Friday, February 28, 2014
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Tougher Tourism Bureau seeks stronger identity
Two fund requests denied

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[February 28, 2014]  LINCOLN — This week at the second meeting in the month of February, the Abraham Lincoln Tourism Bureau of Logan County discussed at length who they are and what role they play in the Lincoln and Logan County community.

Since taking over the hotel/motel tax in December, the city of Lincoln has been the administrator for dollars coming into the bureau. The new board that was established in December is a smaller, more focused group. Their aim is to work to define the bureau and establish criteria for cash distribution that will positively reinforce bringing tourists to Logan County.

Last Tuesday night, sticking to that criteria became a tough job for some of the board members as they denied funding to two local groups because the cash requested was not necessarily going to produce tourism dollars or “heads in beds.”

The first request would have provided prize money for the Anything Goes Barbecue competition held during the annual Art & Balloon Festival. The second was for a sponsorship for the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce Ag Scholarship Breakfast to be held in March. Because board member Andi Hake is the Executive Director of the chamber, she abstained from the voting on both issues. Andy Meister also abstained from the vote on the barbecue because he will be in the competition.

In discussion, there were members who wanted to go ahead and support the two requests because they were from local organizations. However, others held fast saying that while the groups are deserving of support, the tourism bureau is not the one to give it.

For the board members part of the struggle is in overcoming what has been done in the past, and maintaining the bureau’s proper role in the community. Andy Anderson, who is the tourism board president, commented before the vote that this was difficult for the board because a year ago they would have granted these requests without hesitation.

However, with a new focus, all the members came to realize that giving support to the two requests would be more of an emotional decision than a business decision.

In connection with these discussions, the board also talked about how to develop a new image for the tourism bureau.

In recent weeks, members of the bureau’s board, along with city of Lincoln and Logan County representatives, have been involved with the Unified Organizations Committee studies that are aimed at creating a balance between all the economic organizations.

Some of the topics that have been discussed in those group meetings included the idea that the tourism bureau can and should play a key role in bringing people into the community. Mayor Keith Snyder said at both the tourism meeting and at the city council later that evening that it was eye opening to realize just how important the bureau is going to be to the future of the community.

Part of what the tourism bureau needs to do though, is create a better image and be a greater presence. To that end, the board held a telephone conference with member Jean Bruner-Jachino, who was unable to attend Tuesday night.

Bruner-Jachino had been in contact with Kelli Smith of DCC Marketing. Smith had submitted proposals that included working on the tourism website, as well as doing some marketing analysis and branding work.

Some of the things being discussed include changing the tourism logo, and changing the name of the bureau. One piece of the DCC proposal included a new logo designed by DCC graphic artists. The logo would be connected to the branding of the bureau and would appear on websites, in advertising, on letterheads and more.


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There was also a proposal for a new website for the bureau that would be a multi-faceted product that included links to pages within the site providing a wide variety of information about Lincoln and Logan County. Pages would include an overview page, 14 ‘Attractions and tourism’ pages, a history and photos slideshow presentation, a county wide event calendar, a community page that included information about the downtown Lincoln Study and other communities in Logan County, and finally a ‘contact us’ page for the bureau.

During discussion on the website, the board talked about the name of the bureau. It was mentioned that Lincoln city administrator Sue McLaughlin had brought up in a separate conversation that in doing a google search for Lincoln or Logan County, the tourism bureau does not show up in the search. Tuesday night, Snyder said that he felt like the current name had been chosen because of its placement in the alphabet. The website address is Snyder said in doing a general search for “tourism bureau” the website is among the very top of the list.

However, everyone agreed that was not sufficient. The name needs to reflect Lincoln and Logan County.

David Doolin was in attendance at the meeting. Doolin is the creator of the ‘Explore Logan County” website, which is linked into the ABE66. Doolin has spent time working with the bureau in the past and had vision of his website becoming an integral part of the tourism site. He has also expressed an interest in creating the new site for tourism. He asked the group if the discussion going on would effectively remove him from being involved with the tourism site.

The answer was yes and no. Anderson said the bureau needed to be working with a complete package firm such as DCC. The goal is to not only create a new website, but to also work on branding, marketing strategy and strategic planning.

Tom O’Donohue told Doolin that in the future he would have a role to play in the tourism bureau, but the bureau needs to keep its priorities straight, and developing a complete package with branding was the first priority with the new website actually coming into play later.

The group also reviewed information provided by DCC on an in-house marketing and strategy session they could lead. The plan for the session would include focus groups and telephone interviews with 25 to 50 people representing residents, businesses, and visitors to Logan County. There would be a strategic planning session using SWOT analysis. SWOT is the acronym for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.”

At the end of the review, DCC would produce a written document that would discuss its findings and make recommendations in four separate areas: business analysis, market analysis, brand identity and message development, and a strategic marketing plan.

In the end, the board decided they wanted to meet with Kelli Smith face-to-face to discuss the proposal and get some clarification on some of the work the firm might do. They also came up with the names of a couple other similar firms and decided to contact them as well to see if they would be interested in submitting a bid proposal for the project.

Past related articles:

City hears report on Unified Organizations Committee 

Four community organizations announce collaborative effort to better serve Lincoln and Logan County


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