Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau Case Study

Destination Marketing + Tourism Development

INITIAL ISSUE

Following the departure of the Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau’s communications director, leadership desired to assess the department and its role. In the interim, the CVB looked to outsource their communication needs to a firm with expertise in tourism marketing. Temporary personnel provided administrative support to the department.

Among other items, the short-term contract required the outside agency to provide direction and oversight of the worker to:

  • Make sure media inquiries were responded to appropriately,
  • Monthly Tourist Development Authority (TDA) reports were completed and on time,
  • Publications were completed as scheduled,
  • The CVB’s website was kept up-to-date,
  • Other assignments were being completed properly, and
  • Suggest recommendations for improvement.

SOLUTION

The first order of business was to establish some level of function so the temp worker would not jump ship. In addition to maintaining operations, pro-active efforts were made to build systems. For instance, whenever a question or a need arose, the goal was to develop a standard response that could be used immediately, as well as in the future. As monthly reports were also required for the Tourist Development Authority (TDA) board meeting, it was important that key elements be tracked.

Each week a communiqué was distributed to the hospitality industry. Flying Compass provided recommendations for content created by the admin, proofed and edited it before submitting it up for final approval.

The CVB’s sales department solicited association business and news releases were a benefit touted as one of the bureau’s services. News releases were developed and sent by the department using an existing cookie cutter template to local media only.

One of the department’s projects, the annual Visitor Guide, was already in progress. It had been outsourced to a third party and was at the proofing and production stage. The outside vendor was paid a fair sum of money to sell ads and produce the 4” x 9” piece. Because the crossovers did not line up properly, Flying Compass negotiated between the vendor and printer and the CVB to find a fair answer to all parties due to the printer’s poor workmanship.

BENEFIT

Flying Compass had been brought in to maintain the day-to-day operation and oversee its workflow. However, instead of maintaining a working department, our efforts dealt with developing baseline systems in order to meet minimum communications needs.

Because Flying Compass is knowledgeable in all aspects of destination marketing organizations – sales – meetings, sports and leisure group; convention services; leisure travelers; visitor bureau operations; the industry – hotels, attractions, tour operators, transportation, etc.; volunteers; government; special events; communications – collateral materials, websites and publicity – we were able to quickly look at the challenges and how they impacted other departments and make recommendations for improvement.

Our reports to the CVB detailed our findings and were incorporated into the assessment of the department.

EVOLVING ISSUES

The Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau’s leadership desired to implement our recommendations. However, rather than soliciting resumes from individuals to filled the vacated position, they put out a request for proposal for a firm with tourism marketing expertise.

As part of the proposal, they looked for the firm to:

  • Organize the department’s infrastructure by expanding its role and increasing the depth and quality of its resources;
  • Work with the CVB in hiring a qualified media manager;
  • Take proactive efforts to promote the destination versus responding to in-bound inquiries;
  • Establish and maintain production schedules while updating data and designing various collateral materials such as an annual visitor guide, restaurant guide, map, etc.;
  • Develop a positive working relationship among all departments including the newly established leisure tourism department;
  • Improve interactions and relationships with the local, regional and state hospitality industry to better leverage opportunities and exposure; and
  • Present opportunities for further improvement.

SOLUTIONS

Building upon our earlier work in establishing a foundation for the department, additional resources were created.

Publication Schedule

Flying Compass created an annual production schedule for the visitor guide, restaurant guide and map. Each can require substantial lead-time to update listings, secure or take quality photos, draft and edit copy, design, review proofs, seek approval from management, print and receive delivery. Organizing the work flow allowed projects to be received prior to season and to also assure they were spread out throughout the year.

A system was developed to monitor inventory to avoid “We’re on the last box of restaurant guides.” As part of this project, data collection was standardized to eliminate repeated request for information and to minimize touch time. This data was used by multiple agencies and for different purposes. Policy was developed for non-responses.

Visitor Guides - A Profit Center

Having observed the expense and challenges with the minimally designed 4” x 9” visitor guide, Flying Compass recommended changes. We suggested the sales function be outsourced and that revenue from sales be collected by the bureau and used to pay for the guide’s production cost.

As part of this project, we defined the table of contents and layout for editorial and ads, wrote copy, selected images, re-touched photos taking them from good to very, very nice, designed the cover and pages, presented to management for approval and oversaw the production and delivery.

We also recommended a rack brochure be used at state welcome centers and consumer trade shows. Production costs could be covered by Visitor Guide revenue.

In a later year, relocation-related businesses were solicited. Regional DMOs, such as Mount Airy, began placing ads in “our” Visitor Guide and “us” in theirs.

Visitor Guides for Winston-Salem Convention & Visitors Bureau

Media Kit

When Flying Compass began working with the CVB, the media kit lacked depth. We wrote news release with substance and focused on new angles directed at its target markets.

We also developed numerous themed story ideas filled with rich enticing copy. Rounding out the kit were quick facts, backgrounders, an accessible online image library with fewer by more dynamic photos and additional releases on special topics.

