Anderson/Madison County Visitors Blog
To borrow a phrase from Frank Sinatra, it was a very good year. Now what do we do for an encore?
In 2014 The Visitors Bureau added to its marketing tool box with the use of visual arts. A series of videos, developed by Brian Wrasman and his team at CrossPointe Studios (the creators of VisitAndersonMadisonCounty.com) helped the Bureau promote Madison County to leisure travelers, motor coach operators, and local residents. The videos were featured on VisitAndersonMadisonCounty.com and in social media.
In addition to the videos, the Bureau joined with the Herald Bulletin to produce a new magazine that focuses on Madison County entertainment, events, and tourism. Known as Discover, the magazine was produced in the spring (featuring Anderson Speedway and the Little 500), summer (featuring Indianapolis Colts Training Camp), and the fall (featuring Mounds State Park).
Finally, the Inspire Award was launched in 2014. A partnership of the Bureau and WQME, the Herald Bulletin, Ricker’s, and We Are Madison County, the Inspire recognizes excellence in customer service throughout Madison County. The award will be presented to four winners each May and November.
The results of these efforts were staggering. Percentage of hotel occupancy rose three percent, the average daily rate charged at local hotels was up, and the Bureau’s web site had an incredible 2.3 million page views (up over 600,000 from the great number registered in 2013). Add it all together and the Visitors Bureau had a record breaking year with over $560,000 in innkeeper’s tax receipts collected.
Let me do a quick explanation on what I mean by innkeeper’s tax receipts collected. The Visitors Bureau was created by a state law. The statute states that there is a 5% tax charged on all hotel, campsite, and bed and breakfast stays and those tax receipts then go to the Bureau to help further promote tourism.
According to an economic impact study by Rockport Analytics in Pennsylvania, that $560,000 was invested wisely as $142 million in visitor spending took place in Madison County in 2013. Think about that for a moment. Hotel, campsite, and bed and breakfast guests—made up largely of people from outside the area—paid a 5% tax that amounted to $560,000, which was then turned into $142 million in visitor spending that stayed in our local economy. Wow! That’s a great investment!
Our hotels in Madison County are sold out on many weekends, especially during the spring, summer, and fall. Why is that? People are coming to Madison County to have fun. We have a major entertainment center—Hoosier Park—just a couple of blocks from most of the hotels in the area. Anderson Speedway helps fill up the hotels with race fans and teams. White River Zip Lines brings people to the area. When you add in Anderson University, the Paramount, Gaither Music Company, Mounds State Park, Indianapolis Colts Training Camp, our unique dining options, all the festivals and events that take place in the county, and more, you quickly realize that Madison County is a great weekend getaway.
There are many examples I can share with you about people coming to Madison County for pleasure. My wife, Jessica, and I were at a concert in Indianapolis and the guy sitting next to us started to talk to us before the concert began. He was from Greenwood and when he heard we were from Anderson he told us that he and his wife go to every Hoosier Park summer concert and they spend the whole weekend in town because there are so many fun things to do. Last summer I was at White River Zip Lines and the group that was preparing to go next was made up of five people, two of whom were from Dayton, Ohio, two from Lafayette, and one from Indianapolis. They were in town for some weekend fun.
Like I noted at the beginning, it was a very good year. What about that encore? How will we keep the momentum going?
In 2015 the Visitors Bureau will expand on its success with VisitAndersonMadisonCounty.com by refreshing its look and features, and adding new elements to enhance the user experience. The refreshed and redesigned web site was launched February 12 and has proven to be popular with the thousands of daily visitors to the site. A new mobile version was also added to help streamline that experience without sacrificing many of the bells and whistles the desktop version offers.
A new feature on the web site in 2015 will be weather reports from Indiana’s favorite weatherman, Paul Poteet. Paul will present a weekly video forecast specific to Madison County that will allow people the chance to see how the weather may impact their plans for Madison County fun. In addition, the Discover magazine can now be read on the desktop version of the site.
People are having fun and staying in Madison County and it is having a huge impact on our local economy. Don’t forget, when you are looking for something to do, the Visitors Bureau—whether you visit us in person or via the web—is your best source, because the fun starts here!
News, notes, and thoughts—Congratulations to Heather Bremer and Dale Pickett for winning the Bureau’s top awards at our luncheon in February. Heather, who works at the Herald Bulletin, was honored with the President’s Award for her outstanding success with the Discover magazine. Heather writes, designs, and edits the magazine. She basically does everything but prints it, and could probably do that too, if needed! Dale won the Outstanding Volunteer Award for his efforts with photography in Madison County. He has produced outstanding images for the Bureau that allows us to promote Madison County visually. He is a pro’s pro…The good news for tourism in Madison County continues as it has been announced that a Fairfield Inn will be built in Anderson…Kudos to Kyle Morey and the Madison County Chamber for their annual awards dinner in February. They had a record turnout…It isn’t official yet, but the Hoosier Park summer concert series is shaping up to be a good one. Watch for details soon…Looking forward to another Colts Camp this summer at Anderson University.
--Tom Bannon is executive director of the Anderson/Madison County Visitors Bureau