SPRTC Summary for November 2013
State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Summary
The following is a synopsis of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting held Nov. 20-21, 2013 at Quality Inn in Harrison. The next meeting will be January 15-16, 2014 in Helena-West Helena. For questions regarding this report, please contact Gloria Robins, executive assistant, at 501-682-7614.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Executive Director Richard Davies provided the commission meeting schedule for next year. The 2014 schedule is: Jan. 15-16 in Helena/West Helena; Feb. 19-20 in Hot Springs; March 9-11 at the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism in Rogers; April 16-17 in Batesville; May 14-15 in Murfreesboro; June 18-19 in Russellville; July 17-18 at DeGray State Park including the annual Staff Appreciation Dinner and Service Awards; Aug. 20-21 at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View; Sept. 17-18 in Little Rock; Oct. 15-16 in Pocahontas; and, Nov. 19-20 at Mount Magazine State Park.
For more information contact Gloria Robins at 501-682-7614.
Tourism Director Joe David Rice reported that staff from the tourism division, CJRW and Aristotle took the state’s 2014 marketing campaign on the road in October, covering 1,315 miles and visiting nine towns. Called the Rejuvenation Tour, meetings were held across the state to help inform tourism industry members in regard to how tourism marketing dollars are being spent in 2014. The meetings also served to gather input from the industry about future spending and let them know how they can join in the state’s social media campaign.
75th Anniversary of the Great River Road
Marla Crider reported that the website landing page for the Great River Road is being updated with a more modern look. Also, for the 75th anniversary, window clings are being created that say, “Proud Partner of the Great River Road,” and “I Traveled the Great River Road.” Partners are simply businesses located on the road.
Crider also said an approximately 1.8 mile portion of the Great River Road on the outskirts of Helena will be re-routed to go by the river, but it is a project that will take about two years.
Research and Information Services: Section Report
Research and Information Services Director Joanne Hinson reported the section processed 12,299 requests for travel information during October 2013, an increase of 47.49 percent from October 2012. The calendar year 2013 inquiry total is 111,470, an increase of 8.79 percent over 2012.
There were 633 requests for retirement/relocation information in October, up 28.4 percent from October 2012. January through October requests were 4,984, down 18.7 percent.
The total number of vehicles stopping at Arkansas State Welcome Centers decreased 1.3 percent compared to October 2012. The total number of visitors decreased by 0.9 percent compared to October 2012. The Year-to-Date vehicles totals decreased by 1.9 percent and visitors totals decreased by 3.2 percent compared to 2012 data. There were a total of 77,105 tourists who requested assistance from travel counselors during the month of September. Visitors’ reasons for traveling were for vacation (42,781), passing through (30,513), local traffic (2,235), and business/student (1,576).
For more information contact Hinson at 501-324-1520.
Communications: Section Report
Communications Manager Kat Robinson reported that the section’s biggest action in October was a tour by 20 journalists through north central Arkansas. During the week of Oct. 20-25, these writers and photographers traveled from the upper and middle Buffalo National River valley to Bull Shoals Lake and Mountain View. The first of many assignments culled from this trip appeared Nov. 6 in National Parks Traveler, a piece by David and Kay Scott entitled “Canoeing The Buffalo, Finally.”
Staff members also facilitated media and assisted with the Greers Ferry Dam Dedication 50th Anniversary event on Oct. 3. Robinson reported that Jill Rohrbach attended the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association annual conference in Lake Charles, LA on Oct. 9-12. Interaction at the conference has resulted in a freelancer writing about fishing the Buffalo River; a request for the state to bid for the 2015 AGLOW Spring Cast and Blast conference, and writers signing up to attend a fishing media event on Lake Norfork in May.
Robinson showed Facebook interaction and photography being used in social media as well as video produced by staff members Zoie Clift and Tim Schultz of motorcycle rides through the state’s fall foliage. These videos have become instant hits.
For more information contact Robinson at 501-682-7606.
Tourism Development: Section Report
Tourism Development Manager Kristine Puckett said the public hearing for proposed changes to the Regional Tourist Associations Rules & Regulations was held at the Arkansas Hospitality Association office on Oct. 22. A few additional changes were made based on feedback at the public hearing. Puckett presented the final document to the commission, which voted unanimously in favor of the changes. It did ask the department to work with associations in the transition of the new rules and regulations, especially since the changes take place in the middle of the fiscal year. The new rules and regulations must be approved by the state Rules & Regulations Committee, which meets in December. Puckett said, if approved, the new policy would go into effect in January.
