NITDC & Votion

One component of online contests and promotions, that is often overlooked, is the impact they can have on offline engagement. This is how one travel organization had a massive success in getting people physically out to restaurants within their region through an online voting contest.

The Northern Indiana Tourism Development Committee (NITDC) is an organization whose mission is to increase tourism spending in their region. They utilize consumer research, marketing and advertising programs to promote their region's tourism businesses and attractions. Last year, NITDC partnered with Bracketeers to run a "Burger Wars" contest that was successful in reaching over 100,000 votes.

The Idea

Due to the success of last year, NITDC decided to do it again. This time with Pizza! It was called "Pizza Wars" in which the NITDC ran a best-of-contest in multiple counties that let audiences determine the best pizza restaurant in each county. During the campaign, pizza restaurant owners reported a dramatic rise in business. Much of the new foot traffic was driven from online engagement, where people were talking about their favorite pizza restaurants on Facebook, in blogs and on Twitter.

But the NITDC didn't stop there! Once the preliminary county winners were established they created a "Pizza Trail map" that guided visitors to each of the county winners' establishments, iniating great online to offline conversion.

How It Worked

The concept was great, the businesses were engaged so now it was just time to create a plan of action. That plan was actually fairly simple. Here's how it worked:

  1. NITDC came up with a general campaign theme (Food)
  2. They then picked a specific category to dive into (Pizza)
  3. They sourced 8 great pizza restaurants in each county, then curated great content and imagery for each one
  4. They ran bracket style voting contests to let the audience determine the best pizza within each county. Here is an example of one of their county campaigns.
  5. Once winners were determined, they then put together a "best of the best" contest where each winner of the county campaigns faced off until one winner was crowned. Here is their campaign in 'finished' mode.
  6. Along the way they were active social networks, and encouraged their competitors in the contests to be as well. That led to a viral effect for the campaign, and amplified the reach.


But with every winning recipe there is a secret ingredient that give it that winning title. The restaurants involved were very engaged during the campaign, promoting themselves to their fans via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. The fans in return got involved and were very happy to spread the word about their personal favorite restaurants. This allowed the campaign's dramatically increased reach to be incredibly organic. 



The Results

 Word of mouth spreads far and fast! It drove so much foot traffic that the pizza restaurants actually sold out of ingredients! 

"Just one day after the county pizza winners were announced, we had pizzeria owners nearly running out of supplies, their restaurants were so slammed with business. It’s incredibly gratifying to see these mom-and-pop businesses flourish across Northern Indiana".

- Robby Bearss, marketing manager with NITDC

Ultimately this was a greatly successful campaign, and it's a great blueprint for how to drive offline engagement from online contests. 


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