Though the world continues to change around us, convincing travelers to spend time in our own little slice of it remains a top objective and a driving economic force for many towns, both large and small.
In fact, tourism marketing is a major contributor to the United States economy, accounting for approximately 2.75 trillion U.S. dollars in 2018.
So, who’s in charge of attracting all of those visitors (and dollars)?
At the heart of the local tourism industry are Convention & Visitor Bureaus (CVBs). The CVB is the organization that pulls individuals and groups together to market their community as a whole. Hotels, restaurants, local attractions and event promotion teams all work with their local CVB to attract visitors and locals to their businesses.
Many CVBs get their marketing dollars from state agencies and local hotel taxes. The job of the CVB is make sure there are “heads in beds” at local hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts.
But what if your community doesn’t have a pro sports team, a vibrant food scene or some of the other attractions larger cities might offer?
Small markets must take a unique approach to advertising their communities. More creativity is required in determining what is considered an “attraction,” and more strategy is needed in order to speak to potential visitors in a compelling way. (For example, there is a rising number of travelers looking for experiences that are “off-the-beaten-path,” or of historical significance. This is where a smaller community can shine!)
The Challenges Convention & Visitor Bureaus Face
But even after a town has identified what to say and how to say it, smaller CVBs will continue to face the same key challenges:
It is typical for a smaller community to have a small CVB staff. Many CVBs are staffed by one individual who is responsible for everything from marketing their community, to acting as a step-on guide, to organizing local events to overseeing social media for their community. All of this is in addition to the daily rigor of managing a budget, attending city functions and many other administrative tasks. Therefore, self-promotion efforts are limited or too often pushed to the back burner.
A smaller community, with no large-scale attractions, is going to have less money to use in marketing their community. They are going to have to work closer with other businesses in the community to make those funds go further and will have to be creative in how they spend their money to receive the best ROI.
- Attractions (or lack thereof)
Among the largest challenges for smaller communities is how to answer the question: “But what is there to do here?” And sometimes the struggle isn’t always just from outsiders. If your city doesn’t have an attraction that brings in thousands of people a year, it’s easy for even your locals to think that there is nothing to do.
It all comes down to time, money and resources.
If your staff is being pulled in many different directions, it’s important to bring in someone who can help take responsibilities off their plate. That’s where a marketing agency comes in.
When you hire an agency, you have a full team of people ready to assist with all aspects of your marketing plan. From marketing strategy, to creative design, to media placement, working with an agency increases your staff multifold. You’ve got graphic designers, digital and brand strategists, experts in all types of media placement and account executives to help keep everything on track.
With more than 50 years of combined experience in CVB marketing and media placement, Stealth Creative can help you find the best venues for marketing your community. We have staff that have worked for CVBs and have seen the challenges up close. Based on who your ideal visitor is, we can assist you in determining the best way to reach those individuals. With so many options out there, it’s important to have an expert in your corner, helping to make the most out of the limited budget you might have.
One of the CVBs we currently work with has lost several attractions over the past few years. Their focus has now turned to the local art scene, foodies who travel for the experience of eating unique cuisine, American history buffs, and individuals who want more active vacations – hiking, biking and canoeing are all great options in this area. Stealth has been able to help this CVB determine new target markets and opportunities to promote what makes their city great… and then make sure they are advertising to the travelers that are most likely to visit!
No one can be an expert in everything. But you are an expert on your community. Let Stealth be the experts in marketing your community.
As always stay tuned until the next time we go Off the Radar.
Photo Courtesy of the Joplin Convention & Visitors Bureau.