At a meeting on July 25, the City Advertising and Promotion Commission (CAPC) discussed a range of plans for the upcoming year.
The first order of business was a proposal for a month-long Halloween festival presented by Jeremy McGraw. McGraw told the CAPC the festival would bring new life to a city that already embraces Halloween as its second favorite holiday of the year, next to St. Patrick's Day. In the end, however, the commission did not have the funding to support McGraw's vision.
"The CAPC was very receptive to the concept," said McGraw, "but it wasn't in the budget. They gave it a lot of consideration, and they are interested in the festival for 2013, but getting the funding for a 2012 was not a possibility."
"According to CAPC Executive Director Mike Maloney, the proposal would represent a fairly large festival, and from the standpoint of the commission it was just no doable so close to Halloween. We would also have to weigh in the support of the community before we could make a final decision."
The commission also discussed several new marketing strategies for tourism in Eureka. Market specific advertising -- niche marketing -- was heavily discussed.
"Right now Eureka Springs is behind the curve technology-wise, and the commission wants to figure out the best approach for a new strategy," said Maloney. "We want Eureka to have cutting edge technology and use the Internet as an advantage -- time is of the essence here."
According to Maloney, the commission is determined to find ways to constantly get ahead of the competition, and they are developing core marketing strategies to do so. "We already advertise with radio, TV, print, etc.," he said, "and they have proved to be the best resources to accomplish this, but there has been a push to advertise on mobile devices. Right now, 25-percent of the traffic on our site is from mobile devices, and our website isn't developed for mobile users."
The mobile application is a big priority for the commission in 2013, and they are in the process of researching other tourism sites to properly develop content for their website. Presently there isn't anyone in place to develop the content and the commission has not set it up for bid.
Another way the commission plans to market Eureka Springs is through On Demand. Users that are subscribed to On Demand through a cable provider will see content specific advertising for Eureka Springs.
For instance, if a person is watching the Travel Channel, they will see commercials that are specific to travel in Eureka Springs. The viewer would have an option to "find out more" at the punch of a button and this would allow an individual to pull up more information from the website, and also submit electronic requests for information and that access would be instantaneous.
"This product could vary and would be content specific for the channel," said Maloney. "If someone is watching a show about weddings, they could potentially see commercials about wedding venues in town. This is definitely a valuable tool for tourism and destination information."
The commission is already working with a cutting-edge company in Dallas which has had success with similar products around the region. Right now the commission is in the process of determining the best channels to advertise on, and what audience they will market to.
"We already make videos and commercials for the city, and we are trying to incorporate that into the On Demand ads," said Maloney. "If someone is interested, we want them to have the option to see more. This technology would provide core information about users that access the ads, and this could open up more doors as to where the city advertises."
In local business, the commission plans to extend the contract for THE Auditorium for an additional three years. The lease ends in 2012, and Chairman Charlie Ragsdell wants it extended. Maloney is in discussion with Mayor Morris Pate regarding plans to extend the contract.
The next scheduled meeting for the CAPC is Aug. 22, 6 p.m., at City Hall.