In April the Medical Tourism Association™ (MTA) traveled to Los Angeles for the annual International Pow Wow, which brings in more than 1,000 U.S. travel organizations and 1,200 international and domestic travel buyers from more than 70 countries all for the purpose of generating revenue in the future from USA travel. The MTA has been working with tourism boards, travel agents, hotels and others from all around the world to assist in making the connection between tourism and healthcare. Inbound medical tourism to the U.S. is becoming more of a focus for the MTA and those that are interested in increasing patients and tourism revenue in their area. This event marked the launch of the first global marketing campaign to attract international travelers to the U.S.
Brand USA was established by the Travel Promotion Act in 2010 which was passed as a way to start the nation’s first global marketing effort to promote the U.S. as a premier travel destination and communicate U.S. entry/exit policies and procedures. The Act established a public-private partnership between the travel industry and the U.S. government in efforts to drive job creation and spur economic growth.
“Our goal is nothing short of rekindling the world’s love affair with the USA- the place, the spirit and the dream,” said Jim Evans, CEO of Brand USA at a press conference hosted by the Pow Wow. “We want to spread America’s message of welcome around the world and invite travelers to experience the limitless possibilities the United States has to offer.”
This is the first time the since the USA was founded that the country has had a nationally coordinated effort dedicated to inviting tourists to visit.
“Visit USA associations and committees did a great job of doing what they could to attract visitors, but they are a membership organization so their funding was somewhat limited,” said Chris Perkins, CMO for Brand USA in an interview with the MTA. “Now we can collaborate with them and the industry to have a clear and consistent message.”
One of their first calls-to-action as a way to spread the word was to develop an anthem. Rosanne Cash, daughter of American music legend Johnny Cash, composed an original song titled “Land of Dreams.” As part of its marketing efforts Brand USA will extend invitations to musical artists from around the world to come and perform their music in their favorite U.S. cites as well as profiling their trips and favorite things about the USA online and through social media. The anthem is available at DiscoverAmerica.com.
“It’s about having an integrated campaign; the anthem is just a part of it. We will be doing trade shows, FAM Tours and have special promotions in key markets,” said Perkins.
One of their main initiatives is the USA All Access, which is a syndicated television series where the original content will be created by notable people from all over the world sharing experiences of their favorite places to go in the U.S.
They have an advertising campaign that launched May 1st in the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada which will last for three months followed by advertising in Brazil and South Korea. This advertising will take place on television, billboards, print ads, and a huge social media presence.
Since inbound medical tourism is developing more and more attention, this national marketing effort can only benefit this niche industry. This is the perfect opportunity for medical facilities in the U.S. to take every step in branding themselves as leaders in U.S. healthcare. The MTA’s Destination Guide Series would be helpful in doing this as it is a comprehensive guide geared towards consumers, showcasing all the tourism and healthcare aspects of an area. This guide could help in getting one step ahead of others; it would show that a hospital or hotel is capable of handling international patients and tourists.
As of right now, Brand USA has no plans in place to market to people searching for medical care in the U.S.
“It is something that we have plans for the future to do, but we had to start first with the biggest market which is leisure travel, that said we believe even the brand advertising will put us on the map in a way that it hasn’t before,” said Perkins. “ Hopefully we will collaborate with medical tourism industry partners to help shine a light on what they already do in order to promote that very unique kind of offering. “