Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County tourism bureau refurbishing marketing efforts

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission is sharpening its tools in preparation for the busy season.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors will flock to the beaches at the Indiana Dunes in the next few months while the PCCRVC will re-launch its campaign to lure tourists away from the Lake Michigan shoreline and experience the other attractions Porter County has to offer.

PCCRVC Assistant Director Christine Livingston said the tourism bureau will take a “holistic” approach in marketing the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail using a variety of print and social media outlets and a series of new videos on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website showcasing different communities.

New trail guides and rack cards are being printed for Beyond the Beach in conjunction with the new IDT official activity guide which was released just recently.

During Thursday’s board meeting, members Jesse Harper and President Mitch Peters inquired as to which demographics the PCCRVC should focus its marketing to following a presentation on a marketing study done by Nichols Tourism Group.

According to Mitch Nichols, president of Nichols Tourism Group, Porter County is particularly attractive to families with children younger than ten years old which make up 13 percent of the tourist population. That number is almost double compared with the average of other counties in Northern Indiana, Nichols said.

The trend is similar in younger adults and groups traveling with children of different ages.

With that, Porter County does have a lower percentage of mature and retired guests compared to other counties.

Livingston said having both printed and online multimedia, the PCCRVC can reach both demographics, young and old.

The Nichols’ study also examined how visitors are experiencing destinations and what role the PCCRVC is playing in “motivating” potential visitors. The survey gathered about 1,500 different responses.

Almost 93 percent of visitors remember seeing materials put out by the PCCRVC and 57 percent of the visitors reported traveling to destinations after being “engaged” in the material. Those figures are slightly higher than the other counties studied in Northern Indiana, Nichols said.

One point where the county’s percentage was lower than the average shows that 55 percent of repeat visitors used PCCRVC’s resources while the average for Northern Indiana counties was 67 percent of visitors using their county tourism bureau’s respective resources.

Nichols explained that this infers that many of those visitors coming to the dunes or Porter County feel like “they already know the area” and therefore don’t look at promotional materials. However, the data also indicates that there is a higher proportion of first time visitors who are referencing it.

Nichols suggested that the PCCRVC can work on finding ways to help returning visitors understand there are more destinations they could explore.

Other highlights in Nichols’ report include Porter County has higher numbers of day trippers (28 percent of visitors), persons visiting family members (23 percent), and those who are seeking forms of outdoor recreation such as birdwatching, hiking, fishing and biking (55 percent).

Nichols said visitors spend about 75 percent of their stay in Porter County. Roughly 13 percent will travel to Amish Country in Elkhart County and 6 percent make their way to attractions in neighboring LaPorte County.

Following the Dunes as the top related attraction, Nichols said 27 percent of visitors in the county find themselves at outlet shopping malls while 20 percent are utilizing the Beyond the Beach trail.

Nichols lastly pointed out some good news for the PCCRVC coming out of the survey. When asked how important they felt the agency was in helping plan a trip, 52 percent of visitors said they felt it was important and an additional 12 percent agreed that it was essential.

“You’re playing a fundamental role in that travel process,” Nichols told the board. He added that the PCCRVC should share the data with County officials to demonstrate the impact it is having.

“I think this is a particularly powerful story here.”

In other business:

-- The board’s attorney David Hollenbeck said the County Attorney is working on a rental policy for the visitor’s center that would be part of a larger document of rental policies for county-owned properties. Peters encouraged the PCCRVC members appointed by the County Commissioners to see if they could help speed up the process.

-- Peters said he was proud to report that the ROSE awards luncheon was “a festive event” and encouraged PCCRVC members to attend next year as it will be held in Porter County. PCCRVC Promotions Director Ken Kosky said the award recognition helps build business for honorees.

-- The board viewed a new four and half minute video that was recently posted on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website highlighting local attractions such as the 49er Drive In and the new Seven Peaks Waterpark in Porter, whose grand opening is this Memorial Day weekend. Board members remarked positively on the video’s production value.

-- The first meeting for the newly formed County Sports Cabinet will be at the Visitor Center next Thursday at 3:30 p.m.

 

Posted 5/17/2013