Arkansas Industry Insider Newsletter

Greetings Industry Insiders!

The 39th Annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism was a success.  Approximately 580 industry folks gathered in Hot Springs to talk tourism. We had a great lineup of speakers and look forward to putting our key takeaways to work to increase and enhance travel in The Natural State. If you missed this year’s conference, or if you’re looking for notes and information from some of our sessions, click here and take a look at our 2013 summary. 

The Tourism Development Foundation Scholarship Auction raised more than $77,000. We are grateful to all who generously donated items and  those who bid on them. Your generosity will be felt for years to come, as the funds will go to help aspiring hospitality students.

Speaking of students, visitors from a few of our neighboring states will be traveling to various locations in Arkansas over the next two weeks for spring break. Please extend a heartfelt welcome to each and every person and don't hesitate to cross-sell other businesses in your area. It's a win-win for the tourism industry.

Joe David Rice
Tourism Director

Spring Break Dates

Louisiana- March 23-30
LSU March 30-April 6
Missouri - March 16-23

Bring in More Revenue During Spring Break

Take advantage in the boost of visitation anticipated by giving our guests a warm Arkansas welcome – and a reason to stay awhile. Brush up on customer service skills and have activity recommendations ready in case visitors ask about tourist-friendly options in your area. Refresh yourself with this “Know Your Stuff” Hospitality Hot Tips message from guest service expert Kristine Puckett.

El Dorado Recognized by CNN Travel

CNN Travel recently published a list of eight small towns that have made the best comebacks. Jordan Rane compiled the list, writing, “Sometimes the best against all odds tales are real ones, taking place in unsung towns, led by regular citizens energized to resuscitate once thriving destinations just as they appeared flat on the map.”

The article attributes El Dorado’s revitalization success to "one huge civic mobilization, mass restorations, a new $14.4 million conference facility and a roster of annual festivals.”

Other towns to receive the “best small town comebacks” designation include: Coronado, California; Paducah, Kentucky; New Iberia, Louisiana; Frederick, Maryland; Ely, Nevada; DeLand, Florida; and Libertyville, Illinois.

To read the full article, visit CNNTravel.

Is Your Concierge Quirky?

Jetsetter Magazine is searching out unique, fun and quirky hotel concierges and/or general managers for an upcoming column. If the concierge at your property could be considered unusual, drop a photograph and a short bio in an email to writer Gayatri Bhaumik at

Gaston Photography Exhibits Opens April 4

Longtime tourism industry leader Jim Gaston shares his photography next month as a featured artist in the Ozark Regional Arts Council Conference Room at the Vada Shield Community Development Center on the ASUMH campus in Mountain Home.

Gaston, who has operated the popular Gaston's White River Resort in Lakeview for more than 45 years, captures the outdoors in and around the White River with his camera. The exhibit will be open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday starting April 4.

Take Facebook Posts to the Next Level

According to Facebook, almost 500,000 business pages have experienced its "promoted posts" marketing feature.  This relatively new advertising tool gives business page owners a chance to push out status updates to audiences broader than just their follower (or “Like”) list. The costs depend on the numbers of likes that a page has accrued and can range from only a few to thousands of dollars. For businesses with relatively few followers, it can be a very cost-effective way to put messages in front of more Facebook fans and, possibly, attract new ones.

The process for promoting a post is relatively simple. When a business posts on its timeline, the post will have an option at the bottom to “Promote.” Clicking this opens a box with a suggested budget and a choice between only those who currently “like” the page(paying for this will guarantee that the post shows up in their timeline, where the average post might not) or “People who like your page and their friends." The “and their friends” option opens things up and allows expansion of the potential audience for a message to those who are connected to people who already like a page.

These promoted posts can also be created in the usual Facebook advertising manager, which allows for more specific targeting as well (pinpointing people in particular regions or with particular interests).

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