Ideas

If there is one thing Central Florida has no shortage of it is tourist attractions. From Walt Disney World to Universal Studios and SeaWorld, Orlando is a mecca for all things entertainment, but it has never seen something quite like this before.

Machine Gun America, a one-of-a-kind firearms experience in the heart of Orlando, wanted to introduce the market’s first adult-oriented tourist attraction. Providing an opportunity for everyday people to feel the thrill and excitement of shooting fully-automatic machine guns, Machine Gun America offers a true “bucket list” experience.

Our understanding of the central Florida market specifically, and the travel and tourism industry in general, helped confirm a booming business opportunity for MGA. We knew the market had a limited number of non-family-oriented activities for adults to enjoy, which was particularly important to the large number of meetings and convention attendees that visit Orlando each year. Of the roughly 60 million visitors coming to the Orlando area each year, nearly 70% of them are adults who travel alone.

By all accounts, Machine Gun America had the potential to reach a large and viable adult audience in the Orlando area. However, the challenges were daunting. Given the family-friendly perception of the market, Machine Gun America was going to need to tackle head-on the polarizing topic of guns.

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Work

We recognized that for Machine Gun America to be successful, we needed to strike a balance between communicating the unforgettable thrill of shooting a real machine gun and reinforcing the safety measures taken by MGA to make that a reality.

To accomplish this, we positioned MGA as an exhilarating, yet totally secure “Automatic Adrenaline Attraction,” located in a state-of-the-art facility and staffed by highly trained former military and police personnel as their Range Safety Officers. This messaging was carried throughout a fully integrated communications campaign.

To begin, we developed a cohesive brand identity that featured rugged, military and Americana characteristics that embody the MGA experience. Our team was also involved in all aspects of establishing the attraction as a must-see experience, which included everything from interior design and signage to hotel rack cards.

Given the polarizing nature of the gun topic in America, we recognized that public relations and social media needed to be at the core of any communication plan. MGA needed to manage the conversation, rather than just react to it. Once again focusing on reassuring the safety features in place at the facility, our team executed aggressive public relations and social media campaigns that kept MGA, and their grand opening, at the forefront of major publications and social channel conversations.

Our social media strategic plan included Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and TripAdvisor, with tactics including advertising and posting brand content highlighting the unique firearms at MGA, the accomplished staff members, the state-of-the-art facility, military-grade simulators, and special pricing provided through Facebook offers.

We also executed a digital display and PPC campaign to efficiently drive traffic to the attraction’s website, designed and developed by our team as well. The website helped potential guests quickly and easily learn more about MGA while ultimately guiding them toward reserving a shooting package. The website also integrated with MGA’s point-of-sale system.

Results

In just six months, public relations efforts generated 958 print, broadcast and online stories, and 3,416 blogs, discussion board posts and YouTube clips.

Further, our efforts helped generate a total of 36,560 website referrals. The estimated Ad Value exceeded $2.77 million, creating 22.5 million impressions across the globe.

Social media efforts also exceeded goals. Facebook page impressions grew 2,448% to 1.7 million, with engagement rates five times the industry benchmarks. MGA became the number one attraction in the ‘Things to Do in Orlando’ TripAdvisor category.

Most importantly, store traffic exceeded stated objectives by 75%, reaching our 12-month goals in half the time. Further, 50% of the visitors purchased live shooting experience with the average spend more than 33% above goals.

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