By Steven Penn
After 15 years of being known as the Hendricks County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the organization has changed its name to Visit Hendricks County in an effort to better serve the community.
Visit Hendricks County Communications Manager Josh Duke said the change signals a more straightforward approach to what is offered.
“We just believe that it kind of better fulfills what we’re already doing,” he said. “We really want to focus on marketing and selling the brand, which is tourism in Hendricks County and this being an affordable destination for visitors. We just really feel like that ‘Visit’ tag really spells out to people what we’re all about and what we’re trying to do for the county.”
Jaime Bohler Smith, associate director for Visit Hendricks County, echoed the same sentiment in a press release.
“We feel it sends a clear message to everyone, whether it’s a visitor, industry partner, or local resident that we are the agency responsible for encouraging visits to Hendricks County,” Smith said. “This will allow us to more effectively market and sell Hendricks County by having a brand that will go across platforms, whether you are a leisure traveler, business traveler, or come here with a sports or motor coach group.”
According to the press release, the new name follows a trend in the tourism industry in which a handful of the approximately 70 Convention and Visitors Bureaus statewide have applied a similar moniker to define their mission. Tourism organizations that have already instituted the “Visit” tag include Indianapolis, Bloomington, and Fort Wayne.
Duke said the organization researched how the change served those communities before instituting it in Hendricks County.
“We’ve noticed (in places that added the ‘Visit’ tag) that it has increased visitor recognition as far as them coming to bureaus to get visitor information,” he said. “When they see that it is, in this case Visit Hendricks County, they know that we’re the organization to go to when they want to get visitor information.”
Smith said she sees the change as a way to cut down on confusion.
“Everything we are doing is based on research that either we conduct or glean from industry data,” Smith said in the press release. “Those who have changed to the ‘Visit’ tag have seen an increase in requests for visitor information as people no longer confuse us with chambers of commerce or other community or county organizations and recognize the services we provide.”
Visit Hendricks County has also made several in-house changes to support productivity.
According to the organization, three staff members have been promoted within the organization to director of marketing, director of sales, and visitor services coordinator positions, and the former community and events manager will transition to the groups manager role to better utilize the organization’s community knowledge to service and sell to the group travel market.
Duke said Visit Hendricks County will be working on the rebranding effort in the coming months.
“Over the next nine months we have the rebranding campaign, which basically is just going to be a lot of advertising and getting the word out that we are now Visit Hendricks County,” he said. “It’s a marketing effort that we will be going through over the next nine months.”
He added that the rebranding effort will be in addition to its yearly campaigns.
“We do a summer campaign every summer to encourage visits into the county,” Duke said. “We do a fall campaign as well, and then we do a holiday campaign. So this rebranding campaign will be in-between each of those campaigns to get the word out that we are Visit Hendricks County now. There’s legwork that has to be done to let people know who you are and that the change is made. We’ve been the Hendricks County Conventions and Visitors Bureau for 15 years, so obviously when you make those changes (it takes some time). We’ve already changed some of our social media platforms. We’re now on Twitter @HendricksCounty ... and we also changed our Facebook to www.Facebook.com/VisitHendricksCounty.”
He said along with the name change across the other digital platforms, Visit Hendricks County’s website will also see an overhaul in the future.
“The website (change) is actually going to come later,” Duke said. “There’s going to be a major website overhaul coming in 2014. As far as in 2013 ... we’ve kind of changed the header so people recognize that that’s Visit Hendricks County. The URL has remained the same, (which is) www.TourHendricksCounty.com. That URL will also change to www.VisitHendricksCounty.com when those changes are made in 2014. That’s a little bit down the road, it’s kind of coming in two installments. It’s a technical thing, is the reason why it didn’t all come at once.”
He said the change is coming at a time when the Hendricks County tourism industry is at an all-time high.
“We’re really excited about it,” Duke said. “We just had some record years the past few years (for) tourism in Hendricks County. For example, the county’s innkeeper’s tax ... it brought in $1.65 million in revenue in 2011 and it has brought in an estimated $1.8 million in 2012. In 2012, 11 of the 12 months we set records for the year, as far as tourism dollars and innkeeper’s tax money. We just want to continue that positive momentum. We feel like changing our brand to Visit Hendricks County will do that. We just want to build upon what we’ve built over the past 15 years.”
In addition, per information from the press release, a 2011 Economic Impact of Travel and Tourism for Hendricks County Study conducted by Certec, Inc. out of Lexington, Ky., showed more than 2.1 million visitors spent $219.3 million in Hendricks County in 2011, an increase of 3.7 percent annually (as adjusted for inflation) from 2009.
Emory Lencke, executive director for Visit Hendricks County, said the future looks bright as 2013 progresses.
“Hendricks County continues to see annual increases in innkeeper’s tax revenue, hotel occupancy rates, and average daily hotel rates which are how we measure a large portion of our success,” Lencke said via the press release. “We have seen a strong showing as we enter 2013, and with these changes not only to our name but our structure, we anticipate sustaining that positive momentum.”
For more information, visit Facebook.com/VisitHendricksCounty and become a fan for updates, reminders, contest information, and more, and follow the organization on Twitter @HendricksCounty.
Information and updates are also available by following or subscribing to the tourism blog at www.TourHendricksCounty.com/blog, by visiting the website at www.TourHendricksCounty.com, or by calling 718-8750.