With the conclusion of the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee’s winter sweepstakes, New Hanover County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Vice President of Marketing Shawn Braden said the campaign yielded a total of 52 room nights booked on the island for the months of January through March.
The total campaign cost around $530 per night booked, or $27,600, including the $3,000 used to acquire a his and her’s set of Tag Hueur watches, which served as the sweepstakes prize. Designed to drive more business to the beach hotels in the offseason, the sweepstakes could not legally require participants to purchase anything to enter the drawing because it did not cost the beneficiary hotels any money. Braden said the winner was from New Jersey and entered the sweepstakes via the Visit Wrightsville Beach Facebook page without booking a room.
Braden said the results of the sweepstakes proved what the CVB’s marketing agencies projected: that the rollover funds used for the campaign were better spent boosting occupancy in the summer months. Blockade Runner Beach Resort director of sales and marketing Jason St. Clair argued that any booked rooms in the offseason were of much more value than the numbers suggested.
Some of the other WBMAC representatives from hotel properties agreed and French/West/Vaughan group account director Leah Knepper suggested if another similar campaign occurs in the future, that the sweepstakes begin in February instead of January. The likelihood of anyone travelling to a non-tropical destination increases further away from the holidays, Knepper said.
For fiscal year 2013-14, Knepper said her agency is proposing an increase in the social media budget from 3.2 percent to 5.6 percent of the total proposed $238,404 marketing budget. Knepper said the increase was recommended due to the growth in the town’s social media presence in the past year and to keep up with surrounding coastal destinations like the Outer Banks and the Crystal Coast.
The focus of the town’s social media efforts should remain in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, Knepper said, adding that new social media tactics would include: engaging local Wrightsville Beach “experts” for unique stories; encouraging the Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce to engage in the town’s social media outlets; and utilizing CVB marketing manager Jodi Hardee to add a layer of local content to the town’s Twitter and Facebook by posting on everyday happenings around Wrightsville Beach.
For the media portion of the town’s marketing budget, Clean Design marketing director Tom Hickey said he would like to increase the budget by 5 percent.
One increase would support a print media buy with Media Networks, Inc., a print marketing agency that offers local full-page advertising in a package of national magazines circulated in whatever geographical region the advertiser desires. The buy would cost around $15,000 to $20,000 for the full-page ad for a month in a wide range of national publications that circulate in the Raleigh-Durham area like Country Living, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Real Simple and This Old House, Hickey said.
A majority of the WBMAC supported this idea and Braden said she would continue to refine the town’s marketing budget for the WBMAC’s next meeting in May.