Tourism Team Promotes Craft Your Own Adventure
We are thrilled the Area Development Partnership featured us on the spring issue of The Navigator. Read below to find out how the VisitHattiesburg team is promoting tourism!
An innovative and artistic hub of the Gulf South, Hattiesburg has emerged as a premier visitor destination with an impressive sense of place for business and leisure travelers. The city is rapidly becoming an event, history, live music, outdoor attraction and culinary destination for millennials and baby boomers. During the last year, the Hattiesburg Tourism Commission (VisitHATTIESBURG) has successfully executed a re-branding of Hattiesburg, focusing on this edgy, welcoming, and diverse culture.
During 2017, the VisitHBURG team fully revamped its entire online presence, using the latest marketing trends and digital platforms to modernize and streamline its brand. The most notable success of this plan was a complete overhaul of its traditional website (VisitHBURG.org) into a virtual visitors center. Featuring local events, attractions, restaurants, hotels, blogs, and themed itineraries, the site was designed specifically with travelers in mind, ensuring ease of access on mobile devices. Additionally, the team increased its social media engagement, on Facebook and Instagram with generated content.
“Destination marketing is a highly competitive industry, and our HBURG team is focused on strengthening and expanding our sales and marketing efforts to best grow Hattiesburg’s tourism economy,” Marlo Dorsey, executive director of VisitHATTIESBURG, said.
VisitHBURG also created a two-minute video that authentically showcases the city’s assets, including its culinary scene, music, outdoor recreation, attractions, meeting venues, and hotels. The video promotes Hattiesburg to visitors in targeted markets of surrounding states.
In addition to VisitHATTIESBURG’s digital campaign, the organization upgraded its informational collateral for consistent, vivid presentation at tradeshows, welcome centers, and locally to inform visitors and residents about HBURG.
With so many offerings in Hattiesburg from Downtown to Midtown to West HBURG, VisitHBURG neatly packaged these assets in its new sales kit for conferences, tournaments, and large-scale visitor events.
To attract more group tours and travel writers, the team created a portfolio of amenities offered, including a listing of red carpet services, eight HBURG hotspots, top five reasons to bring a group to Hattiesburg, and four themed itineraries, with more being developed.
“Partnerships strengthen the team’s reach and enhance the knowledge base of all that the Hattiesburg community has to offer. Our hotel partners are extremely important to us, as they host our overnight guests 365 days a year. We are 100% committed to sharing Hattiesburg’s value as a visitor destination to keep our hotels filled with both business and leisure travelers,” Dorsey said.
VisitHBURG is also focusing on more collaboration with its area partners in 2018 by establishing a Hotel & Hospitality Association.
“It’s our responsibility to showcase our community’s numerous tourism assets, and we greatly value our relationships with our hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, and tourism attractions. When we collaborate, we all become more engaged and informed brand ambassadors for our community,” Frank James, hotel industry representative and Hattiesburg Tourism Commission chair, said.
MISSISSIPPI'S 3RD MOST VISITED CITY
Today’s travelers live in a dynamic, fast-pasted environment where accurate, readily available facts and details are vital to making travel plans for destinations. The most successful destination marketing organizations and convention and visitors bureaus provide the proper balance of community assets and user-friendly interfaces for information sharing. VisitHBURG’s ultimate goal is to be a comprehensive travel resource for today’s tourists to use and for the future of travel.
Hattiesburg hosted more than 1.8 million business and leisure travelers in 2016, making it the third most visited city in
Mississippi. While the State’s overall tourism industry has seen gradual growth, HBURG is swiftly increasing as the city provides more reasons to visit to travelers.
Combined with VisitHBURG’s remodeled social media campaign, the new website and video won the award for Best Overall Promotional Campaign at the 2017 Mississippi Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Additionally, Hattiesburg was named a top 25-holiday shopping destination in the U.S. by Expedia.
However, VisitHBURG’s greatest achievement was recognized through the double-digit growth in hotel revenue and occupancy rates in its local hotel sector, which was a result of a growing visitor market, strong partnerships, and a multi-state digital outreach campaign organized and funded by VisitHBURG. In addition to attracting a record number of visitors, this revenue level brought real dollars into the local economy, creating more hospitality jobs for residents. In 2018, Hattiesburg’s number of hotel rooms available to travelers will increase by more than 200 with two new hotels opening by summer.
To fully realize Hattiesburg’s true potential as a visitor destination, the team at VisitHBURG must ensure its continued commitment to effective growth strategies in a competitive marketing environment. Overall, the team is pleased with the results of 2017, looking forward to more years of growth and prosperity for the Hattiesburg community.