Hotels and tourist attractions around the East Valley and the state are giving away the shop — and the spa, guest rooms and restaurants — to get local folks’ attention.
Arizona Office of Tourism is slated to launch today an Internet campaign targeted at vacation-minded Arizonans with lots of prizes as the lure.
By visiting www.arizonagiveaways.com, wannabe vacationers can win a $100 dinner for two at Monti’s La Casa Vieja in Tempe, a $4,225, a three-day luxury suite and spa visit at the Four Seasons Scottsdale Resort, or a $25 shopping spree at Chandler Fashion Center.
The state visitors’ agency plans to give away 300 prizes with values ranging from $25 to $8,000 for a four-day, six-person Monument Valley hike with Navajo guides.
The marketing campaign’s purpose is to lure local people to the Web site, which will feature lots of discounted deals aimed at selling people on staying in Arizona for their summer getaway, said Margie Emmermann, Arizona Office of Tourism director.
"This is mainly an in-state campaign," Emmermann said. "We’re looking to get people moving around Arizona."
But she said anybody can take advantage of the deals and try for a prize. Vacation shoppers from Southern California, New Mexico and Nevada might be enticed to drive to Arizona for a weekend to get a free meal, round of golf or spa treatment, she said.
Half of the year-round guests at the Marriott resorts at McDowell Mountain in Scottsdale and Mountain Shadows and Camelback Inn in Paradise Valley come from the Phoenix-Scottsdale-Mesa market, said Terri Worthington, spokeswoman for the properties.
"And in summer, 75 percent of our business comes from local people," she said.
Her hotels have chipped in free rooms, golf rounds and spa treatments as prizes for the campaign, she said.
Even if the vacation shopper doesn’t win a freebie, Worthington hopes a $149 luxury room with a $50 credit on golf, dining, shopping or spa services will be enough of a prize to snag new summer business.
Worthington likes Internet-based marketing because she can change programs without reprinting brochures and incurring other costs.
Emmermann said the tourism agency choose the Web for the summer campaign because it was cheaper than other means of marketing, and because it has become a popular place for making travel purchases.
"We’re keeping up with technology and trying to find a cost-effective way to get our message out at a time when our budget is (crunched)," she said. "This is a critical time for the state, and it’s really important to keep our tourism dollars up and stimulate the economy."
Arizona Office of Tourism spent $55,000 — half its summer promotion budget — on the campaign and Web site, said James Ahlers, spokesman for the agency.
A study of national tourism behavior nationwide found that people are more inclined to travel by car instead of fly for vacations this year mostly because of economic concerns.
Emmermann said that means a locally focused promotion is likely to find a ready audience.
"We know travel behaviors are changing," she said.
"People are looking to stay closer to home, to drive, not fly. We want to make sure Arizona is on the top of their minds for a vacation destination," she said.