“It was a small group but I think it was a great start,” said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, which established the hospitality association. “[Its] overall purpose is to increase the awareness of the hospitality industry locally and its economic impact on our community but also [to serve] as a forum and exchange of ideas that would make sure that the hospitality industry is well-informed of what each segment is doing, things that are happening in our community so we can best meet the needs of the visitors.
“That [exchange of ideas] was a large portion of our meeting and we do want to include that every time, sort of an open forum that people can announce and exchange their thoughts and ideas and any questions they may have. In the future, we are planning to have various informative presentations each month that are very important to the industry.”
Along with completing a survey, those in attendance voiced upcoming events in the community and then learned about the See, Shop, Dine & Stay promotion from CVB Executive Director Ellen Archer. Spearheaded by the CVB, the promotion will place a display featuring the participating businesses at each site, encouraging guests to visit at least three of the locations to qualify for a $100 monthly drawing.
To participate, tourism-related businesses and attractions need to sign up prior to Oct. 14 to be included in the November and December drawings. This year there is no cost to join, but if the promotion continues in 2012, there will be a $25 annual fee to cover the prize money.
“This is kind of again collective sharing of visitors, if you will,” Wheeler said. “Say for instance Tellus gets a visitor. We would like for them to visit Tellus but we would also like to encourage them to visit some other businesses and attractions within our community. ... So we would encourage visitors at this point of purchase display that would be at any participating business or attraction to pick up a card and get it’s kind of like a stamp or initial at each of the places they visit. Once they visited the third place, that particular business keeps the card and then [the guests] are brought into a monthly drawing for $100, and that will be drawn at the monthly hospitality association meetings.”
Meeting on the fourth Thursday of each month at different locations, the Bartow County Hospitality Association is open to representatives of the tourism industry — such as attractions, hotels, motels, retail stores or restaurants — at no cost.
The association’s next meeting— Oct. 27, 8:30 a.m., at the Booth Western Art Museum — will focus on social media.
“We did give a survey to everyone who did attend that first meeting and asked what topics people were interested in and actually social media and the impact of tourism in the community were the top two,” said Tara Currier, director of marketing for the Booth. “So we’re going to start with social media and really just give an overview of how any business can use social media for their advantage. ... Joe Schulman, who’s the marketing director out at Tellus, will be our guest speaker.
“So he’s just going to give a brief overview of Facebook, how to set up your page, what are some of the additional components that you can do to make your page different than just the standard Facebook page. There’s a lot of apps out there that can allow people to build their own graphics and do their own contests. So he’ll go over that, go over Twitter and just the importance of your website. A lot of us, we know all of these things are out there but sometimes it can be easy to forget and if you’re not really familiar with it you might be apprehensive. So he’s just going to give a quick overview of really how easy it is to set up and the interesting components you can add to it to make it really work for you and your business, whatever that may be.”
For more information about joining the Bartow County Hospitality Association, business owners and managers need to call Archer at 770-387-1357.