Volunteers constantly working to help more tourists discover Trinity County and entice them to come visit presented their annual marketing strategy during the Trinity County Board of Supervisors’ first meeting of the new year.
They highlighted investments they plan to make of approximately $75,000 this year in Transient Occupancy Tax revenue allocated to them by the county in its 2019/20 budget for advertising and promoting tourism.
Derived from a five percent hotel tax collected from the patrons of local lodging and resort facilities, the total TOT revenue estimate for the 2019/20 fiscal year is $210,000 to the county’s general fund. About $100,000 of that is allocated to advertising and promotion including a yearly contractual amount of $25,000 to the Trinity County Fair.
Seven other organizations receive a portion of the remaining $75,000. They include the Trinity County Visitors and Development Bureau and Trinity County Information Service now operating as two branches; the Trinity County Arts Council, Trinity County Historical Society, Weaverville Chamber of Commerce, Hayfork Chamber of Commerce and Humboldt Trinity Recreation Alliance.
To avoid duplication of efforts, their TOT contract with the county requires the development of a coordinated marketing plan, working together to identify goals and strategies for the coming year.
President of the Trinity County Information Service, Travis Finch presented the plan that begins with a list of challenges the county faces in attracting more tourism to the area, but concludes with goals and opportunities to improve awareness of local attractions and planned events, as he said, “many people don’t even know Trinity County exists.”
Challenges identified include remoteness and access often hampered by ongoing roadwork occurring on the three state highways through Trinity County: 299, 3 and 36. Airports are small with runways too short for commercial flights, and other infrastructure is also lacking including cell service in some areas; inadequate parking in downtown Weaverville; few restaurants, if any, to accommodate large tour groups; few lodging opportunities that aren’t reserved months or years in advance; and businesses that aren’t open on weekends when tourists are passing through.
Seasonality was also cited as a problem in that many of the special events scheduled involve fair weather activities, leaving local tourism-based businesses to weather about five months of ‘off-season’ conditions when little to nothing is planned.
Existing opportunities the groups plan to focus on are tours of the county through Shasta College and Road Scholars programs; production of a new KIXE marketing video under KIXE General Manager Dave Cox, a Weaverville resident; regional marketing efforts the county chamber is involved in through membership in the Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association; and expansion of existing special events such as bike races and autumn festivals to include multiple days of activities that encourage visitors to stay an entire weekend instead of just a day. Efforts also include creation of a unified and unique brand for Trinity County that can be used on all marketing material to promote familiarity with the area’s attractions and locally made items sold in the Visitor Center gift shop and online store.
Details were provided about upcoming advertising campaigns and a recent front-page spread in a German magazine highlighting the Trinity Alps; Information Service activities on Main Street in Weaverville to assist tourists and promote events online; placement of live webcams at key locations around the county; updating the VisitTrinity.com website, the Trinity County Wikipedia entry and a FilmTrinity.com website.
To identify success or failure, the plan also calls for better tracking of certain benchmarks such as attendance at events, increased social media contacts, increased overnight stays, increased traffic reported by local businesses and stabilization or increase of TOT revenue.
Trinity County Chamber of Commerce President Kelli Gant said the majority of the Visitors and Development Bureau Board of Directors is lodging owners “so most of their interest is in brand awareness to let people know Trinity County exists. On the website, we are increasing our content to click out and get information on all events because about 85 percent of those who come here found out about us online.”
She said “our biggest beef” is that VisitCalifornia, a nonprofit organization devoted to marketing tourism statewide, “doesn’t know we exist. They receive $2.9 million earmarked for marketing California, and we’re not there. So our big goal is to make sure we are on their site. We’re going to go to the VisitCalifornia board meetings and be a pain in the neck. They are ignoring all of rural Northern California and we’re going to push. People’s first visit to California is to Napa and Los Angeles, but then they branch out and we will get the second and third-time visitors. That is what we are pushing for.”
Gant said another upcoming task is to make sure all local businesses are located on Google Maps which is not currently the case, “and it’s a really big deal. Tourists pass through Trinity, and we need to find a way to stop them before just driving the slalom course down to Redding.”
Supervisors thanked the groups for their efforts, noting Trinity County “runs on volunteers.”