Board of Directors Regular Meeting Agenda


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Meeting Date: 04/27/2016  

SUBJECT MATTER:
Receive, consider and act upon a quarterly update from The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau;
FISCAL IMPACT:
None.
BACKGROUND:
In 2016, The Woodlands Convention & Visitors  Bureau (CVB) Board of Directors shifted away from the production of community festivals and events to a newly defined focus, which realigns the organization with more traditional goals of a Convention and Visitors Bureau.

In January of 2016, CVB staff in collaboration with The Atkins Group developed a Strategic Marketing and Communications plan to act as a road map and outline objectives and strategies for the new focus. The CVB Board approved the plan at the January 12, 2016 Annual Board Meeting.  The Strategic Marketing and Communications Plan will act as an outline and basis of measurement for this and future quarterly reports.

Within the plan, staff identified 3 key strategic initiatives to base objectives and strategies off of. These are explained below:

2016 Strategic Initiatives
  1. Room Absorption: Develop marketing and sales efforts for effective absorption of significant new room inventory while targeting to maintain current occupancy percentages and achieving desirable average daily rate (ADR)  and revenue per available room (RevPAR).
  2. Target Audiences: Apply market intelligence to develop a deep understanding of the travel aspirations, motivations, behaviors and experiences of all target travel audiences for The Woodlands.
  3. Brand Awareness: Effectively create and shape a fully evolved brand for the destination and build broad awareness of The Woodlands as an upscale, premier leisure, business, corporate, convention and meetings destination.
2016 Objectives, Strategies and Current Progress
  • Brand & Advertising Campaign
    • Objective: Explore and develop a fully evolved brand identity for the destination and execute the brand through a cohesive advertising campaign.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Completed an online focus group with qualified meeting planners who have hosted conventions and corporate meetings in The Woodlands within the last 2 years in February of 2016. Additionally, the survey for the leisure market was developed. The overall brand sentiment study will unearth current perceptions associated with The Woodlands brand, to define the core essence of The Woodlands brand experience and to explore what makes The Woodlands unique and desirable, while understanding key drivers in selecting a destination by our target audiences.  The CVB is utilizing the current campaign until research is complete.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: In the 2nd quarter, the CVB will complete the leisure phase of the brand research and compile the findings into a report to be presented to the CVB Board in June. From these findings, a campaign with new photography and taglines will be developed.
  • Paid Media
    • Objective: Use multi-discipline advertising efforts to increase awareness of The Woodlands to our target audiences and markets, build interest and drive visitors to the website and/or other online mediums.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Developed an annual media plan with emphasis on peak planning times while maximizing media impressions, reach and frequencies through expanded budget allocation and a focus on digital and social media channels. This media plan was approved by the Board at the February CVB Board of Directors Meeting and is attached for your reference.
        • Quarter 1 insertions included: SEM, TourTexas.com, TripAdvisor.com, Video Globetrotter, the Houston Visitor Guide (spring/summer)and Texas Monthly.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Measurement of engagement of the 1st quarter insertions will be available. Additionally, the peak the media plan runs during the 2nd quarter flighted for summer travel. 
  • Web & Technology
    • Objective: Provide digital solutions to enhance and propel The Woodlands CVB sales and marketing efforts.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Began research into the rebuild of the current VisitTheWoodlands.com website to restructure the site map, navigation, content, functionality and enhance Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with the goal of improving User Interface (UI) to ultimately drive website visitation, engagement and conversion.
        • Visits to the CVB site doubled in 2016 compared to 2015: in the first quarter, VisitTheWoodlands.com saw 31,667 visitors to the site compared to 15,849 during the same quarter in 2015.
        • New visitors to the website continue to increase: Of the 31,667 visitors to the website, during the first quarter, 77.41% were new visitors (not previously on the site before).
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Development of the new CVB website will begin and will take 17 weeks for completion. New features will include: online tools like interactive visitors guide and itineraries, special offers/packages, upgraded calendar of events, targeted content, meeting planner tools, enhanced social sharing and geo-targeted mapping.
    • Objective: Establish and implement a visitor and meeting Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database through Simpleview.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Staff was trained on the various Simpleview modules by representatives from the Simpleview Company over a two day period in January 2016. Staff then utilized these skills to clean up the merchant database in an effort to begin a process of showcasing what the CVB does and can do for its partners.  Additionally, staff has communicated with The Atkins Group to add features to the current CVB website to begin collecting data from CVB web forms.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Staff anticipates opening the extranet portal for use by merchants.
