Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 01/27/2016  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a quarterly update from The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau;
FISCAL IMPACT:
BACKGROUND:
Each quarter, The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau updates The Woodlands Township Board of Directors with a written financial report as well as a visual presentation concerning the services provided by The Woodlands CVB to The Woodlands Township. The Woodlands CVB on behalf of The Woodlands Township markets and promotes shopping, dining, lodging and entertainment in The Woodlands to stimulate sales tax and hotel occupancy tax collections.
 
An updated financial report from The Woodlands CVB follows this Executive Summary comparing budget to actual expenditures through November 2015.
 
A presentation will be made by CVB President, Nick Wolda during the January 27, 2016 meeting of The Woodlands Township Board of Directors with a 2015 year-end report on services, including visitor activity, sales efforts and related results of the destination marketing efforts
 
The Woodlands CVB’s 2015 Mission was to position The Woodlands as a regionally, nationally and internationally recognized tourist destination by developing quality marketing programs and events to attract visitors and stimulate economic development and growth.
 
The Woodlands CVB directs its marketing efforts locally, regionally, nationally and internationally to group and meeting planners, travel agents, tour operators, travel journalists and the general public who directly influence visitors’ choices in shopping, dining and residential living in The Woodlands.
 
In 2015, The Woodlands CVB Board of Directors comprised of Gordy Bunch, Chairman; Fred Domenick, Vice Chairman; Ed Robb, Treasurer/Secretary; Peggy Hausman, Director; JJ Hollie, Director; Don Norrell, Director; Greg Parsons, Director and Nick Wolda as President.
 
Below are key stats of The Woodlands CVB’s efforts, through year end 2015:
           
Communication Outreach
  • In March 2015, The Woodlands CVB’s Board of Directors approved the creation and use of a new logo. The logo eliminated the 4 circle icons above the CVB name.
  • The Woodlands CVB launched a tear off map with restaurant list. The map is helpful for our hospitality partners to utilize when interacting with visitors to The Woodlands.
  • A new calendar feature launched on the CVB’s website making it easier for residents and visitors to know what there is to do in The Woodlands on any given weekend.
  • In October 2015, The Woodlands CVB launched a refreshed website to enhance visitor usability and align with brand goals.
  • The Woodlands CVB discontinued the printing of the Discovery Guide and Savings Book & moved efforts to a digital platform. The featured special offers and packages make it easier for a visitor to experience The Woodlands fully.
  • The Woodlands CVB’s quarterly newsletter, Current was redesigned to reflect the clean and fresh approach of the CVB.
  • Organized 6 Connections meetings - a bimonthly series specifically designed for The Woodlands restaurants, hotels and retailers.
  • Hosted 4 meetings for The Woodlands CVB Marketing Committee who create marketing programs, including advertising and public relations, and develop strategies to bring visitors to The Woodlands.
 
Visitor, Media and Public Relations Activity
  • Recordation of over 122,000+ visitors through Visitor Services at Market Street and The Woodlands Mall
    • Year to date, visitors from over 900 different Texas zip codes, 98 countries and 49 states other than Texas plus District of Columbia & 3 US territories
  • 460+ responses to media inquiries about The Woodlands as a destination
  • 950+ articles about The Woodlands as a destination
  • Submitted information regarding restaurants in The Woodlands to Smart Meetings Magazine that has a circulation of about 44,000.
  • Assisted with the coordination of Fox Houston’s Hometown Friday in The Woodlands on July 23, 2015. Fox 26 Houston broadcasted live from Market Street. Vice Chairman Fred Domenick represented The Woodlands CVB to specifically showcase tourism.
  • On August 12, 2015 KHOU’s Great Day Houston featured The Woodlands’ 4th of July giveaway winner. The winner won a weekend getaway to The Woodlands during 4th of July – prizes included a 2-night stay at the Resort, Market Street gift cards, area restaurant gift cards and special tickets for the Star Spangled Salute and Red, Hot & Blue. The host, Debra Duncan promoted summer travel to The Woodlands.
 
