Quarterly Report Part 2: Marketing Report for October-December 2010

Tracking for the 2010 leisure campaign and planning for the 2011 leisure campaign was a major focus of the marketing department during the second quarter of FY 2010-11.  The 2010 campaign directed visitors to www.VacationSpringfield.com to request a Passport to Family Fun. Nearly 23,000 people visited the website to request the coupon books.  In addition, another 75,000 passports were distributed in the three information centers and at conventions and sporting events.

Significant cuts to the Missouri Division of Tourism’s budget resulted in cuts to the Cooperative Marketing Program for FY11.  The Bureau was notified in June the program was cut by 25 percent, resulting in a $135,000 reduction from the $580,000 that was requested for the year.  Although only $445,000 will be received from the State of Missouri for FY11, the bureau was able to maintain full marketing levels with its partners.  The total campaign budget will be $1,030,000, down $10,000 from the original $1,040,000 planned for the leisure campaign.  Partners for the FY11 campaign will include:  Bass Pro Shops, Wonders of Wildlife, Fantastic Caverns, Springfield Cardinals, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield.  The Battlefield is a new partner for FY11 to promote the Wilson’s Creek Sesquicentennial Reenactment planned for August 2011.  The bureau was notified in December that funding for the FY12 leisure campaign has been further reduced to $400,000, down $45,000 from the reduced FY11 budgets.  Further cuts could take effect following the 2011 legislative session.

The bureau worked with Jerry Henry & Associates to complete the FY10 Conversion Study.  This study is not only used to direct marketing initiatives at the bureau but is also sent to the Missouri Division of Tourism in a Project Summary Report that outlines the effectiveness of campaigns funded through the Missouri Division of Tourism’s Cooperative Marketing Program. The study estimated total revenue generated by the campaign at $26 million, up $3 million from 2009 and an all-time record for the Bureau. The study also indicated that more than 75% of all visitors recalled seeing/hearing/reading Springfield advertisements and more than six in ten of those said it made them more likely to visit.  In addition, the bureau worked with Jerry Henry to conduct visitor surveys to complete the 2010 Visitor Profile Study.  That study will be released early in the third quarter.

The marketing department continues to maintain the existing bureau website while working with MMG Worldwide to develop a new website, set to launch in the third quarter of FY11.  The bureau has partnered with Texas A&M to conduct an online survey to get visitor feedback on the current website.  The results of this survey will guide much of the creative and functional elements of the new site.  A follow-up survey will be conducted to those website visitors to find out if they visited and how helpful the site was in planning their trip.  MMG Worldwide, based in Kansas City, is currently working on the creative design and functional mapping of the new site in partnership with SMI, the company who designed the bureau’s new D3000 software.  The marketing department also will maintain the new site when it launches and Texas A&M will provide another survey on the new site to get additional feedback from site users.  The pre- and post-surveys will give a good benchmark to rate the effectiveness of the new site compared to the current site.  A greater emphasis will continue to be placed on online and digital marketing within future media and marketing plans.

Although the majority of paid media is placed in the spring, the bureau placed convention advertising for Springfield in The Executive Focus and leisure advertising in Show-Me Missouri during the second quarter.

In addition to paid media placements, ongoing public relations efforts and various promotions are utilized to maintain Springfield’s presence with potential meeting/event planners and leisure visitors throughout the year.  The bureau’s public relations efforts generated 20 stories or broadcasts in regional, national and Internet media with an advertising equivalency value of $5,753 during the second quarter.  Noteworthy media placements included: Chicago Tribune, Missouri Meetings & Events, Sports Events Magazine and SmartMeetings.com.

As a result of bureau advertising and public relations efforts during the second quarter, 4,718 tourist information packets were mailed to people requesting information.  In addition, 77,499 visitors logged on to the bureau’s websites.

Other marketing and public relations activities during the second quarter included:

  • working with cooperative marketing partners to develop new media plans and creative strategies for the FY11 leisure campaign;
  • placing media advertising for leisure and convention marketing and distributing new creative to media outlets;
  • preparing and submitting first quarter reimbursement documents to the Missouri Division of Tourism for the FY10 Cooperative Marketing Campaign and participating in the MDT Media Exchange to ensure all CVBs are paying equal amounts for advertising in specific publications;
  • working on a social media plan and increasing Springfield’s Internet presence through social networking sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Photobucket and others;
  • producing the 2011 Visitors Guide;
  • selling advertising in the Passport to Family Fun, Online Hotel Coupons, and 2011/2012 Travel Guide; and continuing sales of website links, virtual tours and display advertising; transparency and kiosk advertising in the information centers, Springfield-Branson National Airport, and at the Expo Center; selling brochure insertions in the bureau’s fulfillment packets; and selling memberships in the bureau’s Area Marketing Partnership Program;
  • publishing the bureau’s Issues & Info blog and the Greater Springfield Area Sports Commission newsletter;
  • writing and organizing the bureau’s website e-promotions and conducting a special e-mail promotion to encourage incremental travel to Springfield during the holidays;
  • conducting a press tour for Jerre Repasse with the NPR affiliate at the University of Arkansas;
  • distributing 12 press releases and generating 3 local stories or broadcasts on bureau and city activities;
  • providing information to 30 journalists for the purpose of generating positive media editorial coverage for Springfield as a destination;
  • hosting a meeting of the Public Relations Advisory Committee;
  • securing sponsorships and planning the Salute to Travel & Tourism Awards Banquet on Thursday, February 17, at University Plaza Hotel;
  • hosting a Travel Connections Mixer for advertisers and marketing partners;
  • creating marketing pieces and advertising for the group sales department;
  • distributing the monthly Calendar of Events to media and constituents;
  • hosting meetings of the Springfield Attractions Council;
  • promoting the Springfield mobile application for iPhones, BlackBerrys, Androids and other web-enabled mobile devices;
  • attending meetings of the Public Relations Society of America, City Public Relations Committee, Bass Pro Shops Fitness Festival planning committee and marketing subcommittee, Leisure Advertising Cooperative Marketing Partners, Springfield Hotel-Motel Association, Springfield Attractions Council, Sales Awareness Committee, area Chambers of Commerce, Relay For Life Planning Committee, and Missouri Travel Council Board.

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Laura Whisler is the Vice President for the Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau

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