Yes, we’re the local destination marketing team, and both direct sales and public relations are daily components of our business. Each day our jobs are to sell the area, through personal engagements at our welcome centers, exhibits, trade shows, online engagement, and sales calls.
With $22 million invested in the largest convention center resort complex in the Midwest, along with unique and varying venues, we’ve had new opportunities in sales. Aggressive efforts by our LES&I sales team helped generate over 40,000 rooms nights in our fiscal year ending September 30; a 38% increase over the previous year.
Our region’s hospitality sales teams work with us to collaborate - not compete; partnering on sales missions, trade shows, meeting-focused advertising, and editorial.
We even have an award-winning sales piece RETHINK used by all area properties to sell our destination - not individual properties. Spending less by sharing costs and cross-selling as the destination, our messages go further to meeting professionals, family reunion and sporting event organizers, wedding planners, military groups, etc. And these sales efforts continue all year long - as many hospitality jobs also do now.
We continuously evaluate marketing’s return on investment, and I’d like to cite the Public Relations BARGAIN! After 27 years in my job, I still get excited to hear new visitors gasp “Am I REALLY in Ohio?” The saying “seeing is believing” works here. By hosting bloggers and travel editors in our area, they become SOLD on our destination and deliver that credible message to their huge audiences.
Nearly 500 articles were generated in online and traditional media, in the likes of National Geographic Travel, USA Today, Budget Travel, Fodor’s, and Travel & Leisure; with nearly 145 million impressions in the last year.
I met with Midwest Living’s Travel Editor last November, and this summer she spent a week exploring our region to write a summer 2014 five-page feature on Lake Erie Shores & Islands; valued at $1 million in publicity. Less direct advertising dollars invested in public relations delivers more impact, since consumers overwhelmingly trust editorial over advertising.
People often ask me, after all these years, “Aren’t you bored with your job?”.
My response: “Think of the evolution of marketing and our destination overall; I think I’m pretty darn lucky!”.