  • Public Relations
    • Objective: Develop a public relations tool kit to enhance the media’s awareness of The Woodlands as a destination for business and leisure travel.
      • Quarter 1 Action: The CVB curated a defined media list in March of 2016 to distribute relevant information within defined target audience regions.
        • A total of nine press releases were distributed in the first quarter to the defined list promoting area activities, promotions and information related to the Waterway Cruisers.
        • Over 125 articles have been written about The Woodlands CVB and their efforts from this targeted list.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: The CVB will develop evergreen stories housed in the digital newsroom in an effort to appeal to potential media. 
    • Objective: Invest in proactive pitching to strengthen credibility with news outlets and broaden awareness of The Woodlands as a travel destination.
      • Quarter 1 Action: CVB staff wrote and distributed 4 articles for local community news outlets in order to educate The Woodlands on the shift in focus from community events to optimizing hotel occupancy.
    • Objective: Coordinate familiarization (FAM) tours and/or visits for travel writers and bloggers to see firsthand the opportunity The Woodlands has as a travel destination.
      • Quarter 1 Action: The CVB booked two qualified lifestyle bloggers to experience The Woodlands.
        • Katey McFarland of Chronicles of Frivolity, a luxury fashion blogger from Dallas will be staying with two friends at Hyatt Centric in Market Street. She will have the opportunity to experience shopping, dining and Market Street’s Art Show while in The Woodlands.
        • Cassie Freeman of Hi Sugarplum blog has been featured in Better Homes and Gardens, HGTV and in partnerships with Nordstrom. Cassie and her family who reside in Dallas will enjoy The Woodlands Resort in May and experience kayaking, a Pavilion show and other family friendly activities.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: A detailed report from the blogger visits will be given to the Board. Additionally, staff will pitch to additional publications for a weekend stay in The Woodlands.
  • Social Media
    • Objective: Engage potential visitors across social channels to create awareness of The Woodlands as a destination for travel.
      • Quarter 1 Action: generated relevant content geared towards potential visitors to educate those unfamiliar with what The Woodlands has to offer.
        • Twitter impressions have increased by 136%. By unlinking the account from Facebook and sharing specific Twitter messages, users are able to interact with the content more.
        • Facebook conversion rate increased by 144%.
        • Instagram followers have increased by 40%.
  • Objective: Develop an inclusive printed guide to showcase the opportunity of corporate meetings, conventions, business travel and sports events in The Woodlands.
    • Quarter 1 Action: Collected database of meeting planners to send updated guide once completed.
    • Quarter 2 Forecast: the CVB will launch newly redesigned Meeting Planner Guide that will be able to be personalized for each planner.
  • Objective: Refresh the Visitor Guide to solicit potential travel to The Woodlands from the leisure market.
    • Quarter 1 Action: Over 3,000 guides have been distributed from online requests, events and through merchants.
    • Quarter 2 Forecast: the CVB will launch the newly redesigned editorial style visitor guide and utilize to solicit future travelers to The Woodlands.
  • Objective: Continue and update Tear Off Map and Restaurant Guide to be used in-destination for educational purposes on locations within The Woodlands Town Center.
    • Quarter 1 Action: over 8,500 maps were distributed to hotel partners and visitors kiosks in an effort to directly reach visitors when they have questions or need directions while in destination.
    • Quarter 2 Forecast: updates to the map will take place in order to accommodate restaurant, Waterway Cruiser and Trolley route changes.
  • Objective: Engage CVB partners, merchants and peers with CVB initiatives through the quarterly printed newsletter, Current.
    • Quarter 1 Action: Curated content for the spring 2016 edition of Current that will stimulate the awareness of the CVB’s mission and yearly objectives as well as events and promotions happening in The Woodlands.
    • Quarter 2 Forecast: Spring 2016 Current distributed to 5,000 addresses.
  • Group Sales
    • Objective: Generate meetings/convention room nights in The Woodlands. Prospect groups that generate room nights to fill multiple hotels and create compression in the area.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Worked with Premier Soccer Services to book Copa Rayados Internacional tournament over the Thanksgiving weekend when hotel room utilization is historically slow.  The tournament is expected to generate 4,000 room nights.
    • Objective: Utilize budget funds to add value to prospective meetings in The Woodlands.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Presented new incentive program for CVB Board approval. The program will add value to meetings in The Woodlands and entice meeting planners to sign business with local hotels. Hotels have received information regarding new program.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Staff anticipates utilization of funds.
    • Objective: Elevate service options provided to groups in order to enhance the in-destination experience.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Hired Group Sales Specialist to provide personalized services to groups including, but not limited to, name tags, welcome bags, offsite activity assistance and registration desk staff.
        • Provided welcome bags and other pertinent information to 11 meetings or groups in The Woodlands.
