Bureau hopes wider net captures more tourists Plans to spend $1.6 million for advertising
BY BERNARD HARRIS, Staff Writer
The county's tourism promotion board will soon launch a multifaceted campaign it hopes will catch the eye of as many as 100 million people.
It hopes many of of them will come here and spend money.
The Pennsylvania Dutch Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to diversify the $1.6 million it will spend on advertising this year.
In addition to a television commercial that will soon be aired in the Philadelphia and New York markets, the visitors bureau also will buy digital and static billboards to reinforce the same message.
It also will spend money on direct mailings, email marketing and advertisements on websites, said Kathleen Frankford, president of the visitors bureau.
The mass marketing television commercials and billboards will contrast an "old world" charm of Lancaster County's Amish and Plain sect attractions with a "new world" of arts, dining and shopping in the county's urban areas.
"Families will see these commercials. Couples will see these commercials and it will have an emotional appeal, and they will think: 'Wow, there's a lot more to do than the Amish,' " Frankford said.
She presented an overview of the marketing campaign to board members of the Lancaster County Convention Center Authority at their Thursday meeting.
The bureau last year spent about the same amount on advertising, but nearly all of that money was spent on television commercials that were shown during news shows. And more than a third of that advertising was underwritten by specific county attractions that were highlighted in those commercials.
Frankford, who took over as the bureau's top executive in late January, said the web ads and the direct mail pieces can be targeted at specific people, like those who come to Lancaster for shopping.
She said the television commercials will be targeted to specific areas in suburban Philadelphia, northern New Jersey and Long Island, New York, where many previous visitors to the county live, she said.
The goal is to have the Lancaster County advertising seen by at least 100 million people. That number is double those who could be expected to see prior ad campaigns, she said.
She said there are no clear measures to show how many people will be brought to the county as a result of the advertising. Some 10 million visit the county annually.
The goal is also to increase the amount visitors spend here. Estimates are that visitors who come here for one or two days spend an average of $155 per person, she said.
The ramp-up to the summer leisure travel season follows a good start for tourism this year. The first three months of the year saw increases of 7.6 percent in hotel occupancy in the county, as well as increases in revenue and room rates from a year ago, Frankford said.
She reported that attractions such as Dutch Wonderland amusement park, Sight & Sound theater and the American Music Theatre are all doing well coming out of the normally slow winter months.
Steve Sikking, the bureau board chairman, did note that 10 of the state's 14 tourism regions saw declines in the first quarter, with some posting double-digit drops.
How much of a role did convention center events, such as January's MLK Classic volleyball tournament and March's American Quilters Society show, play in boosting the county's numbers, convention center authority board Chairman Kevin Fry later asked center General Manager Mark Moosic.
The center didn't do it all, Moosic responded. But the events and the investment in the 4-year-old center and attached Marriott hotel played a role in raising the level of tourism.
"As a community, the whole community effort has worked to give it a competitive edge over other communities," he said.