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SPRTC Summary for August 2014

State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Summary


The following is a synopsis of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting held Aug. 21, 2014 at Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mountain View. For questions regarding this report, please contact Gloria Robins, executive assistant, at 501-682-7614.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT

The new USDA Forest Service Supervisor Reggie Blackwell was introduced along with his staff, which oversees the Sylamore/St. Francis system. Blackwell has moved back to Arkansas from Texas to take this supervisory position and said he is happy state parks is such a tremendous partner and looks forward to working together.

Davies reported that the Governor’s office has requested a transition report of who is who within the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, what the current issues are, and any upcoming changes that the next elected governor will need to know.

He also said the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department responded to a letter from the commission encouraging AHTD to place an asphalt overlay from Murfreesboro to the Prairie Creek Bridge on Ark. 301 near Crater of Diamonds State Park I Pike County. AHTD stated it will make that highway improvement in 2015. Funding for the type of work is already obligated for this year.

Davies provided commissioners with a new Keep Arkansas Beautiful brochure telling the story of the program, which celebrated its 25th anniversary on June 13. The Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission inspires and educates individuals to prevent litter, recycle and keep Arkansas beautiful. Created by Act 1278 of 1997, the Keep Arkansas Beautiful Commission operates as a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and is funded through the provisions of Amendment 75, the conservation tax. Keep Arkansas Beautiful routinely supports and partners with other state agencies whose responsibility also involve litter prevention, recycling and waste minimization, environmental preservation and community improvement efforts.

For more information contact Gloria Robins at 501-682-7614.

TOURISM DIVISION

Research and Information Services: Section Report

Fulfillment
The Research & Information Services Section processed 12,556 requests for travel information during July 2014, an increase of 31.6% from July 2013. This is due to an increase in inquiries from online media, magazines, Arkansas Natural Trail Golf Guide and other specialty literature requests fulfilled by the Little Rock Welcome Center. The calendar year 2014 inquiry total is 116,693, up 40.8% from 2013.
There were 443 requests for retirement/relocation information in July, down 31.7% from July 2013. This is due to the residual effect of June 2014 performing better than the previous year, so July performance is down slightly. June-July numbers are comparable year over year. The retirement/relocation calendar year inquiry total is 3,538, up 1.2% from calendar year 2013.

Research
Jennifer Neubauer continues to prepare the Spring/Summer Conversion Study for mailing. Rachel Mulligan, previous Administrative Specialist II for Tourism Research, transferred to ADPT’s MIS department, and Brandy Flowers has been promoted from Little Rock Welcome Center Travel Consultant to the position of Admin II. Brandy will assist on important projects like the daily literature fulfillment and the conversion study mailings.

Welcome Centers
July 2014 Welcome Center visitation was 112,049, up 2.3% over last July. Welcome Center calendar year visitation is 480,252, down 3.7% from calendar year 2013. West Memphis has been in the new location for one year, and the visitation totals are evening out. Visitation to Welcome Centers excluding West Memphis increased 1.6% over July 2013. Visitation to Welcome Centers excluding West Memphis decreased 3.2% over calendar year 2013. West Memphis’s visitor totals decreased 3,393 over calendar year 2013.

For more information contact Hinson at 501-324-1520.

Communications: Section Report

During the month of July, the communications section has revised, written and submitted the new copy for the 2015 Arkansas Tour Guide. The Arkansas Media Room redesign is on schedule to be live the week of Aug. 11-15, 2014. Tim Schultz has been on the road capturing photos for the Group Travel section while Chuck Haralson has worked with Jones Productions across the state on photo shoots. Kerry Kraus has worked with Aristotle on the upcoming Arkansas.com redesign, has updated the current site and has compiled and written copy for the e-newsletters. Jill Rohrbach, Kim Williams and Zoie Clift have been writing blogs, e-newsletters, and attending meetings in their respective areas while Mary has been keeping all Arkansas social media outlets updated.

For more information, call at 501-682-7606.


Tourism Development: Section Report

Six of the Arkansas Regional Tourist Associations met the monthly compliance deadline for July reports. Those delinquent were: Arkansas’ South, Delta Byways, Diamond Lakes, Greers Ferry Lake/Little Red River, Northwest Arkansas Tourist Association, and Ozark Mountain Region. Kristine Puckett reviewed monthly reports and minutes of each association. The Tourism Development staff provided general assistance to Arkansas’s Regional Tourist Associations, and attended several of their monthly meetings. The section staff reviewed projects and prepared requests for grant payments.

Puckett is working with the Regions and the ADPT Warehouse to sort through region brochure inventory, receipt, and delivery procedures.

The Tourism Development section is collecting and posting events for the 2015 Spring/Summer
calendar (March 1, 2015 through Labor Day weekend). Event submission forms for the statewide Calendar of Events were mailed at the beginning of July. To see and proof the events that have been posted so far, go to www.arkansas.com/calendar. The deadline for all 2015 Spring/Summer event submissions is August 31. The online form for submitting events can be accessed at www.arkansas.com/submitevent.

The Tourism Development section is working with tourism artist Max Gilbert to produce the Henry Awards nomination forms. The 41st Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held in Texarkana, March 8-10, 2015. Henry Award nomination forms are scheduled to be mailed within the last two weeks of September. Nomination deadline is October 30, 2014.

Puckett also participated in the 2014 Summer Rejuvenation Tour July 8 -15.

For more information, contact Puckett at 501-682-1926.

Group Travel: Section Report

Tracy Morales completed a conference call with Sam Lacy, Marketing & Communications Coordinator Travel South USA, concerning the new Travel South USA website. She also secured a Familiarization Tour for Travel Alliance Partners through our Grand Central USA partnership. Various Tour Operators will complete a journey through Eureka Springs, Bentonville, Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas June 13-14, 2015. Morales and Tim Shultz completed a tour and photo shoot in Northwest Arkansas. New images were needed in order to complete the new student youth and boomers profile sheets.

