CAPC partners with chamber on Summer Fun co-op

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission are working on a partnership to encourage families to spend their summer vacation in town.

At a special called meeting Wednesday, April 24, the commission voted to spend $10,000 on the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce's Summer Fun digital marketing campaign. Damon Henke, interim director of the chamber, said the initiative is a cooperative effort between the CAPC, chamber and lodging, restaurant and attraction partners.

The CAPC would put forward $10,000 for the digital marketing, Henke said, and the chamber would work with business partners to raise $5,000 to pay social media influencers to promote Eureka Springs. Rick Bright, interim director of the CAPC, said it wouldn't be a problem to find the money in the commission's budget.

"Last year, we budgeted $20,000 for special events ads," Bright said. "Well, that's already been brought through the regular print budget, so we actually have the money we can move from special ads."

Commissioner Susan Harman asked Henke how soon he'd like to get the campaign going, and Henke said he wants to kick it off as soon as possible.

"The whole point of this is summer vacations, so the clock's ticking," Henke said. "You could do it at the end of June, but our real value of doing it is decreasing as we go further into the season."

Henke said the campaign would run for four weeks in May, with influencers coming to town to write blogs during that time.

"They'd turn that into usable social media, and it still hits early in the summer," Henke said. "As far as the digital marketing goes, obviously it'll just be a matter of days to get that launched. There's two parts to this campaign."

He continued, "One's the $10,000 digital. That's pretty easy to execute, because we already have players in digital marketing. The other is the $5,000 influencer part. "

Influencers are people with large social media followings, Henke said, who write about their experiences from a personal standpoint. Commission chairwoman Carol Wright said she looked up how much influencers charge, and it's about $2,000 per social media post.

"An influencer will have an excessive amount of reach," Henke said.

The landing page is a critical part of the digital marketing campaign, Henke said, and will feature a video promoting summer activities in Eureka Springs. Henke said he'd like to use an existing promotional video and showed a clip from the commission's Made in Eureka Springs campaign from last year.

"We want to show something that show us as a planned vacation destination," Henke said. "The whole point of that topic isn't to point to any specific entity. It's to paint the whole town as a vacation destination. "

The businesses that partner with the campaign, Henke said, would have their information listed on the landing page beneath the video. Bright said it's OK for the businesses to be featured so long as they're paying for the ad.

“This is about the destination. At the bottom, it says, 'For all attractions and lodging click here,' " Henke said, "which is just going to go over to Everybody's included in that."

Harman asked how the chamber will collect information from the campaign to continue promoting Eureka Springs in the future.

"There's always an opportunity for someone to give you contact information, regardless of how it's worded," Harman said.

There will be a contest for lodging, Henke said, and those who sign up will be required to use their email addresses. Wright said they'd find a way to use the information to their advantage.

"We'll figure out some way of getting that information in the time constraints we have," Wright said.

Commissioner Terry McClung asked if it was too late to start the campaign, and Henke said it isn't.

"I think if we don't get started today, we're starting too late," Henke said.

Commissioner James DeVito moved to accept the proposal for the Summer of Fun campaign, and the commission agreed to do so.

The commission's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, at The Auditorium.

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  • Another waste of taxpayer money?

    It’s easy to come up with ideas when your spending someone else’s money. You’d be better off allowing free parking downtown than playing digital games.

    -- Posted by hopsing on Sat, May 4, 2019, at 7:51 AM
  • Hopsing does raise a good point. It’s not our money, however, but the tourists that are being taxed. Even so, if there’s anything Eureka Springs knows how to do its collect taxes. Spending them wisely, however, can be a hit or miss. Most experts seem to agree that digital marketing is a huge element in promotion these days, but if you don’t know how to do it, it’s like anything else…just money down the drain. With all their good intentions (and I do believe they’re truly sincere in their efforts), you could count on half a hand the number of commission and chamber members that have any practical outside experience in marketing and advertising over the past years. Mostly it’s just “something all the tourists tell me” or “we had a study done years ago” or “I’ve been here for years and years and think we should spend a lot of money on this”. I bet commission members would be thrilled to have an experienced source to go to that’s being held to measurable standards. I’ve also heard a few people express (with a straight face) the idea that tourists come just because were such interesting and quirky people and we need to market that. That’s not just silly, but self-delusional to the point of insanity and disregards the wonderful and unique history and architecture of the city, which, among others, is one of its primary draws, it’s greatest potential, and will, hopefully, still be here for years to come. We hear talk constantly about the past heyday of Eureka Springs, but contrary to a few self-important individuals who want you to believe they were greatly responsible for it, most know it was due to the historical popularity of the Passion Play and the tremendous explosion of tourism in Branson and the spillover. Two things we can't expect those results from anymore. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being competitors with Branson rather than benefactors of their marketing dollars. If we don’t have the backbone (and a bit of humility) to go outside of the box we live in and hire an agency with real experience, we shouldn’t even be collecting any tax dollars from the tourists. It’s also important that we know enough to hire an agency that won’t just parrot back what we want to hear, but give us real, unbiased, proven and measurable results. Something we’ve never had other than the measuring of CAPC tax inflow (which can increase or decrease from a few restaurants changing the price of a burger). Otherwise, it would be better to just drop the CAPC tax against tourists and let everyone succeed or fail on their own marketing abilities. If self-described experts were gold, we’d be Fort Knox. Unfortunately, they’re not and we’re not. We must practice a bit of humility, face facts and do what’s best for the city since, like it or not, our prosperity and survival as a city depends on tourism. Without going outside of the box and getting real experience, we’ll eventually run out of dollars to spend anyway.

    -- Posted by outofthebox on Sun, May 5, 2019, at 1:11 PM
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