Visitors Bureau preparing to promote the county when pandemic conditions allow
Operations for many organizations have been snarled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But for the Warren County Visitors Bureau – whose sole function is to promote the county and encourage people to come here – what are they supposed to do?
“We have a commercial in the queue ready to go,” Executive Director Dave Sherman said during Thursday night’s board meeting. “Obviously that remains in our back pocket.
“Our efforts should be tempered for now,” he told the board. “Sooner or later this is going to turn around and we’ll be ready when it does.”
The board spent some time discussing 2021 goals but Sherman said that “I don’t know how we can put a stamp on anything.
“I can honestly tell you I think it’s going to be a robust, exciting summer here in Warren County. I really believe that.”
“We’re ready when we’re ready,” Board member Laura Whitten added.
“We can’t wait for that day to happen and hopefully it’s coming soon,” Sherman said.
Financially, the WCVB has weathered the storm.
“Given what we knew in January, in march, the summer… to turn a $6,000 profit when we were adjusting on the fly, I’ll take that,” Sherman explained. We’re not in this for a profit, period. (We) still managed to spend 80 percent of what we budgeted on marketing and advertising.”
Perhaps the most remarkable statistic? The WCVB received 78 percent of the hotel tax revenue they anticipated in spite of the pandemic.
“We’re walking in (to 2021) with $50,000 tucked away for a rainy day and that wasn’t an accident,” he added. “That was planned.
Visitation to the Starbrick office did fall last year.
“We actually had about half the number of visitors that we would have had in a normal year,” Sherman added, comparing 2019 and 2020.
“I don’t have to explain why that happened. Our doors were actually shut for weeks.”
Sherman noted that the amount of requests online for visitors guides tripled.
“(That) really exploded and that’s fine. (They) weren’t getting them at welcome centers and things like that.”
That drove postage costs up but he said “we don’t mind that. That’s a good thing.”