How to spend more than $100,000 in rollover funds consumed the agenda during the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee’s meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 4, with members and consultants debating the merits of allocating the funds totaling $116,310. The consensus supported an offseason push.
In an attempt to drive more tourists to the beach and into its hotels during the sparse tourism months of January and February, most of the funds will be used to promote Wrightsville Beach in online and print media in those months. For digital ads, the WBMAC agreed to allocated $12,000 to be used for weather triggered ads during those months. These ads would be implemented when a weather forecast for a weekend shows mild temperatures and sunny skies to entice potential visitors from the region to take full advantage of the balmy weather at the beach.
Another online advertising strategy, which will receive $5,000 in funding from the rollover dollars, are promotions on YouTube that would direct viewers to Wrightsville Beach’s YouTube channel. These ads will appear before the viewer’s requested video starts, said Clean Design media director Tom Hickey, who explained that the videos would be directly triggered if the content of the video the viewer searched for was similar to the ads’ target demographics.
In comparison to the more than $50,000 to be spent on online ad placement, only $5,000 was budgeted for increasing the size of print advertisements in Our State and Southern Living from sixth page ads to third page ads. However, Shawn Braden, the New Hanover County’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Executive Vice President of Marketing, said there was already funding for print ads in addition to the percentage from the rollover funds.
One new advertising tactic the WBMAC was hopeful would attract more tourists during the target months of January through March, is the use of winter sweepstakes and promotions. For these sweepstakes, WBMAC member Sue Bullock suggested tying a hotel booking to a chance to win a nice gift from an area merchant. One example that many of the WBMAC members agreed on revolved around Valentine’s Day and entering couples that book rooms into drawings to win things like jewelry or a set of luxury his and her watches. Instead of using the $3,000 budgeted for the sweepstakes cost, the WBMAC agreed to use those funds to acquire the gift that would headline the room package. Bullock said she felt confident the WBMAC could leverage the $3,000 to buy a $9,000 product that would draw the attention desired.
In further support of shoulder season tourism, WBMAC chairman Jason St. Clair read a resolution he wanted the committee to submit to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen about the merits of the shoulder season events that take place on the island. In his resolution, St. Clair noted events like the PPD Beach2Battleship Iron Distance Triathlon, the Cold Stroke Classic and the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon bring in important revenue for the beach and its businesses.
BOA liaison, Alderman Darryl Mills said the board does realize the importance of these events. He said there have been more complaints to the town from property owners about the size of some of these events and the traffic they bring. In response, Bullock noted the closure of two lanes on the Heide Trask Drawbridge has exacerbated everyone’s frustrations with traffic around the town this year, not just beach residents.