000 site visitors to partner Web sites. VTC also wanted to increase site visitation to individual travel business listings on Virginia.org, setting 500,000 page views as a goal. The result ended up being more than 6.5 million page views of tourism business listings.

One of VTC's most important services is providing free page listings of information for Virginia destinations, attractions and events on its Web site. Localities, attractions, restaurants, shops and lodging providers are among the entities that can create and maintain their own individual pages on Virginia.org with information including Web site links, images and text description. The service is particularly valuable for those with limited marketing budgets. A tutorial and other help resources are available on the Web site for those creating listing pages.

In managing its internet presence VTC actively researches and keeps abreast of important current trends in how potential Virginia visitors search for, receive and process information. It also targets key demographic and geographic markets supplying visitors to the Commonwealth. The result is a Web site that is highly intuitive, user-friendly and effective.

Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. For more information on planning a Virginia vacation or getaway visit www.Virginia.org or call toll free 1-800-VISITVA for a free Virginia Is For Lovers Travel Guide.

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