2014-2015 Annual Report: Marketing
DESTINATION BRAND TUNE-UP
Reassessed, alongside seasoned consultant Development Counsellors International, the destination brand strategy that had been in place since 2008, created a new destination brand strategy manual and took ownership of a brand blueprint that outlines destination marketing strategy for the next five years and beyond. (The Bureau transitions to the tuned-up brand strategy in July and Aug. 2015.)
Deployed a robust, yearlong advertising plan with leisure visitor, meeting group and sports event-planning markets, resulting in brand impressions and customer conversions. Won a Destination Marketing Achievement Award for advertising from the Destination Marketing Association of N.C. for a series of ads in Meeting Professionals International's One+ magazine. Elected to partner with Destination Travel Network to sell advertising opportunities on visitRaleigh.com and visitRaleigh.mobi for the first time to interested area hospitality partners. Issued a request for advertising and design services in Jan. 2015 then selected Raleigh-based French/West/Vaughan as the Bureau's new creative and media services agency for 2015-2016.
Attracted 1.74 million visits to the official tourism websites in 2014-2015. In consultation with its Live Music Advisory Committee, GRCVB launched a comprehensive Raleigh area live music calendar, themostnc.com, in Jan. 2015; the calendar website, powered by event data and content from visitRaleigh.com, attracted 20,692 visits between Jan. and June 2015 and received an outstanding review from destination marketing guru Bill Geist. The visitRaleigh.mobi official tourism mobile site, which was redesigned in Early 2014, won the Mobile Standard of Excellence in the Web Marketing Association's Oct. 2014 WebAward Competition for website development.
Continued to plan tourism marketing activations according to a promotional calendar, with each month devoted to a Destination I.D. and major event or thing to do in the area. One highlight was the successful, summer-long "Music Mania" leisure tourism campaign; another was the Apr. Greater Raleigh Beer Month campaign, complementing Visit North Carolina's N.C. Beer Month campaign and promoting the area's burgeoning craft beer scene and related major events. The Bureau also initiated ongoing strategies and tactics to increase visitor awareness of the N.C. Department of Transportation's Fortify I-40/440 Improvement Project, so visitors can better plan driving routes ahead of time and avoid traffic snarls in Raleigh.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Reached 28,149 total likes for visitRaleigh on Facebook and 27,329 total followers of visitRaleigh on Twitter, through constant social media marketing activity on both platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies. The Bureau grows its audience on both in order to engage past, present and future Raleigh visitors, driving more interest, preference and demand for the area and its destination brand.
Continued to host and/or participate in quarterly meetings with several industry advisory committees, such as the Raleigh Heritage Trail and Wake County Beer Summit. Received a Best Practices Award for Destination Stakeholder Relations from the Destination Marketing Association of N.C. for forming and coordinating the Bureau's Live Music Advisory Committee. The GRCVB-coordinated Cultural Presenters Forum spawned another organizing committee in 2014-2015, which collaboratively programmed Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh.
Expanded the promotion of signature experiences with visitors of all types in 2015, developing a Things to Do webpage that showcases a curated collection of personal tours and hands-on encounters in Raleigh. There are two types of experiences: ones offered by established businesses in the Raleigh area (traditional industry partners of GRCVB) and ones offered by individuals (through People-First Tourism).
VISITOR PROFILE AND ECONOMIC IMPACT RESEARCH
Completed a study in June 2015 with Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company, resulting in a report on the total economic impact of tourism in Raleigh/Wake County during 2014. Calculated that visitors to Raleigh spent $2.2 billion in 2014, which generated $3.4 billion in total business sales, including indirect and induced impacts-among other findings. Also fully updated biennial profile research on Raleigh/Wake County visitors with D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd.
OFFICIAL VISITORS GUIDES
Printed 180,000 Official Visitors Guides, distributed them year-round in conjunction with GRCVB's Services Department and offered the guide digitally at raleighvisitorsguide.com. Selected Compass Media as 2015-2016 custom publisher to carry out advertising sales, production, printing and shipping for the new Official Visitors Guide to Raleigh, Cary and Wake County, which was released in May 2015.
Earned industry recognitions for Marketing Department staffers including director of marketing Jonathan Freeze, who received the Destination Marketing Association International's (DMAI's) Certified Destination Management Executive (CDME) designation, the CVB industry's highest educational achievement. Also during the fiscal year, both assistant marketing manager Mary Brooks and senior marketing manager Derek Allman were recognized as two of DMAI's "30 Under 30" future leaders. In 2015, marketing coordinator Jessica Holt and director of marketing Jonathan Freeze, CDME, earned their Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics (CHIA), offered by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and STR.