Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, has just launched a redesigned washington.org. The new mobile-first site provides an immersive experience for users while maintaining its status as a go-to hub to discover Washington, DC neighborhoods, art, culture, shopping, sports, theaters, museums, hotels, deals and up-to-date information about the city. Developer MMGY Global provided expertise on the official visitor website for the nation’s capital.
“Our website is one of the most important ways we communicate with potential visitors and locals, and after a year where travel has been decimated, it’s fitting to start off 2021 with a fresh look at the destination as we have an eye toward recovery,” said Elliott L. Ferguson, II, president and CEO of DDC. “Users will also find detailed information on virtual and appropriate in-person ways to celebrate opportunities this year as we look forward to DC’s phased reopening and signature events including the National Cherry Blossom Festival, July 4th, DCJazzFest and beyond.”
Visitors to the revamped washington.org will experience optimized navigation and search, and up-to-date information about the city, including the latest travel status and safety measures in place at travel-related businesses. New long-form stories, photography and video create an interactive experience on the site. For the convention audience, business event strategists find enhanced meetings and convention tools. Hotels, dining and attraction deals are tailored to visitors. Journalists will easily find story inspiration in the revamped press room. Group tour operators can prepare before visiting with virtual itineraries and, in the future, take advantage of additional educational content.
“One of the hallmarks of the site is major design-inspired articles that are published several times a year. ‘Headliner’ content, as we refer to it, highlights what sets DC apart from other destinations and unfolds online in a similar way to major digital publications,” said Robin A. McClain, senior vice president, marketing and communications. “For instance, we’re proud that so many of DC’s world-renowned museums and attractions are free. The new design allows our ‘free things to do’ content to stand out in a way that will help engage a large audience as they begin to think about traveling again, perhaps before they’ve decided where to go, and ultimately inspire them to come to DC.”
The new website was designed for mobile first, as web traffic from mobile devices accounts for roughly 60 percent of site traffic on washington.org. MMGY Global, a leading integrated marketing agency specializing in tourism, provided strategic insight from concept to launch of the new website.
“Today's travelers are consuming content on mobile devices and expect content and recommendations tailored to whom they are and what is important to them. With these insights in mind, we focused our efforts on producing a content-rich, mobile experience to deliver a great user experience and reveal all that Washington, DC has to offer, creating a first-in-class destination website,” said Robert Patterson, VP of Marketing Technology, MMGY Global.
After 10 years of record tourism growth to Washington, DC, with 24.6 million visitors in 2019, visitation was expected to fall by 53 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, according to Tourism Economics. In 2019, tourism generated $8.2 billion in visitor spending and $896 million in local tax revenue. As of December 2020, visitor spending was down 79 percent, or $4.9 billion, compared to the same period last year, according to Tourism Economics.
Once the pandemic subsides and recovery can begin in earnest, the updated site serves as a primary tool in motivating potential visitors. DDC’s work to inspire visitation directly benefits the local economy and residents of the District through visitor spending, tax revenue and local jobs.
“Our team was dedicated to developing this site during a very challenging year as the city and country have grappled with the pandemic, racial injustice and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building a few weeks ago,” said McClain. “As we witnessed the peaceful transition of power during inauguration, we will reinforce Washington, DC as a place for peaceful protest tourism, experiencing history and exercising your First Amendment rights.”
The site refresh coincides with glowing accolades and many reasons to visit Washington, DC in 2021 when travel can more widely resume. The city was given top billing in “The Best Destinations in the World: The 2021 Gold List” by Condé Nast Traveler, and named one of the “12 hottest destinations of 2021” by The Points Guy, as well as one of the “Best Places 2021” by Frommer’s. In 2021, three new hotels will open in Washington, DC: The VEN at Embassy Row, Kimpton Banneker and the Cambria Hotel Washington D.C. Capitol Riverfront. Amtrak, the only long-distance intercity passenger railroad in the U.S., celebrates 50 years in 2021. Arts and culture milestones include the 175th anniversary of the Smithsonian Institution, the 125th anniversary of the DC Public Library system, the 100th anniversary of The Phillips Collection and the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Center.
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