2015-2016 Annual Report: Marketing

Beginning in July 2015 and continuing through the fiscal year, transitioned all of the CVB’s official destination marketing materials to the tuned-up destination brand strategy for Raleigh/Wake County, which had been fully researched and rearticulated during 2014-2015. The strategic launch included deployment of a Raleigh, N.C., Brand Kit at www.raleighncbrand.com, a new About Raleigh, N.C., section on visitRaleigh.com and a new, official destination video (debuting March 2016).

visitRaleigh the e-magazineVISITRALEIGH THE E-MAGAZINE
Completed a redesign and transformation of the Bureau’s Events Watch consumer e-newsletter into visitRaleigh the E-magazine as of Feb. 2016; the redesign allowed GRCVB to better execute the tuned-up destination brand strategy with potential and past visitors, by showcasing area tourism content beyond simply event listings.

With the Bureau’s new creative and media services agency (French/West/Vaughan), designed all-new advertising creative assets and deployed a robust, yearlong ad plan with leisure visitor, local/visiting-friends-and-relatives, meeting group and sports event-planning markets, resulting in new brand impressions and customer conversions.

visitRaleigh.com updatesWEBSITE UPDATES
Attracted 2.21 million sessions to the official tourism websites in 2015-2016. Promoting the destination's commitment to inclusion, diversity and equality as part of the regional “All Are Welcome Here” positive message campaign, GRCVB launched the webpage Raleighwelcomes.com. In consultation with its Live Music Advisory Committee, GRCVB continued promotions of its comprehensive Raleigh area live music calendar, themostnc.com; the calendar website, powered by event data and content from visitRaleigh.com, attracted 85,056 sessions in 2015-2016.

2015-2016 Editorial CalendarTOURISM PROMOTIONAL CALENDAR
Continued to plan tourism marketing activations according to a promotional calendar, with stretches of three to four months each devoted to communicating a specific key messaging-defining destination themeline, plus several campaigns throughout the fiscal year. One highlight was the April 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 continued 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.

Through constant social media marketing activity on platforms in accordance with yearlong strategies, GRCVB accomplished the following in 2015-2016: Reached 41,659 total Likes for visitRaleigh on Facebook and garnered a total of 77,890 post engagements; reached 36,891 total followers of visitRaleigh on Twitter and garnered 45,031 total engagements; and with a larger focus on Instagram, increased following on the platform by 323 percent, reaching 6,445 followers and garnering 28,092 engagements. GRCVB also launched its #visitRaleigh destination hashtag campaign, encouraging and influencing visitors, residents (especially local influencers on social media) and hospitality partners to use the hashtag whenever sharing positive, intriguing content and stories about the destination on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. The campaign has resulted in a constant, steady flow of shared photos, which GRCVB can re-share on its own platforms. The Bureau grows its social media audience on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to engage past, present and future Raleigh visitors, driving more interest, preference and demand for the area and its destination brand.

Raleigh Beer TrailCOMMITTEE WORK
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. In Sept. 2015, shifted to facilitating monthly meetings with Wake County’s Cultural Presenters Forum, which itself programmed two 2015-2016 series/campaigns for residents and visitors, Artify: The Arts in Parks and Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh. In April 2016, the Beer Summit committee debuted the Raleigh Beer Trail, with fulfillment coordinated by GRCVB on behalf of area breweries.

Resulting from the GRCVB Live Music Advisory Committee’s advocacy, City of Raleigh launched a four-month Musician Loading Zones pilot parking program in Jan. 2016 (at The Pour House Music Hall, Lincoln Theatre, KINGS and Slim’s Downtown). The downtown Raleigh pilot program (since extended) is providing performers with a reserved area to unload and load equipment in front of each venue from 5pm-3am. This not only made our area a more welcoming place for out-of-town musicians but also will help its long-term positioning as a live music visitor destination.

Renewed relationship with 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. Printed 180,000 Visitors Guides in April 2016, for yearlong distribution in conjunction with GRCVB’s Services Department, and offered the new guide digitally at raleighvisitorsguide.com.

Effective Nov. 1, 2015, Jessica Holt, CHIA, was promoted from marketing coordinator to the role of assistant marketing manager; effective Jan. 19, Michael Robson was promoted from GRSA’s coordinator to the new role of content marketing manager. Also in Jan. 2016, senior marketing manager Derek Allman earned his Certification in Hotel Industry Analytics, offered by the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute and STR.