CVB wants to expand beyond city

© 2018-The Record Delta

BUCKHANNON — Across the Mountain State, Buckhannon is known for its brightly colored flowers, historic brick buildings and unique shops and eateries.

But the Upshur County CVB executive director wants to expand beyond Main Street and into marketing the entire county, which is flush with outdoor recreational opportunities, such as fishing, hiking and mountain biking, she told Buckhannon City Council at its meeting Thursday.

Laura Meadows delivered her report to Buckhannon City Council at its meeting Thursday, July 5.

“We’ve tweaked our marketing message to ‘small-town getaway, big time charm,’ so it kind of keeps that downtown atmosphere, and it’s still letting people know we have downtown Buckhannon, but we’re trying to expand into outdoor recreation in all of Upshur and really showcase that.”

“I feel like this whole community has done a great job to tell about downtown Buckhannon and the shops and the restaurants and our flowers, and we’re known for that, but if you look outside downtown Buckhannon, we have amazing trails, we have a great river, we have fishing, we have that stuff here that’s not always recognized,” Meadows added.

The new tagline led to an overhaul of the CVB’s website, www.visitbuckhannon.org, the county’s travel guide and advertising approaches.

“This past year’s just been a lot of background leg work to make sure everything’s working really well, but now that that’s all done, this upcoming year, we can use all those tools into some really cool advertising campaigns that we just started to run this past month,” Meadows said.

Meadows said she’s noticed a difference in the way people are gathering their information — for instance, while website visits are down, visits to the CVB’s social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and its YouTube channel have jumped.

“This was the first year that we saw a decrease in our website visits, and we started to kind of look at why … it was because our social media increased … we saw much higher engagement in our social media platforms, which makes sense because me, just as a general consumer, if I want to know somebody’s special, I’m going to go to their Facebook or their Instagram.”

Through Facebook, the CVB tallied 13.9 million impressions and saw 2.5 million engagements. They currently has 4,140  likes on Facebook and 344 followers on Instagram.

Meadows said she targets social media campaigns to particular audiences: for instance, Instagram users tend to be part of a younger demographic, while Facebook users tend to be in their 40s, 50s and 60s.

Meadows also reminded council of the CVB’s main purpose.

“We can get pulled in a ton of different directions, but our main function is to promote the tourism industry for Buckhannon and Upshur County and really for all of West Virginia, so it’s not just isolated in Buckhannon city limits or even Upshur County.

That’s why the CVB’s work might not always be visible to local residents.

“If we’re telling people in Buckhannon how great Buckhannon is, we’re not funding ourselves through the hotel/motel tax that is collected by the city of Buckhannon, and also the sheriff of Upshur County,” Meadows said. “A lot of times people don’t see what we’re doing because we’re not promoting to Buckhannon residents. We’re not promoting to Upshur County residents. We’re promoting to the Pittsburgh market, the D.C. market, Columbus, Ohio, North Carolina, we’re looking at those pockets because those are the people who are going to make a three-day trip to this area, to West Virginia and enjoy themselves.”

Meadows said the 2017-2018 fiscal year is the first year the Event Center at Brushy Fork, which is managed by the CVB and Sean Harris, has met its revenue goal.

“This past year was the first time that we ever hit our revenue goal, so our revenue goal for this year, we’ve increased it,” Meadows said. Overall, the event center hosted 46 events throughout 2016-2017.

The CVB also submitted a financial report, which showed its revenues were $164,143.45, while its expenses were $233,375.65, leaving the entity with a negative net income of $69,232.20.

More In Local News