For more information, contact Puckett at 501-682-1926.
Group Travel: Section Report
Group Travel Manager Tracy Morales worked with Aristotle to create and update a new form to obtain better information from those requesting help to schedule group travel of any kind. Previously the lead form was only available for reunions. The form now includes the actual city, specific dates (if available), type of assistance required (lodging – number of rooms and room type(s) needed, attractions, parks, banquet facilities, transportation, and box for other options/needs.) The document will also include the expected number of guests, along with a comment box.
Morales met with Little Rock Tours on Oct. 25 to discuss the Travel South International FAM, which will take place Dec. 6-8, 2013. They discussed the overall timeline, objectives, back up plans, entertainment, and more.
Working with six other cities, Morales facilitated 59 appointments for the leisure/sports market at the TEAMS Conference & Trade Show in Salt Lake City on Nov. 5-7. She attended the conference representatives from Conway, Little Rock, North Little Rock, Bentonville, Pine Bluff and Fayetteville.
Morales attended the Progressive Motorcycle Trade Show on Nov. 8-10 in Dallas along with staff from Arkansas State Parks and other cities. They received 579 motorcycle leads from this three day event.
For more information, contact Morales at 501-682-1219.
Marla Norris with Aristotle presented the Arkansas website, mobile, social and email marketing plan and budget for the second half of Fiscal Year 2014, which is Jan. 1 through June 30. The categories in the coming year’s plan are ongoing projects, new development, keeping online and contingency.
Ongoing marketing programs – including search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, e-newsletters and e-blasts – are critical parts of the Arkansas marketing strategy that drive website traffic and travel year after year. Tracking and reporting of these ongoing programs lets Arkansas know the ROI and allows it to adjust efforts to get the best possible results for Arkansas.
In response to the changing tourism product in Arkansas and new technologies, Aristotle has included improvements in terms of development, driving traffic and industry tools.
The library of Arkansas websites, databases, videos and photos and other digital assets is deep and requires a plan for simply keeping online, functioning smoothly and staying protected. Aristotle said it si committed to making the online resources available for travelers, partners and the Department through maintaining and upgrading the website infrastructure and delivery systems.
With the rapid pace of changes in online marketing technology, Aristotle has learned that the best way to address those changes within each budget cycle is to set aside a contingency fund that will be used for important changes or projects that are not already addressed in the plan. This helps keep Arkansas ahead of the online trends, all while staying within the budget.
For more information, call 501-374-4638.
Joy Phillips with CJRW showed the television spots that will be running to market the Arkansas Trail of Holiday Lights, which kicks off Thanksgiving week. She also passed out a copy of the 20 page brochure, which is available to the public at Shell stores, Best Westerns, Bank of America locations, Subways, and Arkansas Welcome Centers.
CJRW members also reported that www.FreeArkansasInfo.com is the new site for ordering Arkansas brochures. Here the public can order a printed copy, which takes approximately two weeks for delivery, or they can download a PDF of any brochure straight from the website for immediate viewing. The site is mobile friendly.
CJRW reported that the Arkansas Fishing and Outdoor Guide has been expanded to include event more outdoor activity. Renamed Water & Woods, it covers fishing, lakes, rivers, trails, hikes and other general outdoor information.
For more information, call 501-975-7217.
Changing of the Guard
The commission elected new officers for the coming year. LeRoy Dangeau will serve as president and Mike Mills will serve as vice president.
Arkansas State Parks (ASP) renewed the grant partnership program with the Arkansas Press Association for the coming year. The partnership program promotes ASP through print media advertising. The partnership program promotes the diverse facilities, programs and activities of the state park system, inspiring Arkansas pride in the state park system encouraging Arkansans to travel in state and visit other Arkansas travel destinations. For additional information contact Joan Ellison at 501-682-6924.
The State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission approved winter TV (one) and radio (two) spots to promote visitation to Arkansas State Parks. The TV and radio spots will run on stations throughout Arkansas beginning December 1, 2013, in partnership with the Arkansas Broadcasters Association. For additional information contact Joe Jacobs or Joan Ellison at 501-682-6924.