To kick off the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee’s meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13, Shawn Braden, the executive vice president of marketing for the New Hanover County Convention and Visitors Bureau, reported that the Room Occupancy Tax collection rate for Wrightsville Beach was up by 12 percent in August and 25.2 percent in September. For the overall fiscal and calendar years, Braden reported the ROT collection rate for Wrightsville Beach was up 1.7 percent and 7.7 percent, respectively.
After committee member Sue Bulluck inquired as to whether the September rate was higher than August, fellow committee member and Holiday Inn Resort general manager Anne Marie Hartman recalled that the threat of Hurricane Isaac caused many tourists to cancel their reservations.
Stephanie Perri, account manager with the CVB’s marketing firm, Clean Design, also presented a report on the outcome of the town’s fall marketing campaign. Clean Design’s major target areas for Wrightsville Beach are the Triangle, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Fayetteville. The firm measures the success of the campaign based on ad impressions, URL traffic, social media interactions and traffic to the CVB portal website for Wilmington and beaches.com.
From July 1 through Oct. 31, Clean Design spent $110,213 on media buys as compared to $83,150 for the same period in 2011. Of that total, 48 percent was spent on online ads, 22 percent on television, 14 percent on print, 11 percent on radio, 3 percent on mobile platforms and 2 percent on Facebook. From those media buys, around 25 million ad impressions (any single time an ad is displayed) were generated, 81 percent of which was from online sources and 10 percent from print. Inquiries are another way marketing firms measure the success of ad campaigns and can originate from clicking on an online ad, or calling a specific number or visiting a specific URL attached to print ads. The total number of inquires was down from last year for July through October, dropping from 49,825 in 2011 to 48,291 in 2012.
The CVB, Clean Design and French, West, Vaughan — the CVB’s public relations and social media agency — also recommended how the town of Wrightsville Beach could use the available $116,310 in FY 2012-13 rollover marketing funds. Of the rollover funds, it was recommended that $47,900 be spent on digital media buys, $15,250 on print media buys and $8,000 on winter promotions. After reviewing the recommendations, a majority of the committee members suggested moving around some of the funds from items like a half page ad in Southern Living for $10,250 and $2,500 to start an Instagram page, to advertising outlets that would provide more returns.
Since November has been slow for the hotels and rentals, the committee members from those establishments recommended using the rollover funds to increase advertising in January and February to build momentum moving into the spring.