Learn about Google’s impact from state to state, and why they recognized Black Hills Balloons to represent South Dakota in their 2020 Economic Impact Report.

Sometimes following your dreams can make your career journey even more special. In 2015, Keely and Damien Mahony were enjoying fulfilling jobs in Florida. Damien was the general manager of a ballooning company and Keely was a marketing philanthropy executive. Though successful, the couple dreamt of a slower-paced life. So when Black Hills Balloons, a hot air balloon company in Custer, South Dakota, went up for sale, they bought it. Now they strive to reach new customers and give them incredible experiences. Customers often find Black Hills Balloons through Google Ads, which helps their company show up when people search for South Dakota activities. The couple also uses Google Analytics to understand where interest is coming from and to better focus their ad dollars.

Despite COVID-19, Keely and Damien continued providing bucket-list adventures with just a few adjustments. As an outdoor activity, Black Hills Balloons made some changes for CDC compliance and customer comfort. “We found that we had a lot of unexpected tourism,” says Keely. “People ended up getting in their car and coming to South Dakota because we have a lot of wide open spaces. Luckily, it’s been safe and people have shared what we’re doing, so others are booking and flying with us.” In 2020, they continued to use Google Ads—and their impressions doubled versus 2019. Another key to Black Hills Balloons’ success has been their Business Profile on Google. “We try to connect with our customers through reviews. Their photos help bring in clicks and calls. Plus, some of them have specifically mentioned what we’re doing from a safety standpoint,” says Keely. With more customers discovering Black Hills Balloons, Keely and Damien are excited about the future. “People who came absolutely had a blast. And they’re not only coming back, they’re telling their friends,” says Damien. “So, the secret of the Black Hills is going to be a little less secret.”