Beaufort Chamber intends to track, analyze tourism statistics

emoody@beaufortgazette.comDecember 18, 2012 

The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce has a 2013 marketing plan that's heavy on tracking and analyzing data as a way to bring more visitors to the region.

The chamber is the designated marketing organization for the city of Beaufort and is working with The Brandon Agency on a marketing plan. Chamber representatives presented that plan to City Council on Tuesday night.

The presentation comes on the heels of a downtown advertising presentation Friday by Arnett Muldrow & Associates, sponsored by Main Street Beaufort, USA, which included possible ads and branding strategies.

It is a precursor to a tourism summit a city committee will hold with nonprofits and business people early next year. The Tourism Development Advisory Committee makes recommendations for allocating bed tax money to nonprofits. City Council asked committee chairman Jeff Evans on Tuesday to set a date for the summit and for applying for the grants by the Jan. 8 meeting.

An overarching theme is increased collaboration to use the grants to draw more tourists to the area.

Tourism division director Robb Wells said the chamber intends to use the data to target potential visitors in specific markets. He showed examples of ads in regional publications and shared charts sthat showed how areas such Greenville are successful. Atlanta, he said, is one area from which to pull in more visitors.

Wells said the chamber will work with local nonprofits and event organizers to create effective advertising, and will share the data it mines with organizations.

"We will make sure this group is the go-to group ... and we will collaborate with everyone who is involved in marketing Beaufort," chamber tourism committee chairman Charlie Calvert said. "Make no mistake, our goal is to convert these into heads in beds, customers in restaurant seats, and loyal, repeat customers who will eventually become residents."

Although the city contributes only a portion of the chamber's funding, council member Mike Sutton and Mayor Billy Keyserling want to make sure the chamber markets the city specifically as well as the region.

Council asked the chamber to come up with specific explanations of how groups can collaborate in four key areas -- arts history and culture, events and festivals, the arts, and outdoor recreation -- identified during last winter's tourism summit. Bed tax grant recipients are expected work together.

The summit is a way for the nonprofits to find ways to cooperate, Keyserling said.

"So, the summit is kind of like a dating service for us," Main Street Beaufort executive director LaNelle Fabian said.

"That's exactly what it is, a big singles party, and I want everybody to leave with someone," Keyserling said.

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