Today, during National Tourism Week, the Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau (AAACCVB) will host a public reception at the Visitors Center located at 26 West Street in Annapolis at 11 a.m. to celebrate the launch of a new partnership to attract visitors and businesses to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. Leaders from AAACCVB, Anne Arundel County Economic Development Corporation, Annapolis Economic Development Corporation and the City of Annapolis also will be on hand to recognize their collaboration, which promises to magnify the reach of the AAACCVB’s current marketing campaign and includes the adoption of the slogan, “Find it Here!” by all four entities. “Find it Here!” is designed to convey all of this region’s offerings for tourists and businesses from across the country and the globe. The aggressive use of the slogan in AAACCVB’s marketing in the past year has played a significant role in increasing hotel occupancy and enticing visitors to the region. The May 6th event will feature elected officials, AAACCVB business partners from throughout the county and local city businesses who will be showcasing their products.
In their work with businesses, governments and residents to retain, expand and attract commerce to the area, both the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation and the Annapolis Economic Development Corporation will incorporate the “Find it Here!” message into their advertising and promotion of the City and County as attractive locations for business. Likewise, the City of Annapolis will adopt the theme in its publicity and outreach efforts and incorporate the slogan into Public Service Announcements that will be viewed across the state, including area movie theaters.
“Realizing that tourism directly employs 27,500 individuals in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, this represents 14 percent of the state’s tourism employment,” said Annapolis Mayor Michael Pantelides. “The Annapolis & Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau significantly contributes to our success and I applaud this cutting edge innovation to further expand the economic engine that brought 5.6 million visitors to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County last year.”
According to Connie Del Signore, AAACCVB’s President and CEO, the bureau’s new partnership with the Anne Arundel County, Annapolis Economic Development Corporations and the City of Annapolis is unique not only compared to their existing partners, but for Visitors Bureaus in general because of the shared adoption of the “Find it Here!” slogan. “We anticipate dramatically increasing the impact of the campaign as the message will be repeated across platforms beyond our usual reach,” explained Del Signore. “This co- branding will be evident in each of the entities’ marketing efforts to include print, broadcast media and digital advertising.”
“The ‘Find it Here!’ campaign really speaks to what we do,” notes Rosa Cruz, director of communications and marketing at Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation. “We were thrilled when AAACCVB was gracious enough to offer us a chance to partner with them and use the slogan for our initiatives to attract businesses and conferences to the county.”
The travel and tourism industry in Anne Arundel County generates $3.4 billion annually. “As the destination marketing organization for the city and county, our priority is to continue to increase those numbers,” said Del Signore. “We achieve that goal by partnering with local businesses and working with city, county and state officials to ensure that each visit is a spectacular one – and one that will be repeated.”
In 2008, AAACCVB was successful in getting Maryland legislation passed that provides for dedicated hotel room tax funding for the AAACCVB. This appropriation will give the Visitor’s Bureau a viable advertising budget of more than $1 million in 2013-’14 and has allowed the AAACCVB to bolster its efforts to increase tourism-generated expenditures. In 2013, AAACVB used these funds to redesign a new website and increase the amount of advertising and marketing throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
Recent statistics are encouraging, said Del Signore, who noted that hotel occupancy has increased. Conferences, corporate meetings and other CVB booked events are up 10 percent, of which 60 percent were room nights booked for sporting events throughout the county.
“I am very concerned about job creation,” noted Senator John Astle (D-Anne Arundel). “Anne Arundel County is one of the fastest growing counties in state. So it makes sense for the City and County Economic Development Corporations to team with the City of Annapolis and the Visitor’s Bureau for the ‘Find it Here!’ campaign. We’re getting the word out that we can help to find a great vacation destination – or relocate a business to the area.”
This type of mutually beneficial partnership is not new to the AAACCVB. The idea was sparked in part by a first of its kind marketing relationship with the Newport, Rhode Island Convention & Visitors Bureau that the AAACCVB forged in 2010. Newport shares a number of characteristics with Annapolis including size, proximity to water and historical significance. The two have been pooling their resources to host events designed to help both destinations capture a larger share of the lucrative meetings and conventions market. For example, the organizations jointly host invitation-only luncheons for Mid-Atlantic meeting planners to explain why it makes good sense for them to book their events in Annapolis and Newport.
Tim Walsh, Newport’s Vice President of Sales, calls it a win/win for all involved. “Meeting planners are busy people,” he noted. “By enabling them to learn about two great destinations at a single event, we are saving them time and money. At the same time, Newport and Annapolis are able to stretch our marketing dollars by jointly absorbing the cost.” AAACCVB is launching a similar joint effort with another capital city, Albany, NY, this summer.
Closer to home, AAACCVB also partners with many local businesses, offering them three options, including the opportunity to be a Premier Partner, which among other benefits, affords prominent placement on the Visitor’s Bureau website.
According to Erin B. McNaboe, vice president of The Rams Head Group, “Since AAACVB launched its new website last year, our web referrals from the site have grown dramatically. Each week www.visitannapolis.org is one of the top 20 referring websites to ramsheadgroup.com. This increase in growth is a combination of thoughtful integration, dedicated partners sharing their product information and AAACCVB bloggers creating relevant and interesting content.”
And there is still more room to grow, according to the results of a 2010 Visitor Profile study. While 56 percent of non-visitors indicated that they definitely planned on visiting Anne Arundel County in the next two years, nearly one-quarter of the surveyed “non-visitors” said they did not know anything about Anne Arundel County and all that it offers as a destination.
Among AAACCVB’s current and future marketing goals are:
• Increase unique visits, page views, and time spent on www.visitannapolis.org
• Leverage advertising/marketing/communications dollars by participating in cooperative projects with Maryland Office of Tourism Development (OTD), Capital Region USA
(CRUSA) and Maryland Office of Sports Marketing
• Increase cooperative marketing activities with our CVB Partners
The 2013 -14 fiscal year AAACCVB expanded their advertising and marketing efforts to include Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, Northern Virginia/ DC, and New York/New Jersey, and well as instituting some international effort in places like the United Kingdom/Ireland/Wales, France, Germany, and Brazil through Capital Region USA. Find AAACCVB’s FY 2013-2014 Marketing plan here.
The AAACCVB is a nonprofit, membership-based, destination marketing organization that generates revenues for the local economy by promoting Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay to leisure and business travelers across the country and around the world.
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