e-Traveler - Soul 2.0 Launch & Updates

January 26, 2024

Fayette County: Turkey River Recreational Corridor
Photo credit: Fayette County: Turkey River Recreational Corridor 

Here are the most important updates this week: 

Join the Soul of Iowa 2.0 Launch Webinar

You are invited to join the Iowa Tourism Office as we launch the Soul of Iowa 2.0 campaign on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at 2 p.m. The campaign aims to show Iowa from a whole new perspective with eye-catching drone visuals and a variety of advertising tactics. Our launch webinar will outline the media strategy, tactical details and premiere some of the creative. The campaign will run through fall 2024, with new videos and assets dropping throughout the coming months.

If your community hosted video crews last year, please join us to view the timeline of when your community will be featured and what you can expect.



Registration Open for the Tourism Insider Meeting

Join industry partners from all over the state for the year's first Tourism Insider Meeting in Decorah on February 27-28. Discussion topics include agritourism and wayfinding, and tours include the Vesterheim (our meeting venue) and Toppling Goliath. We will also announce our next five Tourism Insider Meeting hosts.

A hotel block is available at the Hotel Winneshiek for the nights of February 26-27. The rate is $119/night+tax. Book your room by calling the hotel at 563.382.4164. The reservation deadline is February 9, 2024.

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


Registration Open; Nominate Outstanding Tourism Organizations

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.

The conference also includes the annual Iowa Tourism Awards, which recognize the amazing work and innovation by Iowa's tourism organizations that have positively contributed to the experience of visitors. Submit your nominations by 4 p.m. on Friday, February 2, 2024. 

Soul 2.0 Influencer's Content Resonates with Travelers 

Results are in from the 10 influencers who visited 18 communities and/or counties as part of the Soul 2.0 campaign last summer/fall. The overall view-through rate of the Reels created was 45.35%, more than double the industry benchmark of 20%.
Collectively, the influencer campaign topped 850,000 impressions with 5,086 total engagements and 438 total saves. Nearly 500 pieces of content (including vertical video and static photography) were created. These pieces will be utilized in future owned tactics and channels as well as amplified through allow listing and cross promotions.

Registration Open for Midwest Travel Network Conference

The Midwest Travel Network conference, set for June 13-15 in Shipshewana, Indiana, offers notable speakers and learning opportunities for both Midwest-based bloggers and destination marketers. The Iowa Tourism Office has been a sponsor of the conference since its inaugural event in Clear Lake in 2018. The conference provides great networking opportunities to build relationships with bloggers. Visit midwesttravelnetwork.com for more information. 

Hop on These 2024 Social Media Trends
With the new year in full swing, check out the top trends projected to take over social media that you can implement into your 2024 social strategy. 
  • AI will be your best friend. From content creation to social listening, AI capabilities will transform (and simplify) the way you do social media. Try ChatGPT to get started.
  • Longer videos are making a comeback. While the demand for video continues to rise, platforms are extending their max time length, allowing users to create longer form content. Quality content deserves to be shown, so try experimenting with videos over one minute to stay relevant. 
  • Social media is the new search engine. Survey suggests that social platforms are becoming Gen Z’s and Millennials’ new way of sourcing information. Create evergreen content that stays relevant, and the more engagement that content gets, the more it will rise to the top of social search results.
  • The new year offers a great time to audit your social media channels. Take the time to update information, review analytics and define upcoming goals to help structure your 2024 strategy. 

Reminder: Cancel Auto-Shipments to Former Welcome Centers 
We would like to remind partners that the four Interstate Welcome Centers are closed. Please make sure you've removed them from your guides and brochures auto-shipments list. 

Helpful Tools to Organize Grant Opportunities
When developing your Grant Database, get to know your funders and the document details that will help you win a grant award. Identify funder priorities and goals and what they've funded in the past. When possible, connect with the funder through one-on-one engagement, webinars or workshops.

Featured Grant: Inspire Iowa Cultural Tourism Grant, a partnership between the Iowa Tourism Office and the Iowa Arts Council, will fund a limited number of highly visible and high-impact arts, culture and heritage events, performances, productions or exhibitions to attract new visitors to Iowa and showcase Iowa as a cultural tourism destination. Applications are due January 31, 2024. 

STR Report Results 
Year end results for hotel occupancy and rates have been published in the monthly STR report. Iowa hotel occupancy was flat in 2023 at 53.7%, while the average daily hotel rate rose by 5% to $106.70 per night. More details can be found on Travel Iowa's Industry Partners page along with hotel/motel tax distributions for your community. 


  • January 29, 2024 - Community Catalyst Building Remediation grant pre-applications due
  • January 31, 2024 - Inspire Iowa Grant applications due at 11:59 p.m.
  • January 31, 2024 - Destination Iowa pre-applications due
  • February 6 - Soul of Iowa 2.0 webinar, virtual
  • February 27-28, 2024 - Tourism Insider Meeting, Decorah
  • March 20-23, 2024 - Iowa Tourism Conference, Des Moines
  • April 18, 2024 - Iowa Tourism Office webinar, virtual