Branding campaign paying off for local tourism industry [The Brunswick News, Ga. :: ]
(Brunswick News (GA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) July 21--Scott McQuade knows that branding is a major part of any successful marketing campaign.
That's why the executive director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitor's Bureau has invested so much time and energy into developing a plan to expand awareness of the region. McQuade says the Golden Isles Branding Campaign, as it has come to be known, aims to market the area as a whole.
"Our goal was to eliminate marketing the region as individual areas and instead, refer to the area as a travel region as a whole -- The Golden Isles.
"It was the in-depth research that was conducted in 2010 that led us to this decision. That research showed that we had less than 15 percent consumer recognition in our key markets such as Atlanta," he said.
"The goal, in the end, is to have a clearly distinguishable and recognizable travel region brand that refers to a collection of assets similar to the Outer Banks, the Florida Keys, the Emerald Coast, etc."
Promoting tourism, a $1 billion industry in the area, is critical to the success of local businesses. To catch the eyes of potential tourists, the Visitor's Bureau has focused on a multi-tiered media approach targeting both Atlanta and the Southeast.
"Additionally, we have a national media buy that focuses on gaining national attention in the travel market, as well as an international focus harnessing on the state of Georgia's international efforts," McQuade said.
To gauge its success, the Visitor's Bureau utilizes a variety of tracking measures, including monitoring traffic on its website and online visitor guides.
McQuade says it didn't take long for positive figures to emerge. "Within the first year, we saw internal performance metrics increase in volume overall by over 265 percent and we saw a lodging tax increase year over year by nearly 8 percent. We saw a close repeat of these results in year-two and in year-three, lodging tax reached all-time record levels," McQuade said.
"We anticipate closing out the fiscal year of 2014 again breaking all-time lodging tax collection records and we are seeing our internal results outperform some of those of our major competitors."
The area is also outperforming national standards by about six percent, he added.
"We track national travel performance and our competitor performance closely so we can benchmark our own success and we feel we have achieved that to date. We are also very pleased to be passing out over 20,000 leads per month to our area business partners," he said.
The fast-paced success of the campaign has surprised McQuade, even though he's implemented similar programs in different areas throughout his career. But the Golden Isles Branding Campaign has garnered results at an unanticipated rate. McQuade credits that success to the community as a whole.
"It truly was amazing how much community support there was and the willingness and desire for the community to work together as a team. Perhaps one of the most important aspects of this current campaign is that the CVB did not launch this alone but rather had the support of many lodgers and area businesses to market the area cooperatively as a united front," he said.
"In addition, the whole area was represented under the new moniker Golden Isles and put an end to decade-old disputes about whose area name would be used first. To date, we are raising an additional $300,000 a year in cooperative marketing funds by partnering with our area businesses."
-- Reporter Lindsey Adkison writes about business and other local topics. Contact her at email@example.com, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 346.
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