Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Case Study | Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB)
Destination Marketing + Tourism Development
The Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau’s leadership desired to implement the recommendations of Flying Compass’ destination marketing audit. Rather than soliciting resumes to fill the open director position, they posted a request for proposal for a firm with tourism marketing expertise. We responded.
As part of our proposal, we looked to:
- Take proactive efforts to promote the destination versus responding only to in-bound inquiries;
- Establish and maintain production schedules while updating data and coordinating various collateral materials;
- Improve engagement and relationships with the local, regional and state hospitality industry to better leverage opportunities and exposure;
- Play a key role in organizing regional advertising co-ops; and
- Present opportunities for further improvement.
Building upon our earlier work for the Winston-Salem CVB, additional resources were created.
Flying Compass created an annual production schedule for the visitor guide, restaurant guide and map. Each can require substantial lead-time to produce. Organizing the workflow allowed projects to be delivered prior to season and to also assure staff time demands were spread throughout the year.
Data collection was standardized to eliminate multiple requests to the industry, improving response rate and minimizing touch time.
Systems were developed to monitor marketing materials inventory to avoid “We’re out.”
Visitor Guides – A Profit Center
Having observed the expense and challenges with the minimally designed 4” x 9” Winston-Salem CVB visitor guide, Flying Compass recommended:
The sales function as well as the design and production be separated and both be outsourced;
- Revenue be collected by the bureau and be used to pay for the guide’s sales commissions and production costs, creating a net profit;
- A larger format publication be used to allow for better design and greater impact; and
- Proceeds also be used to create a companion rack brochure.
Flying Compass’ team re-defined the contents and layout for editorial and ads, wordsmithed copy, selected dynamic photography and re-touched images when needed. Flying Compass designed the publication, presented to management for review and approval, distributed printing RPFs and coordinated the production and delivery.
Regional destination marketing organizations (DMOs), including Mount Airy, Andy Griffith’s Mayberry, began placing ads in “our” Visitor Guide and “ours” in theirs. In a later year, relocation-related businesses were solicited with the proviso they would receive relocation inquiries, if consumers opted in. We also recommended a less costly rack brochure be used at state welcome centers and consumer trade shows. Production and printing costs were now covered by Visitor Guide revenue.
Media Kit and Image Library
When we began working with the Winston-Salem CVB, the media kit lacked depth and breadth. News releases with substance were written. New story angles targeted key visitor demographics.
Numerous themed story ideas were developed and filled with enticing copy. Rounding out the kit were a quick facts sheet, backgrounders, an accessible online image library with fewer but more dynamic photos and additional releases on special topics.
Flying Compass established policies and standards for the image library. The media manager researched and cataloged a vast collection of quality images after securing proper background and photo credits for each image.
Flying Compass educated CVB staff on copyright law, saving the CVB from potentially embarrassing inquiries regarding mislabeled images or unauthorized use. Ultimately we sought to avoid a lawsuit for copyright infringement.
Media Missions and News Releases
Each quarter the media in key feeder markets were contacted and provided a list of upcoming events. Outreach efforts to the local industry encouraged major special events, meeting established criteria, to submit an application to be considered and honored as one of Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events.
Flying Compass took the lead in promoting ArtsIgnite, a multi-day Arts Council-sponsored festival, to the travel media. We also directed the media manager to organize media missions with area attractions in target markets each year. ArtsIgnite was the focal point of one of these media missions.
The local hospitality industry was regularly encouraged to provide content for news releases and the CVB’s online events calendar. They were also invited to attend the media missions.
Advertising Co-op Programs
During our tenure, Flying Compass coordinated co-op advertising opportunities where the bureau paid a higher fair-share so as to encourage participation by members of the hospitality industry with small budgets. Similarly we also worked with regional destination marketing organizations (DMOs) to create a first-time affordable cost-sharing co-op program. This allowed DMOs with smaller budgets to participate in publications otherwise out of reach. As an example, a regional spotlight section in a national inflight-airline magazine resulted in an ad shared by large and small DMOs.
Flying Compass developed an online sign-up website for a statewide co-operative email marketing campaign for the North Carolina Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus through the Winston-Salem CVB’s leisure tourism department. The emails were sent to AAA travel counselors. The website allowed North Carolina DMOs to sign up for one or more of the quarterly emails and upload their image, copy and billing information. The program was managed within the website thus saving numerous emails.
Website – The Next Generation
When it was time to move the Winston-Salem CVB’s website to the next generation, our Flying Compass team developed the site’s architecture and navigation, and designed the site. We also incorporated many automated features. Access was given to each department to update their respective content based on established standards.
- Using the latest technology, visitor and relocation inquiries were now readily accessible for processing.
- Opt-in lists were easily generated and sent to relocation businesses that had purchased an ad in the Visitor Guide.
- An itinerary planner tool was implemented.
- A popular community calendar of events was integrated into the website.
- Hotels could submit “Hot Deals” as well as add wedding or honeymoon packages.
- Meeting RFPs were standardized giving the industry the ability to submit their respective available space. CVB staff could then flow this data into the bureau’s bid packet.
- A convention calendar now auto-filled into the meetings section of the website.
- Tourist Development Authority (TDA) board and committee minutes or the board list could be uploaded by the TDA clerk.
- The media center now featured news releases, an image library and a request form.
- The nearby Yadkin Valley wine appellation is filled with wineries and vineyards attracting numerous visitors. Flying Compass assisted in preparing a grant application for a wine marketing program.
- Our team developed collateral materials for family reunions, group tours and holiday shopping packages.
- We met with the local attractions association, encouraged members to develop relationships with area hotels and to educate front line personnel about their attractions, and suggested the creation of hotel packages to sell more tickets.
- We spearheaded an internship program with local colleges and universities to assist in many of the department’s labor-intensive projects.
As highlighted in this case study, Flying Compass brought a broad base understanding of how quasi-government agencies and the hospitality industry function independently and together. In addition, we took numerous print and online projects from concept to delivery, including a website with the following sections – experience (leisure), group tours, visitor center, meetings, sports, calendar of events, media and hotels.
As tourism marketing experts, Flying Compass was able to establish an effective, fully functioning marketing and communications department with the tools necessary to properly promote the destination. This included a standard operating procedures (SOP) manual with policies designed to empower department personnel, while freeing up management’s time for other projects.
Additionally, we developed and automated a number of tools, creating efficiencies within other departments as well.
To learn more about this and other case studies, contact Flying Compass today.