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Victoria branding campaign continues forward

By ALLISON MILES
Dec. 27, 2010 at 6:27 a.m.


BY THE NUMBERSHotel occupancy rates have increased since the Bring Your Boots campaign got its start, but other variables also come into play. Here's a look at occupancy rates for the Victoria metropolitan area:

2008

Quarter 1: 56.5%

Quarter 2: 58.2%

Quarter 3: 57.2%

Quarter 4: 50.2%

2009:

Quarter 1: 43.0%

Quarter 2: 40.3%

Quarter 3: 47.4%

Quarter 4: 42.2%

2010:

Quarter 1: 49.1%

Quarter 2: 53.2%

Quarter 3: 55.6%

Quarter 4: Unavailable

Source: Governor's office of Economic Development and Tourism

A branding campaign that urges visitors to bring their boots to Victoria got its start in April, but, eight months in, it's still too early to determine results.

It's difficult to quantify any branding campaign's success before the two-year mark, but Victoria's project is encouraging, said Bridgette Bise, executive director of the Victoria Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Some organizations request to use the "bring your boots" logo to advertise events, she said, and the visitors bureau fields calls from other cities wanting to learn more about how the organization enacted the campaign.

The initiative has also taken home awards at the state level.

"There's quite a bit of buzz," Bise said, adding that there is no one, single measure of success.

When it comes to the convention and visitors bureau website, traffic is also up, said Janell McPhail, who owns Jet Marketing and Advertising, the company behind the campaign.

The site averages about 1,000 hits per month, McPhail said. Traffic jumps to about 1,500 people when major advertising initiatives, such as radio ads, are under way.

Most visits to the site typically come from people in Victoria, although Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and Austin also make the list.

A shift in search terms people type in to find the site also indicate advertisements are working, McPhail said, explaining people search things such as "bring your boots" and "boots, Victoria."

"People are engaging, remembering what the ad said and following up with search terminology to figure out what there is to do in Victoria," she said.

It will take time for recognition to set in with the branding project, but the prospect is exciting, said Martha Hamilton, director of sales for Candlewood Suites and Holiday Inn Express.

Bise recently distributed boot-shaped displays with shopping guides and other items to local hotels.

Hamilton said guests have already taken notice.

"One of the things we're trying to do is to encourage our business travelers to bring their families back over the weekend," Hamilton explained. "The more information we have out for them, the more it will help."

The community's push to update downtown Victoria will also encourage tourism, she said.

"Everything plays its role," she said. "It's exciting."

Work on the campaign is far from over.

The convention and visitors bureau plans to continue tracking web traffic and hotel/motel occupancy rates, Bise said, and will work with the state to better evaluate weekend stays, which the bureau said will help in determining its success rates. Website updates and more emphasis on the bureau's Facebook and Twitter accounts will also come into play.

Next year's advertisements, which come from residents' point of view and depict what people can do while wearing their boots in Victoria, are in the works, too.

"We're just going to continue to progress and move forward," she said.

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