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Armstrong: 'Visit DeKalb County' videos hit 100,000 views

In 2017, the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s seasonal videos promoted on social media were viewed approximately 100,000 times. Yes, you read that correctly, 100,000 views! That’s a lot of eyes looking into making DeKalb County their travel destination, which in turn generates substantial economic impact for our region.

Visitor spending in DeKalb County grew by $98.8 million in 2017, which is an increase of 5.5 percent from the previous year. That is a significant accomplishment that we are very proud of!

Our marketing efforts are responsible for keeping DeKalb County top of mind. The bureau’s mission statement is: “To generate economic impact and promote DeKalb County as a premier destination for business and leisure travel.” To fulfill the requirement of the Illinois Office of Tourism, our promotional, advertising and marketing endeavors are focused on 50 miles outside the bureau’s region.

In keeping with the mission and implementing this strategy, we attract visitors, new dollars and new businesses to the county.

We connect with visitors through our social media outlets (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) our website, seasonal promotional videos, print advertising, print materials, emails, phone inquiries and visitor guide distribution.

More than 69,000 marketing pieces were distributed to visitors by our bureau in the first quarter.

This total includes; DeKalb County CVB visitor guides, Bold Spirits brochures, our museums and history centers brochure, as well as four unique rack cards that promote specific visitor niche markets.

These countywide promotional pieces are available for visitors at nine Tourist Information Centers throughout the state, four tollway oasis visitor kiosks, and at a wide variety of suburban hotels and attractions across Illinois and the quad cities.

As part of our overall social media marketing strategy we normally place up to three Facebook ads per month.

These digital ads have an average click-through rate between 3 percent to 4 percent, which exceeds the industry’s standard rate of 1 percent. One of our September campaign ads focused on promoting a link to our autumn video. More than 17,000 potential visitors clicked on the link and viewed the video. Video is king!

Search Engine Optimization is another important element of our marketing strategy. SEO is a powerful tool for online success.

Why is this important? Because when people are searching online to plan a trip, look for events and get travel information, we want them to see “Visit DeKalb County” as a top choice and click through to our website.

Traditional print advertising is still a valuable portion of our overall marketing plan. Print ads run in various publications, including “Northwest Quarterly,” “Neighborhood Tourist,” “Midwest Living” and “Travel Illinois.”

We are continuously working to develop successful marketing strategies on all platforms to attract more visitors to DeKalb County.

A perfect example of this is the bureau’s Bold Spirits of DeKalb County co-op marketing partnership with five Bold Spirits partners: Whiskey Acres, Waterman Winery, Jonamac Orchard, Prairie State Winery and Forge Brewhouse.

We unveiled our new passport on Aug. 11 at the Bold Spirits Tasting event held at Jonamac Orchard. The passport entices people to visit each Bold Spirits location. When their passport is filled with all five stamps (within one year), they receive a complimentary gift.

The Bold Spirits co-op will draw more tour groups and other visitors to leave their economic footprint in DeKalb County.

A day trip with a bus load of 50 generates an average of $2,000 for the local economy. An overnight trip averages between $3,500 to $5,000, depending on the itinerary.

Whiskey Acres recently shared that a tour bus of 50 gave them a “heads up” to say that they would be getting the fifth stamp on their passports at Whiskey Acres on Oct. 13. The group was composed of women ages 24 to 60-something who were excited to celebrate collecting all five stamps!

Our thanks to everyone who enjoys this new, fun program. Welcome to our family of Bold Spirits of DeKalb County!

We invite you to take a in-depth look at more of the highlights and accomplishments of the DeKalb County CVB’s marketing efforts, which helped grow visitor spending in DeKalb County to $98.8 million in 2017:

Until next time. Safe travels.

• Debbie Armstrong is executive director of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

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