CVB reports to the community.
Editors note: This is the first in a five-part series of articles reporting on the joint meeting held between different organizations which promote and provide services for the area.
Matt Bell and the Convention Visitors Bureau hosted a conference between city entities that promote Harrison and ... our way of life.
As the director of the CVB, Bell welcomed the crowd and entitled his power point, “The Power of Progress.”
He told the group with 2016 being the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service, they will work closely with the park service and revive the slogan, “Gateway to the Buffalo River,” in their marketing materials.
“The gateway is back,” he said
Bell reported on the 2015 goals which were to:
• increase overnight stays;
• develop local tourists;
• grow marketing.
“Those were our goals,” Bell said. “We were down four percent on overnight stays, but the restaurant tax collection was up.”
“So I think we had more day trippers because there was $250,000 more food sold,” he said.
He said the partnership with Parks and Rec and building the new softball field for $25,000 would pay off in one years time.
Bell discussed the fact that requests for guide distribution were down 39 percent in the markets they’ve been advertising.
“This could be that we’ve saturated those markets, and we need to find new ones,” Bell said.
The CVB is able to target specific market audiences with their social media advertising and is very cost effective.
He discussed the key changes the CVB made in 2015 which included a mobile-friendly website; greater online marketing efforts with an increase to the budget for Facebook by $4,000; and a decrease in print media by $10,000.
The plans for the next step of success is to increase and target specific markets on social media.
“We probably need to aim for Dallas and Chicago for our print diversification,” he said.
The CVB budgets $60,000 a year to attract tourist development. This year the money funded the new softball field and improvements at the Lyric Theater. Both of these projects bring people into town, he said.
Bell said the next project they want to participate in is the MakerSpace with the Boone County Museum.
“This is a community center space with hands-on tools. A fabrication lab, tech shop, programs to write code — all to stimulate innovation and a place to be creative,” he said. “Not only will this bring in out-of-town families, but be a place for area schools to take field trips, host summer camps and be like a science center.”
The question was asked, “What is your target audience for most of your advertising?”
Bell answered, “We are targeting professionals who are 35 years and older who are outdoor enthusiasts.”
Other questions asked were about the possibility of mountain bike trails, motocross sports and trails for Jeeps.
Another asked, “Why aren’t there more kid activities planned?” Another suggested families should be the target audience for 2016.
The question was asked about how far out of Harrison can the CVB spend money to market?
Bell said, “We do a good job marketing outside of Harrison. Everyone benefits, but we have to make sure it will benefit the businesses of Harrison.”
Some of the ideas tossed around in the room included more attractions, additional motor sports activities, walking trails, expanding the Museum and Baker Prairie activities.
The question was asked, “What do long range plans look like?”
Bell said he could foresee more technology-related activities to blend the history and modern aspects of the community and possibly something like a Buffalo River Education Center.
Another idea was suggested to market to veterans, and bring back the Marine Museum.
Then the discussion followed about access to the Buffalo River and expanding the concessions available with the park service.
For more information about the CVB call (870) 741-1789 or visit 200 W. Stephenson Ave.