Study details plans to market the Good Life City - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Study details plans to market the Good Life City

June 8, 2006

Albany - Tourists save each Dougherty County taxpayer about $320 a year. A recent marketing study, performed for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, found the average travelers spends $300 a day in Albany. The sales and hotel-motel taxes charged to travelers generates $146-million annually. That money pays for projects that improve our community, such as Riverfront Park and the downtown hotel.    

The Marshall family, of Ohio, spent the hot afternoon in the Hilton hotel pool. Tom Marshall came to Albany for a job interview and decided to bring his family with him.

"They like the pool, they like the hot weather, and they're done with school," he said.

Marshall's first impression of Albany -- "It's real pretty, nice, clean, a beautiful town."

A good review, but Albany's not exactly a family vacation destination. So the Convention and Visitors Bureau paid a Travel Marketing Firm $75,000 to study Albany for four months. Their final report, released this week, details ways to better market Albany to both business and leisure travelers and how to make the city more user-friendly.

At the top of the list, adding more signs pointing towards attractions, lodging and food.

"As these folks came into town to do the study they actually used some of our signage and maps to guide them around town. They showed use holes in our signage, so to speak," said Sara Underdown.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Vice President Sara Underdown says she's working with the City now to improve signage. But getting travelers close enough to see those signs takes marketing.

"It gives us specifics as to where we want to market," said Underdown.

The report says Albany needs to spend more money placing ads in national magazines like "Woman's Day" and "Southern Living" rather than in convention and meeting publications, where many of the ad dollars have gone until now.

"I was surprised to hear about some of the national publications," said Underdown. "Some of the things they're talking about are girlfriend-type getaways and some markets that we really haven't thought about."

As for recruiting large conventions, the study suggests face-to-face interaction. "People actually come to a trade show and we sell them on Albany and southwest Georgia instead of letting advertising do that."

Underdown says if these marketing changes work, more people will visit Albany, pump up the area's economy and maybe even decide to move here. And she says, that would make the study worth its hefty price tag.

Last year, Albany hotels and motels had about a 60% occupancy rate. That's just a few points below the national average.

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