Cheryl Ferguson attended the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Arkansas Hospitality Association. She also completed a tour of Historic Washington State Park in Washington, the new Mystic Creatures display at Garvan Woodland Gardens, and viewed the new Superior Bath House Brewery and The Gangster Museum in Hot Springs.

Tracy Morales and Cheryl Ferguson met with Executive Director, Stephen McAteer, of the McArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock. Tracy Morales and Tim Schultz met Julie Pennington at the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau for a complete tour of Fayetteville.

For more information, contact Morales at 501-682-1219.

Internet-related Items

Insights
Arkansas.com ranked # 5 in the Hitwise custom category “All 50 State Tourism Sites” behind Michigan, Virginia, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Source: Hitwise

Organic search traffic increased 41% as a whole driving 481,349 visits vs. 341,215 during July-13.
Google organic search traffic increased 60% compared to July-13 and accounted for 58% of all traffic
this month or 380,164 sessions. Total organic search accounted for 74% of all traffic to the site this month.

Aristotle keyword buys (pay-per-click) drove 37,314 clicks to the site and accounted for the following conversions: July Conversions: 4,948 Sales Leads to Partner Sites / 645 Vacation Kit requests / 202 Mobile Vacation Kit requests / 639 conversions from Bing / 58 Motorcycling Guide requests / 124 Fishing Guide requests / 41 Relocation Guide requests / 22 General E-news Signups / 1 Group Travel Planner

There were 354,677 total tablet/mobile device visits (55% of total traffic) to both the main website and the mobile website this month vs 330,805 visits last July (49% of total traffic). Mobile/tablet traffic has increased 7% compared to last July.

In July, there were 1,653 reads of the new online Arkansas Motorcycling Guide with readers spending 5:59 minutes on the guide. The new Motorcycling landing page had 3,864 unique page views this month with 253 requests for the printed Motorcycling Guide.

There were 4,831 requests online for the printed Vacation Kit compared to 4,602 last July. Texas requested the most Kits (1,149) followed by Arkansas with 459 requests and Louisiana with 368 Vacation Kit Requests. To date this year, visitors from Texas have requested the most Vacation Kit’s (8,090) followed by Arkansas with 3,936 requests and Missouri with 2,806 Kit requests.

Traffic to the Travel Arkansas Blog reached 18,264 sessions this month with over 55,000 total page views of content on the entire site. Top article was “Pretty Downtown Perryville Worth a Detour” which had 2,103 total page views and an average time on page of 00:02:34.

The icon for the Free Vacation Kit had the most clicks (3,136) followed by the Song of Arkansas Video with 1,317 clicks and the Free Arkansas Info icon with 513 clicks.

The “Arkansas Statewide Tour” was the most watched on YouTube with 3,304 views. Drilling down on YouTube demographics from Jan-July 2014, 66% of all views were male vs. 34% female with Texas sending the most views at over 83,000.

Trends
Forty three percent of all traffic to travel websites now comes from mobile. Mobile devices accounted for almost half of all traffic to travel websites in June this year, according to recent figures released by digital consultancy Nucleus.

A new Forrester study reveals that people that access social networking sites such as Facebook are far more likely to engage with a company's content on that site than desktop users.

For more information, call 501-374-4638.

Marketing/Advertising

Amy Frazier Turpin, associate media director, reported on spring/summer post media buys for 18 markets with an overall average of 92 percent. Four markets posted more than 100 percent. Three markets under delivered and CJRW will ask for make goods.

The commission approved the fall/winter media buys. Cable television will run for three weeks spanning the end of September into October. The average reach is 77 percent of adults 25 to 54 with an additional programming emphasis on 55+. The average frequency will be three times. The budget for cable is a little more than $400,196.

Broadcast will run on the same schedule with an average reach of 49 percent of adults 25-54, an average frequency of .03 and a budget of $153,540. Cable and broadcast will all run in in-state markets.

Hispanic/Latino tv spots will run the same time period as cable and broadcast with a budget of $23,065.

The total budget for the approved buys is $485,722.

For more information, call 501-975-7217.

PARKS DIVISION

Greg Butts reported that in January 2014, the Lawrence Group presented a plan to the State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission (SPRTC) for revitalizing the town of Wilson, AR, which included relocating the Hampson Archeological Museum to the Wilson town square. The SPRTC found merit in the concept to relocate the existing museum building to the town square and requested that specific location plans be developed. After thorough review of design and budget plans for the proposed museum project, the SPRTC approved the Hampson Archeological Museum to be relocated to the town square of Wilson, AR, with the cooperation of the Lawrence Group. For additional information contact Greg Butts at 501-682-7743.

Randy Roberson reported that in 2013, the Friends of Jenkins Ferry Battlefield received a grant from the National Park Service, American Battlefield Protection Program for development of a Battlefield Protection Plan for Jenkins Ferry. He reported that the proposed battlefield protection plan has been approved. The next step of the process is to concentrate on priority land parcels identifying the locations of significant battles by conducting archeological research on the land. This information will greatly improve the understanding of the battlefield. Arkansas State Parks (ASP) staff will meet with project stakeholders and discuss the importance of battlefield preservation with land owners and the various opportunities to preserve the high priority battlefield area. The SPRTC approved for ASP staff to proceed with battlefield preservation efforts. For additional information contact Randy Roberson at 501-682-1633.

Arkansas State Parks TV and radio spots were approved for the fall campaign as presented. For additional information contact Joe Jacobs or Joan Ellison at 501-682-6924.

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