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Marketing Action Plan Helped CVB Ease Tourism Fall Off

12/21/2009 - Unlike the shock of the 911 terrorist attacks that sent visitor levels plummeting here and elsewhere, Savannah saw this year’s tourism slump coming and planned accordingly.

As a result, visitor numbers dipped only slightly from the record-setting levels of 2008 and 2007.  “I think we made some wise strategic marketing decisions at the beginning of the year,” said Joseph Marinelli, president of the Savannah Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“We concentrated our leisure advertising in the larger cities within a four-hours drive.” These included Charleston, Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Jacksonville and Orlando in Florida, he said.

The CVB also created a cooperative partnership with other high-profile destinations including Charleston, Hilton Head Island, S.C., St. Simons Island and Ameila Island, Fla.

“The third piece,” Marinelli said, “was a heavy concentration with online marketing. … The results speak for themselves.

The message
Regardless of the medium used, the message was enhanced by Savannah’s reputation as “one of the best-value propositions of any major tourism destination in this country,” Marinelli noted.

Conventions and meetings this year were “flat to what we’ve seen last the two years,” the CVB chief said. “Some of the large conventions performed well. Others did not perform as well.”

He said associations should continue to be a strong part of the meetings business. Their charters, he noted, require them to meet at least annually.

“We have a very aggressive convention sales effort, which includes attending national trade shows and advertising in the highest-profile trade publications.

“But most importantly, our goal in 2010 will be to get more prospects to visit and stav, so they can experience it first-hand.”

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