Maggie tourism groups merge marketing funds

By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Mar 31, 2014
The Haywood County Hotel & Motel Association is ‘recruiting’ active duty and retired military and their families to come visit and enjoy Haywood County.  President Carol Burrell and Executive Director Marion Hamel attended Travel shows at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC and Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, SC.

While several Maggie Valley organizations have all competed for the same tourism dollars in the past, they will be working together this year to make that money go further.

In a press release from imountain.net, a marketing and design company, Michael Meissner said all the major tourism players in Maggie Valley would be combining their resources this year.

"When it comes to politics in Maggie Valley, working together is exception, not the rule, but with a new round of 1-percent funding from the Haywood County Tourism Authority becoming available for the fiscal year 2014-2015, the major tourism players in Maggie have decided to combine their resources to give a unified voice to their marketing efforts," the release stated.

The Maggie Valley Area Lodging Association, Haywood County Hotel and Motel Association, Maggie Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Maggie Valley have agreed to pool the advertising budget requests to form a co-op to make the marketing dollars go further.

Meissner said getting these entities to work together had been difficult in the past, but for whatever reason, it came together this year. He attended a marketing meeting with the Maggie Valley Hotel and Motel Association where the idea was being kicked around.

"I asked who would facilitate it and no one said anything so I said I would do it," he said. "It wasn't that difficult. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be."

He said representatives from each group met to discuss the idea and Meissner gave a presentation to them. They all went back and spoke to their organizations and everyone was on board to participate.

The major benefit, according to Meissner, is that there will be more accountability to what marketing efforts have the best return for the money because everything will be filtered through the same website, www.visitmaggievalleync.com.

"A lot of the advertising in the past assigned by the 1-percent committee has basically had no accountability of what is working," he said.

Now, requests that come in through the website will be disseminated to the proper groups.

"All the leads from the co-op advertising will funnel through a single website, www.visitmaggievalleync.com and be distributed to the members via email requests and direct links to their respected websites," the press release said. "All the traffic to and from this site will be tracked and reported to the co-op members on a weekly basis, which will generate a true cost per lead on all funds spent."

The mix of media includes sponsored advertising on Google, Facebook, Twitter, Weather Channel, Southern Living, and Clear Channel Radio. A total of $55,000 in advertising co-op funds will be used.

The new co-op will eliminate any overlap in advertising. The associations still have 1 percent marketing funds available directly for what they consider niche-marketing needs. Monies are also available to special events and festivals as in the past.

Meissner said all the groups were excited about the new effort, especially the TDA because it will help streamline their accounting process.

Lynn Collins, director of the TDA, noted "this is a great opportunity for Maggie Valley to come together and put up a common tourism face, optimize their marketing dollars and streamline the accountability of the effort."

The co-op will continue to be facilitated by Imountain.net.

"I will be managing the accounts purchasing the media through the TDA," Meissner said.

While the groups will still do some print advertising, including a billboard between Franklin and Dillsboro, he said most advertising would be online.

"We'll be marketing attractions and featuring Maggie Valley as a destination," he said.

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