Image Library

Flying Compass educated CVB staff on copyright law. Our goal was to save the CVB from potentially embarrassing calls or emails for mislabeled images or unauthorized use. Ultimately we wanted to avoid a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

With the help of the media manager, Flying Compass established a media library, researched and cataloged a vast collection of quality images after securing proper background on each image.

The Media

Flying Compass educated CVB staff on copyright law. Our goal was to save the CVB from potentially embarrassing calls or emails for mislabeled images or unauthorized use. Ultimately we wanted to avoid a lawsuit for copyright infringement.

With the help of the media manager, Flying Compass established a media library, researched and cataloged a vast collection of quality images after securing proper background on each image.

Advertising Co-op Programs

During Flying Compass’ tenure with Winston-Salem, we coordinated co-op advertising opportunities where the bureau paid a higher fair-share so as to encourage participation by the hospitality industry members with small budgets.

Similarly Flying Compass also worked with regional DMOs to create the first affordable cost-sharing co-op program. This allowed DMOs with smaller budgets to participate in publications otherwise out of their reach. This included a focus or spotlight section of a national inflight-airline magazine, Attache.

A statewide co-operative email marketing campaign, Experience North Carolina was developed by Flying Compass for the North Carolina Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus through the CVB’s leisure tourism department. The emails were sent to AAA travel counselors. The website was created allowing North Carolina DMOs to sign up for one or more of the quarterly emails, upload their image, copy and billing information. The program was managed within the website thus saving sending and resending materials by email.

Co-op Ad for CVBs of the NC Piedmont

Special Events

Flying Compass arranged for news release distribution beyond the local area. Each quarter the media in key feeder market were contacted and provided a list of upcoming events. The CVB played a key role in making sure local events meeting established criteria submitted an application for consideration as one of Southeast Tourism Society’s Top 20 Events.

The communications department through its weekly communiqué to the industry encouraged local hospitality industry members to provide content for these news releases and to the CVB’s online calendar of events.

ArtsIgnite, a mulit-day cultural event, was produced by the Arts Council. Flying Compass took the lead in promoting the event to the travel media. The event was the focus point of one of the bureau’s media missions.

Arts Ignite Festival Winston-Salem

Website – The Next Generation

When it was time to move the CVB’s website to the next generation Flying Compass developed the site’s architecture, navigation and design which included many automated features giving each department admin access and the ability to update their department’s content to established standards.

  • Visitor and relocation inquiries could easily be downloaded for preparing mailing labels.
  • Mailing labels could also be generated and sent to relocation businesses that had purchased an ad in the Visitor Guide.
  • A planning tool using a rich database of descriptions and hand-drawn artwork allowed consumers to plan and plot their itinerary.
  • A popular community calendar of events was dovetailed into the website.
  • Hotels could submit “Hot Deals” online as well as add wedding or honeymoon packages.
  • Meeting RFPs were standardized giving the industry the ability to submit online bids. The data could later be downloaded by CVB staff to flow into the bid.
  • The CVB could now provide inquirers a clean bid package. Meeting planners no longer received a mishmash of information bundled in a thick packet.
  • The meetings section of the website now displayed the convention calendar.
  • The Tourist Development Authority (TDA) clerk could upload the latest committee meeting minutes or the board list.
  • The media center featured news releases, an image library, and a request form.
Destination Website Convention & Visitors Bureau

Marketing Opportunities

The nearby Yadkin Valley appellation is filled with wineries and vineyards which attracts visitors. Flying Compass assisted in developing a Golden LEAF grants application for a wine marketing program by recommending content, editing and proofing.

Working with the newly developed leisure tourism department, we helped develop collateral materials for the family reunion and group tour markets.

Marketing Opportunities

The nearby Yadkin Valley appellation is filled with wineries and vineyards which attracts visitors. Flying Compass assisted in developing a Golden LEAF grants application for a wine marketing program by recommending content, editing and proofing.

Working with the newly developed leisure tourism department, we helped develop collateral materials for the family reunion and group tour markets.

Off-Season Promotions

The new tourism department developed holiday shopping packages and holiday shows and activity packages. Flying Compass developed the collateral materials and then marketed the packages in feeder markets.

Flying Compass met with members of the attraction association and encouraged they develop relationships with area hotels and educate their front line personnel and suggested the creation of packages all in an effort to sell more attraction tickets.

CVB Holiday Brochure for Winston-Salem, NC

Internship Program

Flying Compass spearheaded a department internship program, screened candidates, defined expectations and projects and composed letters of recommendation after successful completion of the internship.

Policies & Procedures Manual

Flying Compass developed the communication department’s how-to manual so as to guide and empower the communications staff thus freeing up management’s time for other projects.

BENEFITS

Flying Compass brought to the table a broad base understanding of the hospitality industry and how all the pieces fit together and interacted. In addition, their experience as tourism marketers allowed them to take numerous print and online projects from concept to delivery.

Flying Compass, tourism marketing experts, were able to establish and organize an effective communications department with the tools necessary to properly promote the destination and automate efficiencies in other departments in the process.

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