Two hundred members of Bucks County's tourism industry gather for Annual Meeting
(Bucks County, PA) Visit Bucks County (VBC), the official tourism promotion agency of Bucks County, held its Annual Meeting & Luncheon on Friday, October 17 at PARX East. The tourism office brought together tourism and hospitality partners, community leaders and VBC's Board of Directors for the premier hospitality industry event in Bucks County.
"Year after year, Visit Bucks County's Annual Meeting aims to recognize and celebrate the major impact Bucks County's thriving tourism industry has on the region," said Jerry Lepping, Executive Director of Visit Bucks County. "This year, we also bring exciting news about the direction the tourism office will be heading in 2015 and beyond, including new staff, initiatives and strategic partnerships."
NEWLY RELEASED ECONOMIC IMPACT NUMBERS
According to Tourism Economics and Visit Philadelphia (2013 data), visitor spending in Bucks County generates:
• $895.3 million in local economic impact
• $122 million in federal, state and local taxes
• Tourism supports 11,670 jobs locally
Key hotel indicators from 2014 also report an increase from the past year:
• Occupancy is up 4.3%
• Hotel revenue is up 5.4%
• RevPAR is up 5%
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS FROM 2014
• On The Ground In Bucks County: With more than 500 tourism partners throughout Bucks County's 622 square miles, VBC actively collaborates with relevant tourism and hospitality businesses to position Bucks County as an ideal leisure and B2B destination. In 2014, Visit Bucks County's Tourism Grant Program, reached the $2 million milestone, distributing funds to more than 70 non-profit organizations for tourism development since 2008. In the past year, VBC's three Visitor Centers received more than 30,000 visits and 3,000 calls.
• Spreading The Word: The world of marketing and communications is rapidly changing and VBC is expanding to fit the needs of an evolving landscape. With a marketing/advertising co-op campaign centered in North New Jersey and New York, VBC worked with five tourism partners, yielding more than 223 million impressions in target markets. On the earned media side, VBC landed nearly 300 stories locally and nationally in media outlets including, The Huffington Post, Travel + Leisure, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Baltimore Sun and FOX29.
• Digital Delivery: With a focus on connecting with potential visitors digitally, the tourism office has made major strides in the past 12 months. Last fall, VBC launched an enhanced website, VisitBucksCounty.com. In one year, the website surpassed 1.1 million desktop and mobile page views. VBC currently has more than 70,000 social media followers across six networks and the tourism office's annual summer social media contest garnered more than 2,000 entries this year. With a robust email marketing program, VBC sent more than 40 market-specific and targeted emails to 10,000+ visitors, partners and customers.
• Customer Outreach: VBC's sales team continually promotes Bucks County as an ideal destination for B2B markets, including group tours, meetings, sports tournaments and weddings. Last year, VBC's sales team attended 12 tradeshows, hosted seven sales missions/FAM tours and reached more than 3,500 customers.
NEW STAFF ADDITIONS AND CHANGES AT VISIT BUCKS COUNTY
New Hires at Visit Bucks County:
• Heather Walter returned to VBC as Marketing Director in August. In her role, Heather is responsible for strategic planning and sales/marketing execution for the groups, sports, meetings and weddings markets. She rejoins the tourism office after spending three years at Sesame Place® as Manager of Marketing for Consumer Activation & Communications. Prior to that she worked at VBC as Meeting & Event Sales Manager.
• Rachel Canelli joined VBC as Digital Content Manager in July. In her role, Rachel is responsible for content curation and creation, website management and leading VBC's photo/video efforts. She joins the tourism office after 10 years at Calkins Media where she served in a number of roles, including Anchor of the Courier Times Update/Intelligencer Update, Lead Video Reporter and a General Assignment Reporter.
• Rachel Lewullis joined VBC as Marketing & Communications Associate in July. In her role, Rachel manages special projects, including contests/promotions, email marketing and collateral for leisure and B2B markets. She graduated from West Chester University in May 2014 and was hired after completing a marketing & communications internship with the tourism office last spring.
• Leah Ben joins VBC at the end of October as Sales & Marketing Associate. In her new role, Leah will promote Bucks County as the premier countryside destination in the Northeast through sales initiatives that actively generate leads for Visit Bucks County marketing partners. She joins the tourism office after holding positions in the marketing departments of Sesame Place and Adventure Aquarium.
Promotions at Visit Bucks County:
• Jerry Lepping is now President/COO of VBC. His title has been changed from Executive Director. Jerry has been the Executive Director since 2007; prior to that, he was a VBC board member since 1998, serving as board president for two terms in 2006 and 2007.
• Paul Bencivengo was promoted to Vice President of Visit Bucks County. In his new role, Paul's increased responsibilities include working more closely with VBC's President/COO and Board of Directors as it relates to future strategic and long-term planning. He was previously Marketing & Communications Director. Paul has been with the tourism office for five years.
• Jessica Lawlor was promoted to Communications Manager. In her role, Jessica is responsible for public relations efforts for all markets, press trip coordination, leading the Bucks County Film Office and managing the tourism office's internship program. She was previously Marketing & Communications Coordinator. Jessica has been with the tourism office for three years.
VISIT BUCKS COUNTY ANNOUNCES KEY STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS
After an agency review and RFP process, VBC is proud to announce new partnerships with area marketing/communications companies to elevate the tourism office's efforts into 2015 and beyond.
• Oxford Communications will serve as VBC's brand and tourism product development team. The tourism office has worked with Oxford for more than 15 years. Oxford Communications brings with them a wealth of knowledge of Visit Bucks County's brand history and a large team of creative and strategic thinkers with big ideas.
• MayoSeitz Media will come on board as VBC's media buyer. Their impressive portfolio of tourism and hospitality clients, including Visit Philadelphia, Peddler's Village and Longwood Gardens make them a natural fit to work with Visit Bucks County.
• 20/10 Solutions will work with VBC to execute creative and continue in their capacity as the tourism office's go-to design team. VBC has worked with 20/10 for five years on a number of projects, including newsletter design, sell sheets and contest collateral. 20/10 also brings with them a wealth of tourism and hospitality expertise.
To meet the increased demand for digital content, VBC has added three photography/videography experts and companies to its extended team.
• Mighty Engine will engage with VBC to work on special video projects in 2015. Their team, with a roster of relevant tourism and hospitality clients, brings an unparalleled creative vision to help take the tourism office's digital efforts to a new level.
• Anthony Sinagoga Photography continues his work with VBC to grow and enhance the tourism office's photo and video assets. Sinagoga's primary project with VBC is a monthly video series featuring the people and stories behind Bucks County's successful tourism businesses. The first video launched this week, featuring Joseph Maxian of Sand Castle Winery.
• Natalie Wi of Allure West Studios will begin working with VBC on additional photography projects to capture the beauty of the countryside, including covered bridges, scenes along the Delaware River, scenic landscapes and Bucks County parks.
Contact: Jessica Lawlor
Communications Manager, Visit Bucks County
215 639 0300 ext. 227
About Visit Bucks County
Visit Bucks County (VBC) is the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County. The tourism office, with more than 450 tourism/hospitality partners throughout Bucks County, promotes all there is to see and do to potential visitors and residents. In addition to consumer travel, Visit Bucks County targets sports tournaments, motorcoach groups, meetings, special events and weddings. For more information on VBC activities call 1-800-836-BUCKS, visit VisitBucksCounty.com or stop by the Bucks County Visitor Center located at 3207 Street Road in Bensalem (adjacent to the entrance to PARX Casino). The Visitor Center is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. It is easily accessible from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, Route 1 and Interstate 95.