[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
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
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
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
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.
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 ABE66.com. 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
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