WOODSTOCK — The Shenandoah County Tourism Council discussed its plans regarding marketing and advertising at its regular meeting Tuesday.
Back inside the board room at the Shenandoah County Government Center, Tourism Council members and guests received a crash course in what’s to come in the upcoming months, including approved budget numbers and initiatives during a presentation from Jenna French, the county’s Director of Tourism and Economic Development.
The fiscal year 2021-2022 Tourism and Economic Development budget is $135,744 more than the FY21 budget, for a total of $810,340. While the budget doesn’t solely cover tourism, certain aspects are included as “tourism only,” including contractual services, advertising, support of local arts and support of local attractions.
This fiscal year’s budget includes $24,200 to contractual services, which is $6,700 more than last year. This aspect includes the hiring of bloggers and travel writers who supply content for the county’s various tourism marketing initiatives.
The budget includes $131,100 for advertising, which is $24,200 lower than last year. That lower figure is because of a change in how money toward the Spirits Trail initiative is listed now instead of being counted under advertising dollars, French said.
Marketing and advertising initiatives for this fiscal year continue to include many of the same priorities the Tourism Council focused on by the end of FY21, including branding, new visitor guides, content creation such as photos, videos and blogs, entrepreneurial development efforts such as RevUp ShenCo and Start Up Shenandoah Valley (S2V), the Faces of Tourism program, supporting the rail trail project and planning for the county’s 250th birthday celebration in 2022.
Most of the advertising dollars are spent with Fuse, the company that handles many of the county’s marketing initiatives.
Much of the digital marketing is focused on expanded content and imagery to highlight different aspects of what Shenandoah County has to offer. This includes pointed, creative ads that almost look like short stories, French said.
For FY22, $120,000, which includes $30,000 of pre-billed funds, is likely to be allocated for projects with Fuse. Those projects include updates to summer and fall marketing ($6,800), updating creative efforts post-rebranding ($10,000), media projects ($28,000), media planning and buying ($28,400), website hosting ($8,500), account management ($16,800) and photography and video ($21,600).
According to the FY21 budget, $155,300 was allocated in the tourism budget for advertising, with $58,576.79 unused by the end of the fiscal year. This doesn’t include $19,621.38 received in grants toward marketing nor the $21,464.56 toward the Spirits Trail fund.
In other news, the tourism council:
• Voted to accept Katie Mercer as council chair and Bill Schumacher as vice chair. Both Mercer and Schumacher volunteered for the roles and the council voted unanimously to approve each of them for a one-year term. Schumacher had been serving as interim chair for the past few months.
• Was made aware of the fact that meetings were resuming as in-person meetings, likely with no online component. Members were told they would need to be in attendance to be counted as present, even if an online component was offered for the public.
Attending Tuesday’s meeting were council members Mercer, Schumacher, Lynn St. Clair, Barbara Adamson, Meredith Norris, John Boor and Dan Harshman.