Beach Promo Adds Towns For 03

December 13, 2002
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A joint venture between the state and travel promoters to market destination communities along Lake Michigan will expand next year with additional participation and a second target market.

Year two of the "Beachtowns" campaign will have eight to 10 participating communities — up from six last year — and add a fall print advertising blitz in the key Chicago market, Travel Michigan Director George Zimmerman said.

Participating communities will put $10,000 toward the campaign, up from $7,000 last year. Travel Michigan will match the local funding to market the shoreline to travelers in Indianapolis and Chicago in 2003, Zimmerman said.

Data indicates the promotion helped generate additional interest in the shoreline from Indiana for participating shoreline communities. One measure is the Beachtowns section on the Travel Michigan Web site, which generated 75,000 user sessions last year. More than 32,000 of those users clicked through to a site operated by participating visitors bureaus to gain information about attractions and destinations.

"It was all bright spots," Zimmerman said of Beachtowns' first year. "It was a big success for everybody. At all levels, everybody recorded growth."

In the inaugural Lake Michigan shoreline promotion, Travel Michigan matched $42,000 in local contributions to pay for an $84,000 advertising blitz that targeted the Indianapolis market during the spring and summer on behalf of six destination communities. First-year participants in Beachtowns included Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Ludington, Mackinaw City and St. Joseph.

Newcomers enlisting in the 2003 promotion include Saugatuck and New Buffalo, and possibly South Haven, Zimmerman said.

After sitting out the first year of Beachtowns, the Saugatuck-Douglas Visitors Bureau opted in to the promotion for 2003 because of the addition of Chicago, a key target market for Saugatuck, Executive Director Felicia Fairchild said.

"This is an alliance of lakeshore communities that makes sense to us from a regional marketing standpoint," Fairchild said.

Beachtowns is the result of a strategy that Zimmerman brought to Travel Michigan after he became the agency's director in August 2001. With limited financial resources and with funding levels expected to remain stagnant or decrease in the future, he formulated joint public/private-sector ventures to leverage available funding levels for marketing campaigns designed for specific destinations or regions to promote Michigan's $11.5 billion tourism industry.

Travel promoters involved in Beachtowns view the promotion as a success and welcome the state's broader strategy change toward partnerships.

"It's a promotion that works really well for us," said Marci Cisneros, executive director of the Grand Haven-Spring Lake Visitors Bureau. "I hope to see other things spawned from that."

Travel Michigan in 2002 had three marketing partnerships — Beachtowns, plus promotions for Detroit and Mackinac Island — that generated $330,000 for targeted advertising efforts. In 2003, Zimmerman anticipates nine separate partnerships with a collective funding of $930,000.

"How do we keep generating results with either flat or falling marketing dollars?" Zimmerman asked. "Partnerships are one of the ways we are going to keep that going."

Among the new partnerships are the "Michigan's West Coast" campaign spearheaded by the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau (a promotion bureaus in Holland, Grand Haven and Saugatuck recently withdrew from), Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, and Frankenmuth, Gaylord and northeastern Michigan.      

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