e-Traveler - 2024 Travel Guide Release + More

February 22, 2024


Here are the most important updates this week: 

  • 2024 Iowa Travel Guide now available!
    Last chance to register and join us for the Tourism Insider Meeting in Decorah, February 27-28.
    Two new programs to provide tourism readiness training announced.

2024 Iowa Travel Guide Now Available

It’s finally here! The 2024 Iowa Travel Guide is now available. Automatic shipments will be processed and sent to welcome centers, partner offices and others who have received bulk orders in the past.

Thank you to all partners who have purchased advertising to support the travel guide and/or shared your events, attractions and new destinations. (Note: It’s never too early to send information on what will be new in your area in 2025!) We appreciate your support in distributing the guides to travelers.

Last Call for Registrations for the Tourism Insider Meeting

Join industry partners from all over the state for the Tourism Insider Meeting in Decorah on February 27-28. View the agenda here. The meeting registration deadline is today, Wednesday, February 21 at 4 p.m. If your plans have changed and you can no longer attend, please let Stephanie Neppl (stephanie.neppl@iowaeda.com) know ASAP.

Please reach out to Stephanie Neppl (stephanie.neppl@iowaeda.com) with questions.


Two New Programs Provide Tourism Readiness Opportunities
Travel Iowa is partnering with Iowa State University on two new programs, created out of the industry strategic plan imperative of ensuring tourism readiness.
The statewide Tour Guide Training Workshop will be held April 17 at Briggs Woods Conference Center in Webster City. Tailored for individuals who lead programs at Iowa’s diverse destinations, the interactive workshop will help attendees focus on creating dynamic programs and refining their personal presentation skills. Upon completion, participants have the option to pursue Professional Guide Certification from Iowa State University. See the flyer for more information and to register.

The First Impressions program is a comprehensive community assessment conducted by a trained team of unannounced visitors. This program will help communities with a population of 10,000 or fewer identify their strengths and weaknesses through the lens of a first-time visitor and develop strategies to strengthen their tourism economy. We will be announcing more about the First Impressions program at the 2024 Iowa Tourism Conference!

Soul of Iowa 2.0 Initial Results & Learnings

The Soul of Iowa 2.0 campaign launched in late January and is already capturing the attention of travelers. So far, the campaign has garnered 7.7M impressions and 2.2M video views. An interesting trend being observed is that Meta (Facebook and Instagram) has been prioritizing long-form video over shorter clips, indicating a highly engaged audience. In March, the campaign will ramp up with the addition of Connected TV and programmatic online video advertising. Partners that have been featured so far will be receiving links to online toolkits to materials soon. 

Registration Open

The annual Iowa Tourism Conference will be held on March 20-21, 2024, at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines. This can't-miss conference is dedicated to promoting Iowa's tourism destinations and attractions through marketing initiatives.  

Registration is open now, and the deadline is Friday, March 8, 2024. 

The Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel is offering a rate for attendees of $149/night + tax. The Savery is connected to the Iowa Events Center via the Des Moines Skywalk. The deadline for securing a room is February 28, 2024. 

Please note that shuttle access for the Wednesday evening social will only be available to attendees staying at the host hotel.

Vote for Iowa on USA Today 10Best Lists
Iowa is represented on several USA Today 10Best list contests – you can vote daily! Share these on your personal and business social media accounts to help Iowa take home the gold.
  • Best Small Town Beer Scene: Decorah - VOTE
  • Best Minor League Ballpark: Modern Woodmen Park, Davenport - VOTE
  • Best Art Festival: Des Moines Arts Festival - VOTE
  • Best City Food Festival: World Food & Music Festival, Des Moines - VOTE

Americans' Social Media Use Insight

The Pew Research Center recently released its annual social media usage study. Here are a few takeaways on how you can maximize your social presence on the most popular online platforms.
  • YouTube - With 83% of U.S. adults reporting ever using it, YouTube takes the top spot for most widely used online platform. Make sure you're including YouTube Shorts in your video strategy. 
  • Facebook - Majority of users say they use Facebook for news-worthy content or entertainment. Try to keep a steady content mix in your strategy.
  • Instagram - This platform is much more popular with younger individuals compared to YouTube and Facebook. Utilize the in-app tools to match consumer behavior on the platform. 

Helpful Tools to Organize Grant Opportunities

Savvy professionals know grant funding can be used to leverage more funding and minimize the amount of local money they need to implement dynamic projects. Grants typically pay for 10% to 90% of the total cost of a project. The funds you must contribute to a project are called “match” or “matching funds." The majority of grantors will not allow use of similar funds for matching funds. Generally, state funds cannot be used to match a state grant and federal funding cannot be used as match for a federal grant. However, state funds can match federal funds and visa-versa.  

Featured Grant: Iowa communities who want to expand local art and culture, which tourists highly value, have opportunities to capture state and federal funding to implement projects. Consider exploring Iowa Arts & Cultural grants and related federal National Endowment for the Arts grants.

The State of the American Traveler Update

Recognized as one of the nation's leading travel studies of American leisure travelers, The State of the American Traveler features quarterly research of over 4,000 adult travelers. The most recent report included survey information that was collected January 19-23.

Here are some of the key highlights:
  • Personal finance sentiment weakened slightly this month - 31% think they’re better off than a year ago; 40% unchanged; 28% worse off
  • 31% think it’s a good time to spend $ on travel; 33% feel it’s not; downward direction, same as a year ago
  • Millennials most likely to think it’s a good time to travel (35%), followed by Baby Boomers (31%)
  • High costs continue to be an impediment to travel; personal financial reasons #1 reason, high travel costs #2
  • Day trip volume strong this year; 64% taken a day trip in previous month
  • Still largely optimistic about future finances (48% believe better/much better off in a year) and hold high levels of excitement for travel (85% rate excitement at 6 or above on 10-point scale)
  • 52% intend to make leisure travel a spending priority in the next three months
  • Expectations for future travel held steady