February 2015 Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission Summary
The following is a synopsis of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission meeting held February 19 at Garvan Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs. For questions regarding this report, please contact Gloria Robins, executive assistant, at 501-682-7614.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S REPORT
Bills to date that have been introduced during the legislative session that would potentially impact the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism include: SB 403, to create a 13-member Arkansas Bikeways Commission to promote bicycling safety and education; House Bill 1229, the Arkansas Military Protection Heritage Act; Senate Bill 382 to study the restructuring of various state agencies into ten principal departments; and House Bill 1112 concerning the sales and use tax exemption for sales by a charitable organization.
A nomination for the 2015 Vice Chairman of the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission took place and a motion was approved by the commission for the nomination of Jim Dailey for this role.
For more information, contact Gloria Robins at 501-682-7614.
Tourism Director Joe David Rice reported on a staff recommendation for a percentage increase for the state ad agency (CJRW) for the upcoming fiscal year. The commission approved the proposal to approve the rate structure.
Research and Information Services: Section Report
There were 8,391 requests for travel information during January 2015, an increase of 55.8% from last January. Jennifer Neubauer reported that Welcome Center visitation during January 2015 was 37,913, up 10.59% over last January. The rise in visitation can be attributed to the mild winter Arkansas had in January compared to the snow and ice in 2014. The total number of vehicles stopping at Arkansas State Welcome Centers increased 10.24% compared to January 2014.
Welcome Center Program
Tiffany Knox reported that she traveled to two bridal shows including a bridal show in Memphis and the Dallas Bridal Show. She also briefed the commission on new items available at the Natural State gift shop and showed images of examples of the new merchandise that was purchased. The merchandise will be available at the upcoming Arkansas Governor's Conference on Tourism.
For more information call 501-324-1520.
Communications: Section Report
The commission was briefed on changes to the online media room at ArkansasMediaRoom.com. Deputy Tourism Director Ron Maxwell gave an update to the commission on the upcoming Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Maxwell reported that Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will be in attendance. Communications Manager Leah DiPietro said the section has updated the Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism social media accounts for outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
For more information, call Leah DiPietro at 501-682-7606.
Tourism Development: Section Report
Kristine Puckett reported that art was approved for the Spring/Summer 2015 Calendar of Events. Delivery to the warehouse is expected by mid-February. The commission was briefed on the ALFiE (Arkansans Love Festivals & Events) Awards. Winners included the Hot Springs Craft Beer Festival, MusicFest El Dorado, the World’s Shortest St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and the Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival for the BLT Bowl.The Tourism Development section also met with the staff of the Arkansas Business Publishing Group last month to discuss upcoming changes to the format of ADPT’s Living in Arkansas publication.
For more information, contact Kristine Puckett at 501-682-1926.
Group Travel: Section Report
Tracy Morales worked eight different trade shows for the month of January. She gave a report on the American Bus Association (ABA) Marketplace and said it was a successful show. Morales reported on the various bridal shows the Group Travel section attended and reported that the most successful bridal show they attended was in Memphis. Morales reported that the 2015 Arkansas Motorcycling Guide was released last month. The section took the publication to various motorcycle shows including Progressive International Motorcycle Shows in Dallas, Cleveland, and Chicago.
For more information, contact Tracy Morales at 501-682-1219.
CJRW reported on the 2014 Fall/Winter TV Post Buy Analyses. Of the five markets purchased as part of the schedule, all but one posted 90 percent or better. The overall average was 96 percent. The market that performed below this was Shreveport (86%).
A 2015 Spring/Summer spot broadcast television campaign will supplement the spot cable TV schedule. This 21-market buy targets an audience of adults ages 25-54. This will run concurrently with cable April 6-May 24. The total budget is $1,086,900. A report on the 2015 Spring/Summer Hispanic television schedules was also presented. CJRW showed examples of Shazam and Pandora creative elements to the commission as well as two new Meet the Locals videos. The commission approved the campaigns presented.
For more information, call 501-975-7217.
Aristotle gave an update on the new Arkansas.com. This is the first full redesign of Arkansas.com since 1998 and it is a responsive redesign. Aristotle reported that there are 349 content pages to redesign, 99 brand new pages, 57 pages newly optimized for SEO and that there are 7,899 business listings. In 2014, Arkansas.com had 6,112,279 visitor sessions. The majority of traffic is coming from outside of Arkansas.
Sessions to Arkansas.com have decreased compared to January 2014 (8.2%). Less money was spent on keyword buys in January 2015 which accounted for a drop of 23,500 sessions. Sessions to Arkansas.com via a mobile device reached 190,002 in January 2015 (51% of all traffic) with mobile accounting for 141,898 sessions and tablets for 48,104 sessions.
For more information, call 501-374-4638.
STATE PARKS DIVISION
The State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission approved spring TV and radio spots to promote visitation to Arkansas State Parks. The TV and radio spots will run on stations throughout Arkansas beginning March 1, 2015, in partnership with the Arkansas Broadcasters Association. For additional information, contact Joe Jacobs or Joan Ellison at 501-682-6924.