Destination Marketing
  • In 2015, over 60 print ads were placed amounting to over 14,000 leads to add to the CVB database. Ads included, but not limited to:
  • Houston Visitor Guide (spring)
  • See Texas First Insert: Circulation 1,025,755 in 24 newspapers in Texas and contiguous states.
  • Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine: circulation of 450,000 and targets the flying affluent. The magazine blends energetic travel reporting with diverse, trend-charting topics from the various industries.
  • Southern Living Magazine: circulation 650,000 and composed of a comprehensive editorial package highlighting foods, travel, homes and gardens in the South.
  • Texas Events Calendar
  • Texas Highways Magazine
  • Texas Journey Magazine
  • Texas State Travel Guide
  • Houston Official Visitor Guide
  • The Woodlands CVB was able to secure last minute ad buys at a deep discount with national publications such as:
    • Conde Nast Traveler (targeting Austin/San Antonio Subscribers)
    • Golf Digest (targeting Austin/San Antonio Subscribers)
    • Bride’s Magazine (targeting Texas subscribers)
    •  United Airlines Business Class Magazine, Rhapsody (targeting 2 million readers nationally a month)
  • Cable TV
  • 500 thirty second spots were showcased in the Greater Houston area to present The Woodlands for leisure travel and broadcasted in May to drive summer occupancy. Networks included HGTV, Lifetime, TLC and other cable programming.
 
  • Online
  • Facebook Page – www.Facebook.com/VisitTheWoodlands
    • 9,016 likes
  • Twitter Page – www.Twitter.com/TheWoodlandsCVB
    • 2,977 followers
  • YouTube Page – www.YouTube.com/TheWoodlandsCVB
    • 47,010 views
  • Instagram Page – www.Instagram.com/VisitTheWoodlandsTX
    • 550 followers (Launched in 2015)
  • Live tweeted for fans during the Ironman Texas event. The Woodlands CVB’s Facebook page saw a spike of about 12% of followers during Ironman.
  • #WishTheWoodlands campaign drove holiday messaging including shopping, dining, hotels and Ice Rink information.
  • #TravelisTheWoodlands campaign featured during Travel & Tourism Week in May. The social video won an award during the Texas Association of CVB’s Idea Fair.
  • Search Engine Marketing – involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages through optimization and advertising. This initiative targets Texas specifically to maximize reach.  
  • TourTexas.com – a premiere source for Texas Travel Information which generates leads to send marketing collateral to potential visitors.
  • TripAdvisor.com – An American travel website providing reviews of travel related content. It also includes interactive travel forums for social engagement.
  • USAToday.com – a multi-platform news and information media company. The Woodlands was specifically featured in the Money and Travel sections.
  • Video Globetrotter – is ranked in the top 4 on Google’s search for travel destination videos. The Woodlands is featured on a portion of the site that specifically targets travelers. The profile was launched on March 26, 2015.
  • Ad Network – Ad Networks are a group of websites that can be targeted by age, gender, geography, contextual content, behavior and include retargeting. This strategy allows us to target a potential consumer by the way they utilize the internet allowing for multiple exposures on a variety of sites and reach the consumer on all platforms: desktop, tablet and mobile.
  • Cooperative Advertising
  • Cooperative advertising efforts through a Wall Street Journal magazine style insert in the Austin, Corpus, Rio Grande Valley, San Antonio, Houston and Beaumont/Port Author markets. As well as a USAToday.com online initiative partnering with: Market Street, The Woodlands Development Company, The Woodlands Mall, Hyatt Market Street, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel & Convention Center
 
Group Sales Efforts
  • Conferences/Sales Travel
    • Group Sales Specialist attended 5 conferences throughout the year focusing on selling The Woodlands as a destination for meetings and events.  Conferences included:
      • Plan Your Meetings – Austin
      • Plan Your Meetings – Dallas
      • Collaborate Marketplace – Orlando
      • Connect Texas – Frisco
      • MPI – Texas Hill Country Chapter Annual Conference
    • Attended various Meeting Professionals International luncheons to network with meeting planners in the area.
    • Attended educational conferences for professional development and networking opportunities:
      • TACVB Mid-Winter Conference
      • TACVB Annual Conference
      • TTIA Annual Summit
      • GHCVB Tourism Summit
    • Visited Marriott sales office in Plano to meet the team that sells The Woodlands and gave presentation about recent updates in the area.
  • Hotel Meetings
    • Group Sales Specialist held 5 meetings with hoteliers in The Woodlands to share updates from the CVB and provide an opportunity for managers to share news from their hotel properties.
    • Guest speakers were invited to attend the meetings.  Speakers included:
      • Shannon Wilson, The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
      • Gil Staley, The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership
      • Bernard Kaplan, Kaplan PR
      • Travis Bryant, the Texas Renaissance Festival
    • Kara Stanley informed the hotels about the newly approved CVB budget for 2016 and gave detailed information about the proposed changes for the CVB.
    • New attendees included representatives from the new Westin and Embassy Suites as well as the new sales managers for the Hyatt Place and Hyatt Market Street.
  • Marketing efforts
    • Ad Network adds deployed throughout the year.  These networks are targeted specifically to a demographic and allow the advertiser to target a specific customer by the way the customer uses the internet.
    • 3 - ½ page ads in Association Leadership
      • Distribution to meeting planners in the Texas association market.
    • 3 - ½ page ads in Texas Meetings and Events
      • Distribution to meeting planners in the Texas market.
    • 5 E-blasts sent to 30,000 meeting planners and business travelers
      • Goal of the e-blast was to build awareness of The Woodlands as a destination for meetings and events.
      • Featured stories included a list of “The Top 10 Reasons to Expect More from your Meetings in The Woodlands” as well as articles about the renovation at The Woodlands Resort and the new hotel openings. 
    • Maintain Meeting Planner website, www.MeetingsInTheWoodlands.com
  • Convention Servicing
    • Group Sale Specialist assisted numerous groups visiting The Woodlands for a conference.
      • Worked with Texas Pharmacy Association to plan group activities for their conference attendees in The Woodlands and also provided welcome bags for their registration table.
      • Assisted a meeting planner with planning an off-site fitness activity for a conference group.
      • Assisted meeting planner for Red Cross Inter-Americas Conference held at the Resort.  Provided welcome bags to attendees and set-up an information booth during the conference.
      • Provided welcome bags with visitor information and welcome letters to various groups meeting in The Woodlands.
 
