Tourism Industry News
It’s hard to believe that we’re already two months into 2017. Time is flying by! Some of the reason may have to do with the unseasonably warm temperatures we’ve been experiencing, but I imagine it also has a bit to do with the extent of activity we’re involved in at IOTD and the pace we’re keeping. When the Statehouse is full of activity, everyone’s step always seems to quicken. Between the bills we’re tracking, our planning for spring and summer, new initiatives we’re involved with, our travels around the state meeting with partners and our obligations to the broader industry, we’ve had little down time.
At the Statehouse, I know that many counties are looking to increase their Innkeepers Tax or Food & Beverage Tax with bills currently being considered in the legislature. Those bills are particularly important to our office, too, because we know the impact they could have on the work you do so we’re keeping a close eye on them, among others.
One of the new initiatives we’ve been focusing on with our colleagues at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is the development of a culinary and agritourism strategy for Indiana. Some of you have heard me remark over the years that culinary and agritourism are the calling cards of our state. Well, that sentiment has never been more apparent than recently. As a heartland state whose name is synonymous with producing, growing and feeding, we are seeing our markets for culinary and agritourism expand rapidly. There’s a desire to capitalize on this growth, so we and ISDA have a long-term vision to make the Hoosier state a center for culinary and agritourism best practices and a destination for special food and farm based experiences. Having attended the North American Farm Direct Marketing Association’s national convention in Mystic, CT a few weeks ago, I came away inspired and confident that collectively we will succeed. I look forward to sharing our strategic framework with you and receiving your feedback during the agritourism session at the Indiana Tourism Association conference on March 14 in West Lafayette.
Another initiative that’s received much attention is the planning for our spring/summer tourism campaign, both the marketing and PR sides. On the PR side, we’ve expended considerable energy attracting travel media and are beginning to see these efforts pay off. In early February, Amy Howell and I attended TravMedia’s International Media Marketplace in New York and had the opportunity to share information about Indiana destinations with an array of writers. For many, our information was new material and some have expressed an interest in experiencing our state firsthand and writing stories. We’ve booked a few tours thus far for the summer and received commitments for Media Marketplace in April. By the way, dozens of journalists have already committed to attend Media Marketplace and I hope you are making plans to be there, too. Furthermore, I’m pleased to announce that in June we’ll be sponsoring a travel blogger and influencer event called Bloghouse, during which writers who attend will take part in workshops and networking activities to exchange practices and share story ideas about Indiana. The Bloghouse event holds great potential because of the writers it attracts and my hope is that it will expand our sphere of influence within this passionate group.
Finally, I wanted to mention that we recently refreshed the layout and design of VisitIndiana.com. Even after a record-setting year for traffic and pageviews, we felt it was important to update our look, feel and navigability. VisitIndiana.com is now designed more like a contemporary social site than a traditional website to encourage greater engagement with our content. Special features, listings, trip ideas and deals are all more prominently displayed, itineraries are more robust and continue to be upgraded with new material, destinations can more readily upload images and video and the site now allows listings to be sorted by proximity to the user. We expect all of these enhancements to lead to new benchmarks in 2017. To learn more about how you and your destination can achieve greater impact through VisitIndiana.com, I encourage you to register for our March 28th free webinar entitled “Help Us Help You! How to Get Maximum Exposure Through IOTD’s Digital Properties,” featuring our Digital Specialist, Kyle Johnson.
As always, thank you for the work you do in service to Indiana’s allied travel, tourism and hospitality industry. If there is anything that I or our team at the Office of Tourism Development can do to assist you, please do not hesitate to call on us. #H2GIndiana.
With sincere regards,