Advertising & Promotion
We continued our marketing efforts in the Columbus, OH market for a second year along with targeting our brand in Southern Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Northern Virginia. In conjunction with the State of Maryland’s efforts, we also took a small step into Toronto, Canada, to design a better understanding of the potential interest in our region.
Our various websites influenced 991,850 potential visitors and event planners to discover Annapolis and the BWI region. The biggest gains were throughout our three “niche” blog sites, with increases of 40 to 131 percent visitation, followed by The Hotels at BWI with a 43 percent increase over our last fiscal year. Overall our sites had 78,345 additional session in 2017-18.
Our commitment to marketing local events that offer potential overnight stays in Annapolis and the BWI region had a good run during the period.
Here’s a snapshot of the top 6 events viewed on Visit Annapolis:
- 2017 July 4thCelebration 33,487 + 65% over previous year
- 2017 Renaissance Festival 19,183 + 77% over previous year
- 2018 Annapolis Film Festival 14,066 + 370% over previous year
- 2017 Military Bowl 12,468 + 86% over previous year
- 2017 Annapolis Crab Feast 11,561 + 36% over previous year
- 2018 Spring Sailboat Show 9,671 + 140% over previous year
The STR Reports showed a significant increase in occupancy and Rev Par during the above event periods. Other event promotions include, Nitro Circus, U.S. Sail & Power Boat Shows, Annapolis Irish Festival, NHL Stadium Series, Restaurant Week and First Sundays Arts Fest. All event cross promote The Hotels At BWI as additional hotel options.
Website Enhancements & Engagement
Website analytics showed increases in the majority of our website platforms, compared to the same period last year.
Website Analytics VisitAnnapolis.org, visitannapolis.org, MeetInAnnapolis.com, and Blog SitesVisitAnnapolis.org, visitannapolis.org, MeetInAnnapolis.com, and Blog Sites TheHotelsAtBWI.com WeddingsInAnnapolis.com Social Media
|Followers/Fans as of March 31, 2018|
The sales department confirmed 51,019 total room nights booked YTD. The number of booked groups increased by 2% to 176 total.
Industry Events: Connect Faith, Connect Marketplace Association, Cvent Elite Meetings Alliance, Destination International Destination Showcase, IMEX America Luxury Meetings Summit, NASC Sports Symposium, TEAMS 17 Conference & Expo, USSSA National Convention, Your Military Reunion Connection
Sales Activity: Annapolis Waterside Venue Meeting Planner FAM & Crab Feast, Annapolis Arts Week Meeting Planner Event, Annapolis Wednesday Night Sailboat Races Meeting Planner FAM, Annapolis/Newport Meeting Planner Luncheon - DC/VA, BWI/Arundel Mills Meeting Planner FAM, PCMA Capital Chapter Annapolis Cruise, PCMA Capital Chapter Chef’s Table, Philadelphia Meeting Planner Luncheon, VAAAC 5th Annual Military Bowl Sports Client Appreciation Event, VAAAC 6th Annual Sports Night Philadelphia Meeting Planner Luncheon
Site Visits: 9 Associations – 5 Corporate - 1 Government - 1 SMERF - 1 Tour & Travel (17 Total)
Group Sales Assists: 46 Conferences - 6 CRUSA – 13 Reunion – 3 Sports – 11 Tour and Travel 25 Weddings 25 (104 Total)
Quarterly Booking Comparison - 2017 vs. 2018
|YTD FY 17||YTD FY 18|
Public Relations & Communications
More time spent on the road with media outreach resulted in fewer in-house media assists in FY 2018. Participation in Capital Region USA’s media mission to France, planning and execution of desk-side media visits in Toronto, and meetings with dozens of journalists at Travel Media Showcase and the Mid-Atlantic Tourism PR Alliance’s (MATPRA) Media Marketplace went a long way toward generating a more diverse audience of journalists who are interested in promoting the destination.
The recently implemented changes dictate a corresponding need to modify the criteria used to measure the success of the PR and Communications Department’s outreach efforts in the years ahead. FY 2018 year-end results reflect the transition that’s underway.
- FY 2018 PR and Communications Department outreach efforts resulted in 2,500 print, broadcast and online stories and mentions by domestic and international media outlets.
- Total potential reach for FY 2018 was 4.2 billion, compared to 4.5 billion in FY 2017.
- Total publicity value for FY 2018 was $4.44 million, compared to $3.41 million in FY 2017, an increase of 30%.
- VAAAC hosted 18 domestic and international journalists on press trips in FY 2018. This compares to 72 journalists in FY 2017. *IPW FAM
- In addition to press trips, VAAAC provided 110 media assists in FY 2018.
As the county’s DMO, our mission is to engage with and connect visitors with our industry partners. In the second half of the fiscal year 2018, a new partnership plan was in the development stage to help facilitate this engagement and allows our current list of 629 partners a more direct and cost-effective option.
Starting in FY 2019, this new program is designed to allow County Partners direct there business and brand through our five website and App options, our printed and digital Visitors Guide, Visitors Center representation via brochures and TV monitor ads and partnering on sales missions and tradeshows throughout the year. Partners will now pick and choose their marketing options through a la carte type of system where businesses can invest their marketing dollars in a way that works for their needs and budget. Deepening the relationships with the community is critical to promoting the destination and encouraging visitation, and we are certain this new program will get more businesses to engage with VAAAC and want to take advantage of our targeted and captive marketing efforts.
|Visitor Center/ City Dock Booth/ Ambassadors Visitor Count|
Visitor Services welcomed a new Director to the department in the last 2 quarters of FY 18. Over the past six months, the scope of Volunteer training was expanded to include more quality educational opportunities and Partner engagements. Moreover, Visitor Services has seen a 97% Volunteer retention rate from the previous year. In the last 4 months of the fiscal year we gained 12 new Volunteers, making a total of 116, up 21% over last year.
The Visitor Center enjoyed some notable changes as well. In keeping with our pledge to operate a cleaner, greener facility, we collaborated with “Annapolis Green” during National Tourism week to help promote Annapolis as a “Green” destination. The week kicked-off with the installation of a new water bottle refill station in the Visitor Center and a new sculpture titled “Blue Heron” behind the Visitor Center in our rain garden. Made entirely of repurposed metal, it stands as the first impression of our green commitment to Visitors.
The original 1720 wood floors in the Visitor Center were refinished in the last quarter of the fiscal year. As much a receptacle for Visitor Information as a piece of Annapolis history, the Visitor Center had 28,769 pairs of feet walk over the newly restored floor since it’s unveiling.
Finally, a cost-saving and eye-catching change was made to our Visitor Guide mailings. Clear envelopes replaced expensive manila ones, saving the organization 35% and makes a welcome first impression in the consumer’s daily delivery.