  • Sales efforts
    • Distributed over 45 leads to hotels in The Woodlands.
    • Prepared bid presentation for the Texas Young Republicans to hold annual convention in The Woodlands in 2017.
      • Provided gift bags with information about The Woodlands to the selection committee.
      • The Woodlands did not win the bid but hopes to try again next year.
    • Prepared bid presentation to hold the 2017 Texas Local Fire Fighters’ Pension Conference in The Woodlands.
      • The Woodlands won the bid and the group is still deciding on host hotel.
    • Prepared bid presentation for the US Karate World Alliance Championships.
  • Texas Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus Annual Conference
    • The Woodlands hosted the TACVB Annual Conference on August 3-6, 2015.
    • 250 CVB employees from around the state of Texas attended the conference which was held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott.
    • Conference featured 2 days of educational sessions on topics including sales, marketing, conference servicing, social media, executive leadership and current tourism trends.
    • The Woodlands CVB hosted an opening reception at the Marriott featuring live music from local band Sawdust Road, a photo booth, an appearance by Puffy Pinecone and door prizes from local stores and restaurants.
    • The Woodlands CVB also provided staff from visitor services at the conference registration desk.
      • Welcome bags included information about The Woodlands as well as a tree sapling that attendees could plant at their home.
    • The conference attendees had nothing but positive reviews for The Woodlands.  Everyone loved the walkability of the Town Center area and the Marriott also received rave reviews.
 
Business Development
Ended year, $331,150 of the $325,000 goal is contracted or 102% of goal.
 
Waterway Cruiser Update
  • 2015 Background
    • At the July 15, 2015 Board Meeting, the CVB recommended that The Woodlands Township assume operations of the Woodlands Waterway Cruiser program
    • At the August 5, 2015 Township Board of Directors Budget Workshop, the Township Board declined assuming operations and funding the Waterway Cruisers after December 31, 2015
    • At the September 2, 2015 CVB Board meeting, Directors authorized The Goodman Corporation to research alternatives & recommendations
  • Extension Amendment (November 4, 2015)
    • CVB Board authorized extension with Brazos Transit District to operate the Cruisers until March 31, 2016 at an operating rate of $58 an hour to be paid for out of the CVB fund balance
  • Request for Expressions of Interest (November 20, 2015)
    • The Goodman Corporation distributed a RFEI for the short listing of contractors/service providers  to operate boats after March 31, 2016
    • The Goodman Corporation offered a tour of Plato Pappas Marina for interested parties – tour was cancelled due to lack of interest
    • RFEI Submission deadline = December 31, 2015
    • No Action taken at January 2016 Board Meeting
  • Request for Proposal – Sale of Cruisers (November 20, 2015)
    • The Goodman Corporation distributed a RFP to sell one (1) to six (6) Waterway Cruisers to interested parties
    • RFP Submission deadline = December 31, 2015
    • No Action taken at January 2016 Board Meeting
  • Change in Hours (Effective December 4, 2015)
    • Friday: 2pm-10pm (changed from 11am-9pm)
    • Saturday: noon-10pm (changed from 11am-10pm)
    • Sunday:  noon-8pm (changed from 11am-8pm)
  • Ridership
    • From January to December 2015, a total of 33,193 passengers boarded the Cruisers which is a 9.38% decrease from 2014. In the 4th quarter alone, the boats did not run at all on 4 weekend days due to high winds and bad weather. Additionally, 3 charters were cancelled in December due to bad weather which made for unsafe boating conditions.
RECOMMENDATION:
There is no Board action necessary at this time.
Attachments
CVB Financials


    

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