Recently my husband and I undertook our first move in seventeen years. The move itself was not substantial in mileage, however the fact that we had almost two decades worth of accumulated “stuff” was rather daunting. In managing the logistics, the timing of the move and a large list of tasks had to be coordinated before we could call it a success. Help was required for completion; from choosing the seasoned and knowledgeable realtor down to selecting the right moving company, the singular assistance of many added up to one big accomplishment.
Recently the Charlotte region undertook its own massive effort in hosting the Democratic National Convention (DNC). As a non-partisan organization, VLN’s main objective was to bring as much visitor spending to our area as possible. Since the DNC Committee controlled many facets including a large portion of hotel placements, we focused on those initiatives that we could execute in reaching potential consumers.
We implemented a DNC mini-site within VisitLakeNorman.org immediately following the February 2011 announcement providing general info, local vendor services, research from previous conventions, plus breaking news, weekly updates, and events. We used terms for site optimization resulting in VLN occupying the top spots in key DNC online searches, and developed a trip builder for online itinerary development with a dedicated DNC section. We placed digital ads with our media partners to drive awareness of possible opportunities to local businesses. We worked with 21 restaurants to secure discounts that we called “DNC Dining Deals” that we marketed via online, social and traditional media, flyers at hotels, and at on-site locations.
The staff at VLN hand-delivered visitor kits to our 19 hotels with local info featuring dining, shopping and area attractions. We supplied them with maps showcasing themed tours featuring shopping, arts, and history in our charming towns, and a decal to be placed in every sleeping room with a QR code directing visitors to mobile friendly local info. We were on-site for the National Marine Manufacturers Association Event at Peninsula Yacht Club connecting face to face with the 100 delegates and political officials in attendance, and helped secure local service providers for the event such as Ragin’ Uptown.
We placed a full page ad in DNC official program, plus ads in additional guides such as Visit Charlotte and Visit N.C. which were distributed to attendees. We ran ads on five movie screens in uptown next to the arena and convention center as well as on two I-77 billboards below exit 18. Our ambassadors assisted our visitors with the most up-to-date inventory still available at our hotels along with providing them with information for the surrounding restaurants, attractions and shopping venues.
We employed a great many methods, formats, and services to provide DNC guests with the resources needed to locate and utilize local assets. “The DNC was a game changer for the region”, states Vinay Patel, President and CEO of SREE Hospitality. “Our hotels had reached their capacity from the DNC. Looking back on history of last September, our occupancy was up 150%.” We are the “can do” region delivering southern hospitality to the footprint of this convention. In reflecting back to an article I read last month, I remember reading perseverance is not one long race; it is many short races one after another. We engage in some giant undertakings in bringing events to the area, but it is the small efforts we consistently provide that can bring a huge impact.