In a year that saw a sharp decrease in travel due to a global health crisis, the Spencer County Visitors Bureau was able to increase pageviews and visitor sessions on its two destination websites. The increases were due in large part to a quick shift in marketing priorities when the State of Indiana shut down in early 2020.
The nonprofit organization pivoted from paid advertising to organic efforts using content and visuals that promoted outdoor recreation, local dining options, and safe activities during the pandemic.
This shift contributed to an average increase of 18% in pageviews to its two websites. Comparing 30 destination marketing organizations in Indiana, the Spencer County Visitors Bureau was one of seven organizations to see an increase in website sessions compared to 2019.
Spencer County Visitors Bureau’s 2020 highlights include:
- An “Eat Local” campaign touted delivery options and hours of operation to support local restaurants.
- In coordination with Lincolnland Economic Development Corporation, the Spencer County Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Spencer County Community Foundation, the Visitors Bureau created a landing page to share resources for Spencer County businesses to find funding and assistance.
- Strategic content featured the many outdoor recreation opportunities in Spencer County for regional families to experience safely.
- During National Travel and Tourism Week and Visit Indiana Week, stories, videos, and graphics praised local hospitality employees to spotlight the tourism industry.
- $8,000 in grants were distributed in early 2020 to three businesses to spur new tourism events in Spencer County. Although these tourism events were canceled in 2020, the events are being planned for 2021 and 2022.
2020 gave the Spencer County Visitors Bureau an opportunity to speak to a local audience. Staff updated flyers with hours of operation for restaurants and tourism businesses in Spencer County regularly. This information gave local residents updates on what was open at the time, delivery options, and ways to support local businesses.
“During the pandemic, the restaurant industry was hit very hard,” says Tom Hurst, co-owner of The Chateau in Mariah Hill. “Those of us in Spencer County were – and still are – very fortunate to have the resources the visitors bureau provided to be able to reach out to the community and make them aware of what was happening in our businesses.”
The Spencer County Convention Recreation and Visitors Commission members are appointed by the Spencer County Commissioners, Spencer County Council, and the county’s largest municipality. The same members make up the board for the Spencer County Visitors Bureau Inc.
2021 board members are Ashley Blankenbaker (president) of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Faye Hedinger (vice president) of Monkey Hollow Winery and Distillery, Cheyenne Knox (secretary) of Lincoln State Park, Natalie Koch (treasurer) of Santa Claus Museum & Village, Nancy Kaiser of Lincoln Pioneer Village & Museum, Kayla Morris of Pepper’s Ridge Winery, and Karin Gries of Lincoln Pines Lakefront Resort.
The Spencer County Visitors Bureau encourages guests to stay overnight and provides a variety of resources about local attractions, shops, and restaurants.