Visitor’s Bureau sees decline in lodging tax, revenue

By Aimee Hancock

ahancock@aimmediamidwest.com

TROY — The Board of Miami County Commissioners on Thursday heard from Miami County Visitor’s Bureau Executive Director Leiann Stewart, who gave an overview of how the bureau fared in 2020.

According to Stewart, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the bureau, and county, as the pandemic led to a steep decline in travel and tourism.

“For 2020, our lodging tax revenue was down just shy of 43 percent and our total revenue was down just over 37 percent,” she said.

Stewart noted the effort made to decrease spending, with the bureau’s total expenses down 16.5 percent in 2020.

“We cut expenses where we could, but we’re a marketing organization and we want to continue marketing the organization no matter what, so we did not cut those things out last year,” Stewart said.

Marketing for local businesses and organizations during a pandemic involved more virtual event advertising and reminding potential visitors what is awaiting them in Miami County.

“In 2020, our focus was on promoting local businesses to residents and visitors,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that Miami County was top of mind so that when people were ready to travel they would think of us or come to our area.”

The visitor’s bureau also held summer and holiday paid social media campaigns, which reached over 255,000 people with over 720,000 impressions. “Impressions” in social media refers to the number of times a piece of content is presented, whether it is clicked or not.

Stewart said she also worked with Tourism Ohio to include the Holiday Lights at Lost Creek Reserve in the 2020 Holiday Lights Trail for the state.

By following trends and carrying out consumer research, Stewart said the visitor’s bureau is using this information to market in the most effective way to those things that travelers and visitors are looking for. The organization also plans to invest more in search engine marketing and digital marketing.

“Our marketing for this year will reach regionally, statewide, and in surrounding states,” Stewart said. “We’ll heavily market all of the things we normally do with ways people can stay safe dining, shopping, and (participating in) outdoor recreation.”

Also during Thursday’s meeting of commissioners:

• Emergency Management Agency Director Joel Smith, during his weekly COVID-19 update, said 25.22 percent of Ohioans, or 2.9 million residents, have now received at least one vaccine dose. In Miami County, 23.3 percent, or 24,904 residents, have received at least the first dose. This is an increase of 3,663 in the past week.

• Registration opened Thursday for additional vaccine clinics through the Miami County Health Department, including one at Mote Park in Piqua on Saturday, March 27; and one at the Miami County Fairgrounds Duke Building on Wednesday, March 31. Visit www.miamicountyhealth.net/vaccine-registration. To find additional clinics in the area, visit gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

• Sonny Ward, of Forest, was appointed to serve as the Miami County Apiarist during the year 2021, with the approximate season being April 14 to Oct. 21, weather permitting. Appropriations shall not exceed $4,000 ($5 per hive; approximately 600 hives); $0.42 mileage rate; $700 hotel allowance (7 nights, $100 each).

• Commissioners authorized the contract renewal with Homestead Decor DBA Valley Lighting Group Christmas Decor, of Troy, for the rental of holiday decorations for the 2021 holiday season and the following two holiday seasons, commencing Sept. 1, 2021, through Jan. 31, 2024, at the courthouse plaza. This will include double-sided 36-inch lighted wreaths with lighted bows and 14-inch lighted garland wrap on eight poles, with cost not to exceed $8,092.08 for each season.

• Set date of Thursday, April 15, at 1:35 p.m., in the Commissioners’ Hearing Room to receive bids for the Brandt Water Tower painting and upgrades project.

• Commissioners authorized an IV-D service contract between the Miami County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Miami County Sheriff’s Office for the purchase of services for the effective administration of the support enforcement program.