Leah Koch, director of communications at Vacation World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Indiana, says the theme park averages about 1 million guests a 12 months.
“Most of them come from Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Illinois and Missouri,” she mentioned. “However we often have households that journey throughout the nation, and even some who journey from different nations, simply to expertise our 4 famend curler coasters.”
Lots of the guests are inside a day’s drive of the theme park.
However the Owensboro-Daviess County Conference & Guests Bureau launched a marketing campaign final 12 months — and is intensifying it this 12 months — to attempt to persuade as a lot of these 1 million company as doable to spend the night time and dine in Owensboro.
In spite of everything, the drive is just a bit over half an hour.
And guests to theme parks in locations like Orlando, Florida, usually journey longer than that to accommodations.
“Owensboro remains to be dealing with tourism challenges and now we have an uphill climb forward of us,” Mark Calitri, CVB president, mentioned final week. “However we’re recognizing the modifications and adapting.”
He mentioned, “One key advertising and marketing initiative now we have Dave Kirk (director of vacation spot administration) specializing in is a collaboration with Vacation World,” he mentioned. “Our accommodations are reporting robust numbers of room nights coming from company visiting the park and we needed to capitalize on this chance.”
Curt Baker is the final supervisor of Townplace Suites in Gateway Commons — the closest Owensboro resort to Vacation World.
“Since coming to the area about 5 years in the past,” he mentioned, “I’ve been immensely impressed with the loyal following that Vacation World has created. I really got here to know the facility mixture that blended Vacation World and Owensboro.”
Extending staysBaker mentioned after he opened the resort in 2019, “I used to be overwhelmed by the variety of folks that had been extending their visits from sooner or later to 2, as they paired a day at Vacation World with one of many native points of interest just like the Bluegrass Music Corridor of Fame & Museum, the Owensboro Riverwalk and sports activities and different occasions.”
He mentioned, “Vacation World acknowledged the good partnership and so they introduced in a digital actuality water experience in November of 2019 to introduce their latest attraction.”
Baker mentioned, “The additional improvement of a two-way relationship between us is a chance that may solely develop and improve the expertise for these of us on either side. We’re extraordinarily lucky to be solely 20 minutes away from this distinctive venue and all that it brings to the world.”
The CVB has rented two billboards close to Vacation World to encourage folks to make the drive.
Calitri mentioned the billboards have 60,000 autos per week passing them.
Final 12 months, when the CVB started engaged on the Vacation World promotion, they known as it “Play in Vacation World, Keep in Owensboro.”
Calitri mentioned, “Resort gross sales and advertising and marketing managers in different cities have even reached out to us after witnessing the success of our Vacation World marketing campaign and counseled us on our artistic efforts throughout this tough time.”
Kirk mentioned final 12 months, “We’re providing cheaper resort charges to individuals who have been to or are going to Vacation World. And we’re working with points of interest to create a package deal for distillery excursions or museum visits whereas they’re right here.”
He mentioned, “Households are visiting smaller cities with plenty of facilities the place they really feel protected to get away for the weekend.”
Final week, Vacation World President Matt Eckert mentioned, “This summer season has the potential to be our greatest but. We’re celebrating 75 years of household enjoyable, and we proceed to listen to and see optimistic indicators that our company can’t wait to get out once more. If that weren’t sufficient, there are tons of households on the market who didn’t have the chance to expertise Cheetah Chase: The World’s First Launched Water Coaster when it opened final 12 months. We will’t wait to introduce them to this thrilling race to the end.”
Calitri mentioned the season-long advertising and marketing marketing campaign collaboration with Vacation World “will make the most of a number of platforms, together with digital promoting, social media advertising and marketing, interviews with theme park influencers and web site promotions.”
David Johnson, a CVB board member, mentioned, “This neighborhood has an opportunity to guide if we’re going to transfer the needle.”
Claude Bacon, vice chairman of the board and vp of gross sales, advertising and marketing and e-commerce for LinGate Hospitality, which operates the Vacation Inn and Courtyard Suites by Marriott in Owensboro, mentioned, “There’s a longer-term strategic strategy. Nonetheless, it’s critically vital that we tackle the areas which have essentially the most instant impression.”
Issues like getting Vacation World guests into native accommodations and eating places.
Johnson mentioned, “Our purpose is to get folks right here spending cash and speed up financial improvement. It includes a imaginative and prescient and creating an surroundings to drive occasions. We wanted to be chasing good cash and bettering the customer expertise.”
As soon as folks cease in Owensboro, Chris Joslin, government director of the Bluegrass Music Corridor of Fame & Museum, mentioned, they’ll discover that “Owensboro has rather a lot to supply guests, together with a stellar riverfront, a word-class distillery that’s a part of the official Kentucky Bourbon Path, a beautiful performing arts middle, museums, and nice eating places and purchasing.”
He mentioned, “I contend that Owensboro knocks the ball out of the park in all these areas, however the actuality is that we compete instantly with different cities our dimension who supply lots of the identical issues. I see the position of the Corridor of Fame as a differentiator, one thing that units Owensboro other than each different metropolis, each nationally and internationally.”
Bacon mentioned: “We should assist new occasions that carry state and nationwide consideration to Owensboro. We’ve got to focus our gross sales efforts in attracting state affiliation conventions and conferences. Bringing new city-wide occasions and filling the Owensboro Conference Middle and sports activities services is a particularly excessive precedence. And we should uncover new alternatives for our indoor sports activities market. That’s the largest alternative.”
Calitri mentioned this summer season the town has misplaced the Kentucky United Methodist Church annual convention and the OMG!con conference, which might have introduced greater than 1,000 folks every to city.
“With the vaccines ramping up, the stage is ready to mount one of many biggest comebacks in 2021 and 2022,” he mentioned. “We’re working strategically with our tourism stakeholders to carry new occasions to city and creating new advertising and marketing methods geared toward bringing in new teams of individuals.”
The Midwest Open Geocaching Journey on Memorial Day weekend is predicted to carry 1,200 or so folks from a minimum of 17 states to city.
ROMP has been moved from June to September this 12 months.
However a minimum of it’s nonetheless on the schedule.
“ROMP is vital to our neighborhood’s id as Owensboro continues to carve out a repute because the Bluegrass Music Capital of The World,” Joslin mentioned. “We can be making some huge announcement quickly for the brand new date in September. We’ve obtained some thrilling issues to announce.”
The bluegrass competition often brings greater than 25,000 folks to city.
And The Nice Race is slated to roll into city on June 23 with 120 classic automobiles from Japan, England, Germany, Canada, and everywhere in the United States.
Jeff Stumb, the occasion director, mentioned, “When the Nice Race pulls right into a metropolis, it turns into an instantaneous competition. Two years in the past, we had a few in a single day stops with greater than 10,000 spectators.”
Brian Smith, CVB board chairman, mentioned, “This neighborhood is in the best place to thrive sooner or later, if now we have the braveness to behave. In enterprise, the purchasers will inform us what we have to do. We have to hearken to the shopper and put together to behave. Our buyer is telling us what to do.”
Calitri mentioned, “The vital factor is we’re rescheduling. We’re rebooking. We’re aggressively pursuing new occasions. We’re doing extra with much less in our advertising and marketing efforts. We can be able to welcome again our guests and our visitor security is the best precedence.”