Texas ready to go large

The USA’s second biggest state is pushing brand-new frontiers as it highlights its unique regions and attractions to UK travellers, writes Peter Ellegard

Texas is back in the UK market with a bang. The Lone Star State’s tourism industry is dusting down its cowboy hats and polishing its cowhide leather boots to woo British holidaymakers. 

The state tourism office, Travel Texas, has invested in the UK market over a long period and has now returned after a hiatus during the Covid crisis with renewed vigour. August saw the appointment of destination specialist MMGY Hills Balfour as its new representation office in the UK and Ireland, working in conjunction with award-winning advertising agency, MDSG.

Both are spearheading an integrated marketing strategy for Texas, including rolling out the tourism board’s latest campaign, ‘Let’s Texas’. This strategy includes consumer marketing and creative campaigns, travel trade activity, media relations and social media elements.

A sales and media mission organised by MMGY Global and MDSG for Travel Texas took place in the UK and the Netherlands in March, with partners Visit Austin, Visit Houston, Visit San Antonio, Visit Dallas, Visit Lubbock, Visit Fredericksburg, The Woodlands and Virgin Atlantic. 

A project in partnership with Brand USA, it involved a product workshop and travel agent events in London and Amsterdam.

Fort worth inset
Fort Worth’s historic stockyards

Texas Frontiers

Travel Texas has also launched a Texas Frontiers consumer campaign targeting the UK, partnering with Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, American Airlines, United and Virgin Atlantic. 

It highlights Texas as being frontier country, with ‘frontier’ exploring several layers: from its Western heritage and cowboy roots to pushing ‘new frontiers’ in technology, arts, music, culture and other spheres. Each partner has its dedicated ‘frontier theme’ to lure visitors – themes that can also be used as hooks by agents.

A website texasfrontiers.com has been created and it features a competition to win a trip for two to Texas. Promotional activity to support it is being undertaken in print and online with national publications, on Facebook and on Instagram.

Texas is promoting itself in the UK using communication channels that include TV, print, radio, cinema and by advertising on hoardings and billboards. There are also targeted digital options. 

A year-long campaign, it is currently using the key post-summer holiday booking period of September and October to target 2023 bookings. 

The Texas Frontiers digital campaign has already notched up success in awards run by Newsworks, the marketing body for the UK’s national news publishers. 

Bought and planned by MDSG, it was crowned June’s ‘ad of the month’ from a shortlist that included HSBC, Renault and the National Lottery.

Houston inset
Houston’s Space Odyssey

Trade plans 

Travel Texas trade and media plans for the financial year to the end of August 2023 include attending the Brand USA Travel Week Europe in Frankfurt in late September, and Unite Visit USA in London next March. 

In addition, IPW, the US Travel Association’s annual international inbound travel trade show, takes place in San Antonio next May and post-event Fam trips are planned as part of a big focus by Travel Texas and state destinations. 

The UK and European Brand USA Mega Fam will visit Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth this November. Meanwhile, Travel Texas destination training and in-person agent events will take place year-round.

The prime focus for Travel Texas with its UK consumer and trade efforts is to inspire first-time visitors to take a trip to Texas.

Austin inset
No limits on BBQ in Austin

A whole lot of Texas

While some of its cities are very familiar to British travellers from TV shows and movies, at almost three times the size of the UK and the USA’s second-largest state, there’s a whole lot of Texas to discover and explore.

Its vast landscapes offer stunning scenery and opportunities for viewing the cosmos: such as at McDonald Observatory near Fort Davis, where an annual Dark Skies Fest includes music and star spotting, Palo Duro Canyon and pink-granite Enchanted Rock, near Austin. The great outdoors doesn’t come much greater than in Texas. Explore national and state parks including vast Big Bend, spanning more than 800,000 acres. 

For a Wild West time, visit Bandera, the ‘Cowboy Capital of the World’, or saddle up at ranches such as Wildcatter, near Fort Worth. The influence and heritage of Native Americans, including Comanche and Apache, can be enjoyed at several festivals.

A cornucopia of cuisines range from Texan barbecue favourites and Tex-Mex to Asian and many more styles, with award-winning chefs in all big cities.

Arts and culture are huge in Texas, from world-class museums and art galleries to concert halls. You can even catch a rodeo and go to the ballet on the same day. 

And, being Texas, there is live music pretty much everywhere you go.

What are you waiting for? Let’s Texas!