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Start Local, Then the Tourists Will Come: Tips for CVBs on Attracting the Masses
Virtually all Convention and Visitor Bureaus (CVB), Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO) and tourism organizations share a common goal; to increase area revenue through travel and tourism for their respective destinations. And for good reason. A 2011 survey conducted by Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, showed that almost 20% of group hotel room night demand in the U.S. comes through CVB sales channels.
It’s up to these organizations to bring in tourists, and their wallets, to town. But what happens when your CVB isn’t in a well-known area? Smaller CVBs often struggle for attention from larger markets and popular destination cities.
The key to attracting visitors and ultimately gaining more revenue, is to first target and gain the attention of locals by promoting local events online. Once your area is established as a “go-to” destination for awesome events, visitors will take notice.
Let’s take a look at a few key strategies for creating local buzz online to ultimately attract more visitors.
We live in a culture that’s entrenched in social media. All too often CVBs rely on their own Facebook posts and tweets to spread the word about local events. While this is important, a social layer should also be added to the CVB website itself. For instance, allowing site visitors to automatically share articles and event postings directly from the site allows your community to market your content for you.
Consider adding the ability for site visitors to create a user profile within your site. That way they can easily share content and connect with other users to create a community around your content, drastically increasing the awareness of your local events. But don’t forget, adding a call to action for users is key.
As the scope and reach of your event content increases through these social channels, so does the attendance of the events themselves, too.
Good Looks Matter
All too often, smaller CVBs fail to realize the impact of having less than interesting or eye-catching content on an outdated and unattractive web site. This lack of quality branding and aesthetics can diminish the reputation of your destination. Not to mention it creates apathy in the local community. If they don’t see you putting in the effort, they won’t bother either.
To be seen as a viable and exciting area, a CVB should always have a modern, visually attractive web site. Every landing page should be clean, easy to navigate and display a palatable color scheme. Event content should be at the forefront, posted in multiple areas of the site and highlighted on the homepage through widgets that re-direct to the main events page. As a visually attractive website puts event content in the forefront, intrigue is enhanced.
Check out Destination Salem as an example.
Want to make your destination the next hot spot? Download How Online Calendars Can Promote and Enliven Your City’s Events.
At the heart of every CVB are the relationships with local organizations that host local events. Music venues, art councils, sports arenas, etc. should have their events highlighted in an interesting and dynamic way for locals to take notice. CVBs should consider including a “featured” section to promote large-scale events that they want users to take notice of immediately.
CVBs may also want to consider a “pay-for-post” method of event display, by charging organizations to promote their events in a key area of the site or on related areas of the web. This can create a healthy competition amongst event hosts and generate greater quality events.