CAPC plans 2015 marketing campaign

Friday, November 28, 2014

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotions Commission unveiled its 2015 marketing and media plan at a meeting Nov. 19.

The plan touts marketing initiatives that include expanding the city's tourism advertising reach not only in Northwest Arkansas, but statewide and throughout the Midwest and Mid-South. The plan also gives a rundown of CAPC's advertising schedule in the coming year.

CAPC Director Mike Maloney said that he will be presenting two budgets to the commission for its approval for 2015. One is static, using 2014 numbers, and the other projects a 5 percent increase in revenues.

Maloney said the CAPC's strategy will be to "reinforce ourselves in markets we already advertise to," but also to pay attention to emerging markets.

"It's important to sell what we have," he said.

Print and television

Maloney said that in 2015, CAPC will use the cooperative resources that the state provides to advertise side-by-side with the state in publications in larger markets such as Dallas and Memphis.

"We will have a bigger presence in St. Louis and Kansas City," he said.

He said the state has increased its tourism budget to $16 million this year and, as part of its cooperative program, has "opened up some publications so we can advertise with them, "when the state runs ads, we can be right next to it to emphasize Eureka Springs."

Maloney said CAPC will have a broader reach in major publications such as D Magazine in the Dallas-Forth Worth metro area, which he says reaches more than 850,000 readers. "We are projecting 27 publications of which nine are new magazines such as St. Louis Magazine, Kansas City Magazine, and Southern Living," he said.

Maloney said that in 2015, CAPC will market to a broader cable TV audience in cities like Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Kansas City, Wichita and St. Louis.

"The reach is Midwest and Mid-South," he said. "Our objective is to buy as many gross rating points as possible to gain the largest reach."

Broader Internet reach

Maloney said the results of a survey of local lodging properties to find out if they were interested in an updated online booking system, which could potentially save money for both the property owners and CAPC, were inconclusive because the response was low.

"We sent out 159 surveys and of the 34 who answered, 17 said they already have a system in place," he said.

Questions in the survey included what kind of booking system the owners use, how well it works and whether lodging owners are interested in the systems CAPC is researching. Maloney said the CAPC will publish the results and ask business owners again if CAPC should purchase an online booking system.

The CAPC has evaluated three proposals from online booking companies.

"Whether we follow through depends on the public," Maloney said.

What's different for 2015?

Maloney said CAPC's 2015 budget cuts costs from 2014 by not outsourcing website management duties. In 2014, the CAPC hired a full-time publicist, Gina Drennon, who oversees local media initiatives, writes in-depth stories and develops website content.

"In 2014, Internet costs were budgeted at $40,000 for work on the website," Maloney said. "In 2015, we budgeted $1,000. In 2014, we came under budget $25,000 by taking it on ourselves. We didn't feel the company's performance was adequate so we severed our relationship. The benefits are cost savings and more updated help to maintain the more critical tools."

Drennon will continue to work closely with 121 Digital Marketing to distribute press releases and stories to more than 5,000 media outlets worldwide, Maloney said.

Maloney said CAPC's new marketing direction "is paying off."

With Drennon's help, the CAPC hopes to increase the number of visitors to its website.

"We are always trying to include the existing market, but reach Jackson, Miss., and Dallas-Fort Worth where we know we have traffic," Maloney said.

He said CAPC is paying close attention to the demographics of visitors to the website through several means, one being Google Analytics.

"In 2012, 25 percent of CAPC Internet traffic was mobile. Two years later, 50 percent is mobile," he said.

Maloney said that with Drennon's help, the CAPC now can post to Facebook and other social media several times a day.

"Social media has the same amount of hits as the website: We have 30,000 visits per month to EurekaSprings.org and 28,000 followers on Facebook. The figures jumped 33 percent in a year," he said.

Staycations, group

travel, transit, and

weddings

Though CAPC is pressing forward with digital media initiatives, Maloney said CAPC still has its hands on the pulse of hot-button tourism topics that continue to be the focus of debate among citizens and city leaders alike.

"We are working to push weekday business and are always grooming Sunday stayovers," he said, citing this year's "every day is a weekend in Eureka Springs" campaign as an example.

Maloney said CAPC's sales department pushes weekday conventions and meetings aggressively.

"We would love to see buses pull in Tuesdays and leave Fridays," he said.

Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce Director Mike Bishop told the Citizen last week that group travel has decreased over the years and that bringing the buses back could help bolster the tourism economy.

"We do have a unified voice on group travel," Maloney said. "There is a change in the demographic in bus riders and marketers have to be aware of the types of groups we are reaching. We want the buses to come in."

Maloney said CAPC budgeted $60,000 for Group Sales in 2015.

Maloney said that when he arrived on the scene three years ago, one of the first things he did was look at the amount of marketing CAPC was doing in regional areas like Benton and Washington counties.

"I looked at the amount of marketing we were doing in the I-49 corridor and it was almost nothing," he said. "We weren't selling Eureka to markets just 40 miles away."

Maloney attributes a 75 percent decrease in trolley ridership over the past 20 years to driving habits of tourists.

"People love their cars and motorcycles and they want to be able to park," he said. "Trolley ridership may be down because people are attached to their cars. We want them using the trolley."

Maloney praised the Eureka Springs Transit System for "doing a great job of promoting itself," and said the transit system has printed new brochures for next year. He also said the CAPC meets every Tuesday with Transit and city leaders.

When asked about the wedding industry in Eureka, Maloney said, "weddings are static."

"If I were a provider, I would want more," he said.

He said that CAPC's 2015 marketing plan targets the wedding industry in magazines such as Brides. He also acknowledged that the Northwest Arkansas corridor is growing in weddings because the state realized the potential for the wedding market and is tapping into it through a retooled website with a special weddings section that "is more in-depth than ever."

Other than $5,100 to advertise in Oklahoma's Gayly magazine next year, CAPC's budget does not reflect marketing initiatives to attract LGBT visitors.

Way forward

Maloney said the CAPC will work more closely with providers to help them understand how important the hospitality economy is to Eureka Springs,

"CAPC wants to help hospitality providers understand how to better market their businesses by considering what it takes to be better at what they do and be consistent in their message," he said.

Maloney measures CAPC's success in what he calls "significant, small increases."

"Since 2011, we are up 3 to 3.5 percent over where we had been," he said.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: