The Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau‘s new marketing plan for 2016 prioritizes building relationships with hoteliers, telling a story and making Southern Indiana an essential part of the Louisville experience.
“We are still not happy completely with where we are versus where we want to be,” said Jim Epperson, the CTB’s executive director.
After Epperson started at the CTB in late 2013, the bureau began collecting data that it could use to evaluate its performance such as unique website views, the number of motorcoach tours that make day or overnight trips to Southern Indiana, and hotel room nights.
“We are trying to get more and more quantitative, both looking forward and measuring what we are doing (now),” Epperson said. “That is something that takes time.”
The main objective of the 2016 marketing plan is to advertise attractions, shops and restaurants in Southern Indiana as places that people must visit when they come to Louisville.
The CTB does that, Epperson said, by continuing its advertising campaign, which focuses on business owners and interesting people that visitors may meet while in Clark or Floyd counties. He gave the example of Alan Goldstein, a naturalist with the Falls of the Ohio State Park, who is shown in this video talking about the park’s unique fossil beds.
“That is the kind of approach that cuts through so much clutter,” he said.
With the Kentucky International Convention Center closing for renovations next summer, Epperson said the CTB will need to work more closely with hotel operators in Southern Indiana to help draw business.
Typically, Southern Indiana benefits from spill over when downtown hotels fill up with conventioneers, but the tourism bureau is expecting less spillover during KICC’s two year closure.
“We really won’t know what the impact was until it’s over,” Epperson said. But “we do expect (room nights) to be down.”
The tourism bureau has slowly been working on its relationship with Southern Indiana hotels, which have tended to communicate more with the larger Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau, he said. The CTB would like to use information provided by the hotels to get a better picture of who is staying in Southern Indiana.
In 2016, the bureau also is looking into creating a culinary trail for visitors to follow — an idea that came from Ted and Dana Huber, the owners of Huber’s Orchard & Winery.
Southern Indiana has a winery and distillery at Huber’s and six microbreweries as well as “really neat, unique, independently owned restaurants,” Epperson said, adding that a culinary trail would dovetail with Louisville’s bourbonism and growing reputation as a foodie city.
Another priority for 2016 is conducting website usability research and finding a website designer to create a brand new site.
The CTB launched its current website a month before Epperson started, but the bureau would like to add new features including themed itineraries and a group tour planner.
“It’s going to be cheaper in the long run to start from scratch,” he said.
Other priorities include:
- Selecting a vendor to plan improvements to the visitors center and look into adding satellite locations and/or a mobile visitors center.
- Increasing social media content shares by 20 percent.
- Coordinating 550 motorcoach day trips.
- Forming a community advisory committee to work toward growing the number of travel sports events in Southern Indiana.
- Continuing to build email marketing lists.