        • Worked with the Thrive Blogger Conference to host luncheon for group and provided welcome amenities.
        • Built webpage on the CVB website with special promotions for attendees of the Lunar and Planetary Conference in March.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Staff anticipates implementing new “show your badge” program to provide standard merchant discounts to conference attendees while in destination.
    • Objective: Meet with potential meeting planners to sell The Woodlands as a destination for conferences and meetings.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Attended Southwest Showcase in Austin, Texas to work trade show booth and have access to over 200 planners from the association market. Met with meeting planner who has conference at the Marriott in September to provide site tour of the Waterway area and planned for possible fun run.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Registered to attend the Fraternal Executives Association Conference and the MPI World Education Conference in June where staff will have access to potential meeting planners for The Woodlands.
  • Co-Op & Partnerships
    • Objective: Strengthen cooperative advertising and partnerships to maximize advertising dollars and broaden reach of brand awareness.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Cooperative campaign will launch in May of 2016.
    • Objective: Partner with the Greater Houston CVB to expand marketing capabilities into new and existing territories with additional leverage.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Board approved agreement with the Houston and Beyond campaign to collaborate efforts of shared leisure travel interests and, as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, enhance the appeal of the region as a premier leisure travel destination. The initiative campaign includes opportunities for both media insertions and trade shows, as well as exploration of partnerships with airlines and other hospitality partners.
        • The CVB participated in the March edition of Texas Monthly under the Houston and Beyond umbrella.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: the CVB will continue meeting on a bi-monthly basis with Houston and Beyond partners. Additionally, there will be potential for participation in a Travel Week Rally with the Greater Houston CVB.
    • Objective: Build packages and special offers to entice visitors to experience the multitude of offerings in The Woodlands including shopping, dining, cultural exhibits, performing arts and outdoor activities.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: staff will evaluate process for this objective.
  • CVB Efforts
    • Objective: Partner with restaurants, hotels, retailers and attractions to increase awareness of CVB efforts which will provide content and information for partners to promote what is happening in The Woodlands to encourage overnight stay to potential visitors.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Hosted Marketing Committee Meeting in February and discussed upcoming Brand Development research, travel writer pitches and received updates from committee members.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Reevaluate Connections meeting series.
    • Objective: Strengthen advocacy efforts within the community for the travel industry.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Continued membership with Texas Travel Industry Association and Texas Association of CVBs to increase awareness of issues affecting the travel industry. The Brand Development Manager and the Convention Development Manager attended the TTIA Unity Dinner which gives CVBs and opportunity to network with legislators and discuss import travel and tourism topics.
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Participation in National Travel and Tourism Week.
    • Objective: Invest in education opportunities to expand the knowledge and skills in the tourism industry for staff.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Brand Development Manager and Marketing Specialist Attended TACVB Mid-Winter educational conference in Beaumont, TX. Additionally, Brand Development Manager and Convention Development Manager attended a seminar on packaging and special offers hosted by the Greater Houston CVB.
    • Objective: Garner support of The Woodlands CVB Board of Directors for proposed initiatives.
      • Hosted 4 CVB Board of Director Meetings.
  • Special Events
    • Objective: Sponsor special events and programs which show a correlation in increased hotel occupancy.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Generated specific webpages, news releases and social media content for a variety of special event and programs in The Woodlands. Promotions included: Holidays in The Woodlands (Ice Rink), Valentine’s Day weekend, The Woodlands Marathon, Spring Break, and Easter.
  • Research & Reporting
    • Objective: Use this fiscal year to define key metrics to benchmark future success and growth opportunities regarding awareness and visitation to the destination.
      • Quarter 1 Action: Developing key performance indicators that represent the CVB’s performance activity. Ex: Smith Travel Research report to analyze Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT), ADR, and  RevPAR; Sales Tax Evaluation; Economic Impact; Brand Awareness Studies; and other ongoing Insights and Trend Reporting.
    • Objective: Determine visitor origin and key travel planning and booking periods from current audience segments, and identify travel segments that represent the most potential for the destination
      • Quarter 2 Forecast: Determine plan for future study.
RECOMMENDATION:
Report only.
Attachments
2016 CVB Media Plan
Chronicles of Frivolity Stats
Hi Sugarplum Stats


    

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