As flight cancellations plagued international summer travel, many cooped-up locals took to the road and rails to explore, despite gas prices and fee surges. EscapeMaker.com, a veteran local travel marketer since 2000, rolled out its AR (Augmented Reality) development and content production services to its longtime agritourism, craft beverage, and special event clients this summer to help them get the edge on attracting their share of the increasing local travel market.
EscapeMaker’s AR clients will offer various engaging augmented reality experiences to incentivize travel and onsite visits, whether through historical walking or craft beverage tours, food menus, scavenger hunts, or exclusive musical and theatre performances. “Static tour apps are old news,” says Caylin Sanders, President and CEO of EscapeMaker. “Travelers want more fun, memorable and interactive experiences. With our custom AR apps launching later this year, visitors will engage with a destination like never before as they aim their mobile phones at select sites to see unique content.”
EscapeMaker relocated north from Brooklyn, New York, to the Hudson Valley during the pandemic. Upending their usual playbook, they invested in technology rather than traditional social media and old-school brand building to offset pandemic losses and weather the uncertainty of the local travel and special event market.
Although visitors bureaus and destination marketing organizations (DMOS) tightened their budgets once the pandemic hit, their marketing and advertising spending is finally returning to pre-2020 levels. According to Sanders, though, budgets previously diversified have been allocated mainly to Facebook or Google pay-per-view advertising, cannibalizing many marketer’s client lists. But as Facebook’s subscriber base declines, advertisers now realize those likes don’t always translate into in-person visits.
“Over the years, we found creative marketing solutions by adding event production, tour guide distribution, bus tours, and packaging in response to our destination client’s specific needs. It became apparent, though, that to sustain our small business and non-profit client base and still uphold our core mission to offer up local travel options to our subscribers, we needed to carve an innovative path forward,” says Sanders.
“We hope to see destinations embrace Web 3.0 by pursuing new technologies and promotional avenues to drive tourism and getting paid for the content they are already creating. Augmented reality is the future of local travel marketing. We want to be the first out of the gate to offer our users new experiences and offer our small business and non-profit tourism clients this affordable and cutting-edge service,” says Sanders.
EscapeMaker’s burgeoning AR client list includes Do Good Spirits Distillery in Sullivan County, NY, Urban Fork in Ulster County, NY, the Hudson Valley Farm + Flea festival in Orange County, NY, Somerset County Tourism / Sip & See Somerset Craft Beverage Trail in NJ and the Seaport Art Walk in Manhattan. All of the apps will be rolling out later this year, and The “EscapeMak(AR)” App will also include a directory of all clients’ AR experiences.
For more information about EscapeMaker’s Augmented Reality development and content creation services, visit //www.escapemaker.com/AR, or call 877-997-2726 to request more info.
More About EscapeMaker:
EscapeMaker.com promotes small businesses, non-profits, and women and minority-owned businesses within the local travel sector: farms, craft beverage trails, farm-to-table restaurants, B&B’s, visitor’s associations, and regional destinations. It was founded in 2000 by a mother-daughter duo with a small business loan. The company is MWBE Certified and 100% women-owned. EscapeMaker.com was the first website to promote taking local getaways using public transit in 2000. In 2008, they won an Emmy Award for an agritourism webisode series, and in 2011, they hosted the first eco expo showcasing Local Green Getaways. In 2016, they opened up the first agritourism pop-up shop at Fulton Stall Market, and in 2018, they produced the first virtual on-demand agritourism educational training platform for women by women. In 2020, they received a Local Food Promotion Grant from the USDA, and in 2021, EscapeMaker conceived of and co-produced the first Women in Food & Farming Expo in the US.