02/08/04 — Advertising paying off

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Advertising paying off

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on February 8, 2004 2:03 AM

The right kind of exposure, and good advertising, is beginning to pay off for Goldsboro, says Travel and Tourism Director Marlise Taylor.

Not only are the occupancy rates at hotels steadily increasing, but interest in the Wayne County area is rising, she said.

Hotel occupancy rates rose by almost 8 percent in 2003, bringing in more tax dollars for the area, Ms. Taylor reported.

In 1993, occupancy tax collections for Goldsboro were $170,437. A decade later, that amount has risen to $287,788.

Twenty percent of the occupancy tax money funds the Travel & Tourism Department.

Mrs. Taylor monitors monthly the number of people who contact her office expressing an interest in visiting, or getting more information, about Wayne County. Those inquiries come via mail, e-mail and phone.

January is usually the slowest month for inquiries, but the numbers skyrocketed last month after an advertisement in Southern Living was published. Mrs. Taylor said that 85 percent of the office's 427 inquiries were generated by the magazine advertisement. She knows that because the inquiries were forwarded to her from the magazine.

"While ads cost, they also pay off," she said.

Though advertising costs money, the Travel and Tourism Department has worked hard at getting the most for its money, she said. It was able to get a $3,100 grant from the state tourism department for the Southern Living advertisement.

That meant the department only had to pay $1,000.

Goldsboro and Wayne County are also featured in next month's issue of Our State magazine. The five-and-a-half page story, complete with color photographs of the area, covers the historical and recreational aspects of Wayne County.

"If that were an advertisement, it would cost us about $38,000 for that kind of space and coverage," Mrs. Taylor said. "It's great that they want to do an article like this."

In addition to coverage in those two magazines, the Travel and Tourism Department also advertised in the 2004 state travel guide and is advertising on a billboard on Interstate 95.

The billboard, which is in Johnston County just before the Wayne County line, can be seen by north-bound travelers. Mrs. Taylor hopes to get another one up next year, to catch travelers heading south.