SUMMER TRAVEL SETS A RED-HOT PACE

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Once again, it's a hot summer for travel and Mickey is one happy mouse.

Overall travel is up, according to the Travel Industry Association of America, as are domestic travel and spending.

A Travelometer survey done by the TIAA this spring of 1,500 travel managers showed domestic travel is expected to increase 2% in 1995 over last year while spending will rise 9% to $1,076 per person. The survey indicated consumers are planning two or more trips this summer.

Much of the enthusiasm for this is fueled by the highest consumer confidence in five years, according to the study.

That means states and attractions are calling on their most effective marketing guns to gain their share of the hot summer tourist action.

Some of the most popular stops are expected to be California, Florida, Hawaii, Colorado, New York, Alaska, Arizona, Texas and Washington, D.C. Those destinations are all learning dollars can be stretched and messages can be more effective with new and innovative marketing tricks, value-added programs and co-op advertising dollars.

The top destination attraction, according to Carlson Travel Network, Minneapolis, is Walt Disney World, Orlando, Fla. Others likely to see a heavy influx of guests include: Las Vegas; Disneyland, Anaheim, Calif.; Universal Studios, Orlando; national parks; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and the family-oriented, country music tandem of Branson, Mo., and Opryland in Nashville, Tenn.

Those seeking lodging deals while away from home don't have to look far. While many hotel chains leave summer promotions up to individual properties, chainwide promos are plentiful and inexpensive.

Kids stay and eat free at Holiday Inn core hotels. Disney World has opened three All-Star hotels on-site with a $69 rate that includes ticket packages.

Forte Hotels, noting that many of its guests travel in their own automobiles, is offering Citgo gas and movie tickets to "Congo" at 500 properties plus regional promos for tickets or discounts to Six Flags, Disneyland and Paramount Studios.

Air travel is expected to increase over last year due to "significant bargains," said Jill Mross, manager-public relations with the American Automobile Association, Heathrow, Fla.

States are hoping new ideas and new dollars will equal more visitors.

California is running new ads, from J. Walter Thompson USA, San Francisco, designed to support the state's direct response program. Last year, that effort added 616,000 leisure travel visitors to the state plus an additional $314 million in spending, according to the California Division of Tourism.

Alaska and Hawaii are pushing their natural amenities and heritage with co-op dollars. Hawaii's print ads from Ogilvy & Mather, Honolulu, are themed "The most beautiful islands in the world."

Hawaii's $9 million ad budget is backed by $5 million of co-op money from American Express Co., Sheraton Hotels, Hilton Hotels and Hawaiian Airlines.

Along the same line, Branson is co-oping ad campaigns created by Bozell Worldwide, New York, with its GM MasterCard partnership. Visitors who use a GM card in Branson receive discounts to shows.

It is much the same in Florida where co-op marketing from 42 partners, contributing $14.4 million, has dramatically boosted the state's ad efforts, according to Ginger Watters, senior VP-travel and tourism with Fahlgren Benito, Tampa, the state's agency. The Northeast, Latin America and Brazil were Florida's targets this winter.

"This year, we want to co-op all of it," she said.

In the nation's capital, the D.C. Committee to Promote Washington also became innovative when it invited 18 of its usual print outlets to pitch new programs. The result were ads in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel Holiday, Mid-Atlantic Monthly, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, USA Today and USA Weekend.

Created by Goldberg, Marchesano Kohlman, Washington, ads included a four-page gatefold entitled "Weekends in Washington, D.C., start here"; it featured a map, sample itineraries and a hotel listing, plus "Monuments & More," a four-page editorial supplement on D.C. attractions.

"We are going to start doing a lot more of this," said Melanie Suggs, marketing manager of the committee.

Theme parks in Florida and other locations are also doing brisk business due to their in-state marketing.

Opryland's promotion in certain Tennessee markets allows for $10 off when guests show their hometown newspaper at the park's gate. Opryland also cross-promotes with Opryland Hotel for room packages with the park and hotel.

Florida's theme parks, deluged with out-of-state guests during peak seasons, still rely heavily on in-state marketing to fill a void.

In a promotion tied with Delta Orlando Resort, Holiday Inn-Universal, Gateway Inn and Radisson Towers, Universal promotes a Super Star Getaway in South Florida. For $49 for adults and $25 for kids, guests receive one night and two days at the studios.

Reggie Whitehead, VP-marketing for Disney World, said his park promotes in-state year-round.

"We have regional promos tied to markets in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville," he said. "Our residential salute for Florida residents is $27 a day, pick your park."

Also, after 4 p.m., residents of the Sunshine State can enter Epcot or MGM Studios for $16 vs. $37 all day.

In Tampa, Busch Garden's Thom Stork said Tampa and Orlando residents can get a $3.50 discount at participating McDonald's.

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