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Logan County Tourism Bureau anxious to get market and branding plan in place

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[October 10, 2014]  LINCOLN - Logan County Tourism Bureau president Tom O'Donohue conducted the meeting that took place on Tuesday, September 23rd.

Several discussions took place on product purchases and promotions while waiting for a marketing and branding plan being developed for Logan County tourism by DCC Interactive Marketing of Decatur.

Downtown Abraham Lincoln Walking Tour

The year that there was no Railslitter [2013], the city of Lincoln gave Main Street Lincoln funds for a downtown walking tour that featured Abraham Lincoln sites. The tour guide cost $2,500 for 4,200 brochures, which the brochures lasted one year. More are needed.

Initial considerations were that possibly the brochures were high priced due to the use of the QR Code provided in them. This would be looked at. If possible, it would be looked into to see if the codes were used. It was also considered if there might be another source of funds that could purchase a smaller amount of brochures for less money for the short-term.

O'Donohue hedged into measuring the appropriateness of tourism supplying the funding for this request, asking the other bureau directors if this should be a tourism sponsored activity? It was Main Street Lincoln that initiated this program to promote Lincoln. He observed what if other communities were to come ask for funds for like programs for their town. If Mount Pulaski were to develop a walking tour of its downtown; would we give Mount Pulaski money for it, he questioned.

If we agree to do this, it sets a precedent. "We would need to get with other communities and say, you need to give us your information, but we can do this for you too," O'Donohue said.

If we decide to do this, we wait for DCC for our marching orders as far as branding goes, because that has to be included with whatever we do," he added.

O'Donohue asked the board, "Is this a tourism thing?"

Around the table board members affirmed that it was. Hake said that just coming off of a two-week stint in another area, "I lived off of brochures." And, she added, "I think we take this to the other communities [to do the same for them]."

"I think it is what we should be doing," she said.

The group reviewed taking the Tourism booth to past and future events. O'Donohue observed that it was important to have an attraction that will bring people to the booth, and that more people came to the booth when there was something to do. "We need a draw," like the duck game that went out to a couple of the summer events.

New tourism director, Sarah Wallick agreed the ducks worked at attracting people to the booth, "except the ducks kept falling over."

One suggestion was to tailor the game to the event, like soccer balls for the soccer tournament. "I want to advance the duck game to Duck 2.0, or something," O'Donohue quipped. He knew he could get custom made ducks with stove top hats and would look into that or some other adaptation.

New billboards

The newest billboard is up, and everyone agreed they like it. Andi Hake said she thought it was too close [to Lincoln and Logan County] and needs to be farther out. All the others agreed, with O'Donohue saying it needs to be out at least 50 miles in every direction.

In raising the question about what was next for billboards, Hake urged the board to wait for decisions "until after the marketing recommendations about what we are marketing has been returned," which won't be long from now. Later in the meeting, it was agreed that all large purchases that involve branding wait for the marketing plan to make decisions.

Free state maps available in office

Stocking state maps in the Tourism office was discussed. The maps had previously been free from the states. Some states are changing policy and charging for those. "We have all 50 states, even Hawaii. I don't know what we would actually do with Hawaii or Alaska in our office," Wallick said.

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"People come and get them," Hake said.

Andy Anderson was for stocking them, "If they're free."

O'Donohue agreed, "Even Hawaii, though I wouldn't have thought to find Hawaii there, but if I knew about it and were going to Hawaii, I'd stop in."

The Logan County Tourism guide stock is also dwindling, but re-orders would be held until the market plan is returned.

Looking at the rest of the year, tourism would seek to have a booth at Christmas on Vinegar Hill, which takes place the weekend before Thanksgiving. A request would be made to have Tourism information at the historic Courthouse.

Anderson suggested that the bureau contribute to the Christmas on Vinegar Hill advertising this year if the organizers would come make a request. Everyone agreed that it is a well attended event that draws visitors from outside Logan County.

The Bureau has been holding off on a number of actions, and replenishing stock on several other marketing tools and products such as T-shirts, banner, bags, brochures, etc that will wait until its market plan and branding are in place.

Anderson was wearing his T-shirt, the first that sported the new logo 'Destination Logan County.' Future t-shirts will look different, even the color. Kiddingly he commented, "You mean I have a generic T-shirt?"

O'Donohue told Anderson, "That T-shirt was a well-done, quick solution to needing T-shirts." Laughing, O'Donohue called it the 1.0 version.


A Meet and Greet has been scheduled to introduce the new tourism director, Sarah Wallick. The event will take place at the tourism office at the corner of 5th Street Road and the Lincoln Parkway on October 14 from 4 - 6 p.m.

Trick-or-Treat with the Mayor will take place once again downtown. Businesses wishing to Trunk-or-Treat kids this year will be able to go to City Hall to set up near there. The date will be set at the next tourism meeting.

The board approved sending Wallick to her first Illinois Conventions and Tourism Council Conference. In her options, she asked approval to attend an Illinois Sports Tourism and a Finance and Administration breakout sessions.

Plans were also discussed to possibly nominate Lincoln for the America's Best Communities sponsored by Frontier and Dish Network.

The next Tourism Bureau meeting was set to take place on Thursday, October 9th at 5 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express. The company doing the market plan, DCC, would be present and provide a view of the new website design.

The bureau would also meet on Thursday, Oct. 21.

In November, it would meet on Tuesday the 18th, and in December, the meeting would be on Tuesday the 16th.

The December meeting could be the last meeting of this board. Then it would become a council for volunteers under the authority of a larger board yet to be named representing the united organizations. Darlene Begolka said that she would be interested in volunteering for the Tourism Council.

Bureau directors attending the meeting included Andy Anderson, Darlene Begolka, Lincoln Mayor Keith Snyder, Tom O'Donohue and Andi Hake, and new director Sarah Wallick was present also.

[Jan Youngquist]

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