By RICK CURL
Of The Record Staff
Area attractions were given the opportunity to find new ways to market themselves during a special event that took place at the CCCC/Dunn Center Thursday.
Aimed at helping hotels, restaurants, museums, retail shops and other businesses geared toward tourism get the word out about what they offer, the Tourism Research Center showcased programs offered by North Carolina Department of Tourism and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
“There’s really unique opportunities here and I want businesses to take advantage of it,” Director of the Dunn Area Tourism Authority Sharon Stevens said. “What we’re doing here is picking their brain to help us promote our businesses.”
Representatives from 14 different agencies were on hand to offer their assistance.
“I think a good working relationship between the state and our area,” Mrs. Stevens said See Tourism, Page 3A Tourism
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about what she hoped to see come from the event. “I have a good relationship with them as tourism director. I think our museums, our restaurants and our hotels will have a face-to-face with the people who can help market them.”
One area showcased that is often overlooked in tourism is the research involved in promoting to the right audience or the right demographic.
Marlise Taylor, director of tourism research for Visit North Carolina, gave visitors a chance to discover how useful research can be to attracting visitors to a particular business or attraction.
“Our job is to let the folks here know what research is available to them at the local level from us that we perform at the state level,” she said. “The research we perform they can use to understand who the visitors to North Carolina are, what they spend, how long they stay, then some other types of research they can perhaps model after the state level.”
Ms. Taylor said her agency provides services that could normally strain the financial resources of affected businesses or agencies.
“Research can get expensive at the local level,” she said. “The fact that we’re able to provide county-level visitor spending data for all of North Carolina’s 100 counties is really helpful. Especially to the smaller destinations, the smaller counties that really don’t have the funding to go out and purchase research. We’re able to buy that and break it down to the county level.”
Other areas that were covered by agencies on hand included the Dunn Area Tourism Authority, representatives familiar with marketing over social media as well as providing guidance to take a businesses marketing campaign to the next level.
“They have anything you need to know,” Ms. Stevens said. “If you have questions, if it’s advertising. We’ve got information on bringing group tours to the area. Just about anything on the business side of it. We’ve got ‘Going Green’ here, advertising, social media, the website and international marketing.”
Mrs. Stevens said the educational aspect of the event is probably the most significant thing she hopes will be a by-product.
“There’s opportunities for businesses to help promote themselves that they don’t realize and they don’t know how to go about doing it. It’s educational.”
The state and city got together to exchange information about tourism in North Carolina and how businesses and agencies could better market themselves. At left, Bobby Carr, left, and Mark Johnson of the Dunn Area History Museum discuss ideas with Visit North Carolina Director of Tourism research Marlise Taylor. The event took place Thursday at the CCCC Dunn Center.
Daily Record Photo/Rick Curl