Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

Are you prepared for Hurricane Isaac?  COVER is prepared for you.

Tropical storm season is well underway – and COVER is ready.  The Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism wants to remind you about this useful program.  COVER stands for Communication of Vacancies Emergency Response Plan.  It was created in response to the influx of travelers during Hurricane Katrina.  The system is activated when an emergency forces evacuation from surrounding areas into Arkansas. Lodging properties on main thoroughfares are easily found and book up fast – but many evacuees unfamiliar with our state drive right past available lodging just off the main drag.
Thankfully, we haven’t used it for a natural disaster yet -- but we have tested the program and have previously implemented it during spring break and some holiday weekends to make sure it serves its purpose well.  That initiative is two-fold: to assist people looking for shelter during a natural disaster and to increase business for members of the Arkansas Tourism Industry. 
Right now, models show Hurricane Isaac, currently headed towards the Caribbean, may be in Florida as early as Monday.  While those forecasts indicate areas away from Arkansas might be affected, we should consider what happened with Hurricane Katrina.  That massive storm first struck Florida as a Category One hurricane, then swept back to sea and struck the Gulf Coast as a Category Four.  The evacuees came to our doorstep.  This time, should disaster strike close to our borders, we are prepared for the onslaught of unexpected visitors.
Additional information on COVER is available on

Cabela’s Opens in Rogers

Cabela’s, the Nebraska-based hunting, fishing and outdoor supplier will open its first Arkansas retail center and showroom – and 39th overall – at 9 a.m. Thursday, August 30, kicking off a grand opening celebration Labor Day weekend. Festivities include celebrity appearances, family events, giveaways and more.
“Our customers across Arkansas and the entire region are extremely passionate about the outdoors and waited a long time for this,” said Cabela’s Chief Executive Officer Tommy Millner. “Opening the doors to this fabulous store will finally bring the unique Cabela’s retail experience to the people of The Natural State, which will allow us to better serve them. It’s an exciting time.”
The 100,000-square-foot store will be located adjacent to the Pinnacle Hills Promenade mall at the Perry Road interchange with Interstate 540. It will employ about 175 full-time, part-time and seasonal staffers, most coming from Rogers and the surrounding area.
The interior will showcase Cabela’s next-generation layout designed to surround customers in an outdoor-like experience. Cabela’s, founded in 1961, is famous for its strong brand and legendary customer service.


Travel Website Seeks Hidden Hot Spots

The Explorateur Portfolio, a website featuring “guides for the globally curious,” is seeking hotels and tours around the world that offer hidden surprises. These unexpected perks can range from out-of-the-ordinary extras for guests to a secret room that goes unadvertised. The site’s staff wants to know what your establishment offers that nobody else can.
Submit creative ways your business surprises guests to, and your place could be featured in television, radio and print interviews by The Explorateur’s media partners.


Market Upcoming Events to Thousands of Travelers

The Arkansas Tourism Division is collecting tourism-related happenings scheduled from March 1 to September 2, 2013, for the Spring/Summer Calendar of Events.
Please submit your items at by Friday, August 31. Within two weeks of the deadline, proof copy by visiting and notify the Tourism Development section of necessary changes.  
Entries received after the deadline may not appear in the printed version of the calendar. The online calendar will be updated daily as submissions are received.
If you have questions, contact any member of the Tourism Development section at 501-682-5240 or email

Hospitality Hot Tip

What kind of message are you sending your customers… even when you don’t say a thing? Discover the impression your body language is making and learn the postures you should avoid and those you should adopt by watching this month’s Hospitality Hot Tip.

Social Media Savvy

In our last e-newsletter, we discussed the importance of entertaining your social media followers with content such as photos and videos. Now, new studies suggest that the photo-focused social network/mobile app Instagram is soaring in popularity and proving to be an effective tool for businesses of all sizes.

According to a new study by Experian, a global information services company, Instagram experienced astounding 17,319% growth in North America from July of 2011 to July of this year. While still relatively new compared to Facebook (which recently bought Instagram) and Twitter, Instagram has seen business adoption grow steadily during the past 12 months. In fact, research by Seattle-based Simply Measured shows that some 40% of the Interbrand 100 companies (a list of the world’s 100 most valuable brands, including Coca-Cola, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel and Apple) are active on Instagram. The Simply Measured data shows that these big brands have big followings: 35% of the active 40% have 20,000 followers or more, and 20% of the active 40% have over 100,000 followers.

What do these numbers mean? To put it simply: there’s big potential with Instagram for businesses.  

One thing working in Instagram’s favor is that it is relatively simple to use compared to some other social networks. Instagam, after all, is all about pictures: it allows you to edit pictures easily, helps your photos look better or more professional, and allows you to share photos seamlessly across other social networking platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Here are some basic tips for using Instagram from

Make Instagram your default photo editor and a part of your daily routine. Post pictures of behind-the-scenes action at your business – kitchen activities at a restaurant, the arrival of interesting new stock at a retail outlet, your employees at work and so forth.

  • Interact with others. Like almost every other social media network, Instagram thrives on interaction. Follow others and “Like” or comment on their pictures. Share their pictures relating to the business or industry you’re in and ask them to share yours.
  • Showcase images of your products or services.
  • Search for local businesses. Don’t just share pictures of your business; take photos of your community/town/city, your customers, the weather or anything you know your audience may be interested in. Then, go find other local businesses on Instagram, follow them and interact with them.
  • Use hashtags (#) to mark your pictures so they can be easily located. Pay attention to how users tag pictures and begin tagging appropriately.
  • Create a great bio. Fill in the bio section and explain clearly what your business offers, upload a professional photo for the profile (preferably the company logo) and include a link your business website.
  • Before you download it to your phone, you can learn more about Instagram here.


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