April 2017 Tourism Council Meeting

Woodstock Cafe
117 S. Main St.
Woodstock, Virginia 22664

Members Present:  Bobe Luce, Katie Mercer, Nadini Patel, Coe Sherrard, Dan Harshman, Bill Schumacher, Michelle Bixler

Media Present:  None

Guests Present:  Melissa Price, Jessica Sager, Morgan Brill, Amber Dennison, and Ankit Mehta.

Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order by Coe at noon and a quorum was established.

Approval of Minutes:  Dan made a motion to approve the December minutes as presented, Bob seconded the motion and all approved.

Financial Report: 

Ms. French presented the financial report through March 31, 2017 and pointed out the following:

  • Line 3180, Contractual Services-  Ms. French cited that the total of $892.50 included $205 for monthly brochure distribution with FPIS and $687.80 for a regional project through SVTP to advertise with the Orlando Sentinel in May coinciding with the launch of direct flights from Orlando to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.
  • 3500, Printing-  $1990 was for the reprint of 20,000 more Shenandoah Spirits Trail Maps
  • 3600, Advertising-  included $3000 for a full page ad in Blue RIdge Outdoors which was a remnant ad we purchased for a great deal.  $350 was for a blue ridge parkway guide ad, $375 for a co-op ad with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields association in Civil War Traveler, $3850 for our CRUSA ad renewal and $2500 for an ad in Virginia Living.
  • There were no further questions.

Katie Mercer made a motion to approve the financial report as presented and Dan Harshman seconded the motion.  All approved.

Director’s Report:

Ms. French presented the Director’s Report highlighting that the Google Analytics for March indicate that 21% of our traffic came from ages 25-34, 21% ages 35-44 and 20% ages 55-64.  This indicates that we are attracting younger visitors than survey results indicated a year ago when the majority of our visitors were ages 55+.    In addition, we continue to see traffic as a result of our CRUSA ads in Germany, UK, Australia, Brazil and China.  Top states in March included Virginia, Washington, D.C., Indiana, California and Maryland followed by Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida and New Jersey.  Ms. French attributed the spike in states outside the mid-Atlantic in part because of recent advertising with Trip Advisor, Roots Rated and Southern Living which reach outside the mid-Atlantic.

Top ad campaigns for the month included:  Washington Post, Trip Advisor, Roots Rated and Virginia.org

Top pages views on our website were the home page, a recent blog post from Roots Rated titled Is Shenandoah County the Most Adventure Filled Place in Virginia?, the accommodations page, additional blog posts by Roots Rated titled What to See Eat and Do According to the Locals, and 10 Reasons why Shenandoah County is an Awesome Place for Outdoor Lovers, and 8 Ways to Extend Your Trip to Shenandoah National Park followed by Scenic Drives

Ms. French also shared that we received nearly 700 leads from Southern Living during the month of March. 

Old Business:   

Ms. French informed Council that the Shenandoah Valley Tourism Partnership (SVTP, formerly referred to as the DMO Group) will be holding a launch event on May 24 at 10am at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.  All of Tourism Council and local tourism partners are welcome to attend.  Invitations will be sent out in the near future via email.  In addition, SVTP is also advertising with the Orlando Sentinel to promote the Shenandoah Valley as a destination along with direct flights by Via Air to the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.  We also hosted a Canadian Radio Show called Zoomer Radio where they visited American Celebration on Parade for an interview with Willie Meadows.  In addition to the radio interview, they also shared their video footage on Youtube and other social media outlets.  Finally, Brenda Black of Harrisonburg will be representing SVTP at International PowWow (IPW) in June.  IPW is an opportunity to meet travel writers, tour operators and other people in the travel industry from around the world.  We will also be hosting pre and post FAM tours for IPW thanks to our involvement.

Ms. French shared that things are moving along to produce a brochure highlighting the WWI and WWII sites in the county.  She also shared that Heritage Day was a great success with approximately 300 people in attendance.  Folks from the state World Wars Commission commented that some of the artifacts and memorabilia that people brought to be scanned was some of the most priceless pieces they have seen since the commemoration began in December 2016.

Ms. French provided an update on the FY18 proposed budget stating that so far the Tourism Budget is still fully intact and that none of our requests have been cut to date including the CIP request for a vehicle.

Ms. French mentioned that they cancelled the Fields of Gold Meet & Greet that was scheduled for late March since the previous director resigned because she was moving out of the area.  Ms. French stated that they will be rescheduling the event once a new director is hired.

Finally, Ms French reminded people that Gardens Galleries & Grapes is scheduled for April 22-23

New Business

Ms. French asked Council for their opinion on whether or not to try to do something around National Tourism Week this year.  There was previous discussion about offering discounts to locals to visit area attractions but Council voted to postpone plans until 2018 due to lack of time to properly plan something for this May.

Ms. French informed Council that she and the rest of the founding members of the Shenandoah Spirits Trail are considering expanding the trail to include Warren, Clarke and Page Counties.  This stems from several inquiries from the other localities wondering if and how they could join.  The original group is also looking at updating the website and printed materials and applying for two upcoming grants so the timing made sense to explore the possibilities.  No formal arrangements have been made at this time.  Ms. French asked Council if they had strong feelings one way or othe other.  Ms. Price shared that that expanding presents a good opportunity to expand and advertise in other areas and many agreed.

Ms. French shared that they will be hosting a FAM tour of AAA operators in partnership with Blue Ridge Parkway Association April 24.  The FAM will be stopping at American Celebration on Parade for lunch followed by a tour of the Caverns.  Although timing doesn’t permit them to visit other locations within the county, Ms. French will share brochures and additional information with the operators upon their arrival and asked for materials to include in goody bags.

Ms. French also shared that a writer by the name of Joe Tennis will be visiting the county April 27-28.   He will be writing a story for Coastal Virginia Magazine but also writers for Life Outside Magazine and Blue Ridge Country.  Mr. Tennis will be staying at River Bluff Bed & Breakfast, dining at the Woodstock Cafe, and visiting Muse Vineyards, Third Hill Winery, the Woodstock Tower, Meems Bottom Bridge, Route 11 Chips, and Shenandoah Caverns during his stay.  Although Ms. French is unable to meet him for dinner because of another meeting conflict, she will be meeting him for a drink at the Woodstock Brewhouse following his dinner and her meeting.  Coe Sherrard suggested that if someone was available to meet Mr. Tennis for dinner, he would be happy to host them both.

Finally, Ms. French indicated that she will be out of town for Marketing College through the Southeast Tourism Society at the time of the regularly scheduled May Tourism Council meeting.  After some discussion on whether or not to reschedule or cancel the meeting, Coe Sherrard made a motion to cancel the May meeting and reconvene in June.  Katie Mercer seconded the motion and all approved.

Announcements:  Council went around the table providing updates on each industry and town.

 Adjournment: 

Having no further business to discuss, the Shenandoah County Tourism Council adjourned at 12:55 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Kary Haun,

PR & Marketing Assistant, Shenandoah County Tourism