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    The Alley

    Capitalizing on Montgomery’s Tourism Opportunity is Not a Shot in the Dark

    January 2016
    By David Zaslawsky   
    Photography by Robert Fouts

    Market research drives strategy for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) and updated research shows that the strategy is working. Equipped with new insights, the CVB’s nimble yet aggressive approach will take the city to the next level as a destination.

    A tourism survey commissioned in 2015 by the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau (CVB) conducted by Young Strategies indicated that hotel management wanted to increase weekend business. The Chamber identified the sporting events market as a way to draw large numbers of visitors during the weekends. The effort to attract these groups was so successful that Dawn Hathcock, vice president of the Chamber Convention & Visitor Bureau, reports that “weekends are now outpacing weekdays.”Biscuits Stadium

    The surveys that the CVB conducts are a vital tool for discovering ways that the marketing, sales and public relations strategies can be adjusted to drive demand and build tourism business for the entire city. According to Hathcock, the CVB can discover what visitors and hotel managers “want, like and need; what we’re doing right; and what we need to do differently.”

    The latest survey was completed this year and has helped shape some strategic enhancements to the work the CVB staff will undertake in the coming year. It showed that hotels in high-traffic areas are operating at nearly a 75 percent occupancy rate, leaving an opportunity to fill the remaining 25 percent of open room nights.  “We will maintain our level of business with large meetings and sporting events, but we’re also going to try to go after smaller corporate meetings, more leisure travelers and smaller groups,” Hathcock said.

    The CVB will also shift some resources in order to more aggressively promote Montgomery as a destination through social media and digital marketing. This will allow them to efficiently target audiences based on a variety of factors such as interests, location and age. Additionally, this effort will help build brand awareness with millennials.The Harriet

    “We will also ramp up public relations and marketing efforts, whether through paid advertising and earned media or relationship-based marketing such as visiting AAA offices around the state and working the group tour market more directly,” Hathcock said.

    The Chamber CVB focus is room demand and not strictly hotel occupancy rate. Room demand was up 82,475 nights over 2013 and the room supply was up 3,664 nights from 2013. “It’s like any product. You want your demand to outpace your supply,” Hathcock said.

    And the high occupancy rates mean that Montgomery will have new hotels, including a 109-room, four-story, Hilton Garden Inn at EastChase. Downtown Montgomery could see between one and three new hotels, which could give the convention district 1,000-plus rooms.

    There’s no doubt the travel industry is big business for Montgomery – visitor spending accounts for $1.36 million every day, according to Young Strategies, Inc.

    “One of the big things that makes a difference with Montgomery is not only getting conventions and groups here, but how we treat them once they arrive,” Hathcock said. “The servicing side of what we promise them is as big as anything else we can do. A lot of destinations will make promises that they may not be able to deliver. We pride ourselves on making sure that their experience is amazing. They leave Montgomery with their expectations exceeded and telling everyone what a great city it is; how it is different, what happened here, what’s changed and how soon they want to come back.”


    Available hotel rooms

    Rooms sold each night

    Travelers each night

    Daily hotel revenue

    Daily dining revenue

    Daily misc. revenue

    Daily visitor spending
    $1.3 Million

    Sources: STR Inc./STR Global Limited; Young Strategies Inc.

  • Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce
    600 S. Court St, P.O. Box 79
    Montgomery, Alabama 36101
    Tel: 334.834.5200   Fax: 334.265.4745

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