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Getting another opinion

Madison to participate
in state’s tourism development program

Seattle consultant Brooks to evaluate town in mid-April

By Don Ward
Editor

(February 2008) – Madison, Ind., is among 11 cities whose tourism bureaus have been selected to participate in a unique consulting program, featuring Seattle-based tourism consultant Roger Brooks.

Roger Brooks

Roger Brooks

Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman announced that 11 Indiana communities will participate in a community assessment program, designed to help improve tourism and economic development. The assessments are scheduled to take place between April and November and will be led by Brooks, founding member of the Destination Development group. Each community will receive $5,000 toward the cost of participating in the program, provided by the Indiana Office of Tourism Development. The balance of $7,500 must be provided by the participating community.
“Roger Brooks will provide a wealth of knowledge and ideas on how Indiana can create new avenues for tourism,” said Skillman. “This program offers a unique opportunity for communities to learn ways to increase tourism marketing and achieve future economic success.”
Brooks’ visit to Madison is scheduled for April 13-15, with a public forum being planned for April 15 during which people may hear Brooks’ report and ask questions. He will conduct a tourism assessment and provide a report full of recommendations, according to Madison’s tourism director, Linda Lytle.
She and newly appointed Madison Special Projects Administrator Andy Lytle attended a planning session Jan. 25 in Indianapolis with Brooks and representatives of Indiana tourism and the other 10 cities participating in the program. Lytle said she was impressed with Brooks’ caliber and knowledge of tourism branding and marketing.
“He’s just phenomenal,” Lytle said. “His central message is that branding is not simply a logo or slogan or motto, but it’s the image of what the outside world thinks about you.”
Brooks has conducted tourism assessments for more than 400 communities nationwide since 1981. He served as the keynote speaker at last year’s Hoosier Hospitality Conference in Indianapolis. State tourism leaders then decided to offer the grant program for Brooks to visit some of its towns in 2008.
Lytle said Brooks’ recommendations will be considered as part of Madison’s upcoming branding campaign, for which $20,000 was recently awarded to Madison Main Street Program as part of a state enhancement grant. Lytle added that Madison will likely hire Brooks to return later to help create that branding campaign. It will involve such things as signage and streetscape, she said.
Initial meetings on Madison’s tourism branding were put on hold last year because of the ongoing planning of the 2009 Madison Bicentennial Celebration. Local officials wanted to coordinate any future branding initiative with the celebration, and also take advantage of Brooks’ recommendations, Lytle said.
Eleven local convention and visitors bureaus applied for and were accepted to participate in the program and receive funding. The Association of Indiana Convention and Visitors Bureaus (AICVB) facilitated the grants. Those participating include: Hendricks County CVB, Kosciusko County CVB, Lafayette-West Lafayette CVB, Madison Area CVB, Marion-Grant County CVB, Orange County CVB, Perry County CVB, Porter County CVB, Shipshewana-LaGrange County CVB, Switzerland County Tourism, Vincennes-Knox County CVB.
Brooks has worked in the tourism and resort development industry for more than 20 years. His expertise in the industry has led to hundreds of success stories. Brooks is well-known for his step-by-step instructions in helping communities build tourism development programs.
“CVBs understand the important role of smart community development,” said Marilee Fowler, president of the Association of Indiana Conven-tion and Visitors Bureau and Executive Director of the Evansville CVB. “Developing tourism is an economic driver and also improves quality of life.” 
As part of the assessment program, Brooks will visit each community and review their marketing materials. His findings and suggestions will be presented in a workshop format, as well as in a report which will include photos, examples, suggestions, and other information intended to create discussion within the community.
n To learn more about Roger Brooks, visit his company’s website: www.destinationdevelopment.com.
New Madison promotional video completed
A new 10-minute video promoting Madison is now available. This was a yearlong project to reflect Madison through the seasons. The project is a joint effort of Madison Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, King’s Daughter’s Hospital & Health Services, the Madison-Jefferson County Industrial Development Corp and the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. The new video replaces one filmed more than 20 years ago. 
“Each organization contributed ideas, wants and needs for a promotional Madison video,” said Linda Lytle, executive director for Madison Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “King’s Daughters needed to show the quality of life here in Madison for recruitment of new personnel. MIDCOR and the chamber focused on business development, training, and job opportunities and the CVB needed a product to appeal to potential visitors. We think that we now have a video that shows all of Madison’s many facets.”
The public can watch the video at the Lanier-Madison Visitors Center, 601 W. First St., during business hours. The video will debut at the chamber’s Annual Dinner on Jan. 30 at Hanover College. It features vignette interviews with several local residents, including Sue Livers of King’s Daughters, Dan Baughman of Arvin Sango Inc., Bill Grote of Grote Industries, Joe Carr, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, and local resident Ann Grahn.

Cruisin’ Auto to sponsor Folk Festival
 
The Ohio River Valley Folk Festival was essentially saved from extinction in January when Cruisin’ Auto owner Mark Grey agreed to become the event’s title sponsor of this year’s May 16-17 event.
Other sponsors also have stepped forward to sponsor the music stage and other aspect of the event, according to tourism director Linda Lytle. John Walburn, the festival’s chairman, led a meeting in early January during which committee members considered canceling the event should sponsors not be found in time. They discussed offered smaller sponsorships of $500 each to more easily attract businesses. But an intense campaign to solicit sponsors proved successful in rounding up enough sponsors to move ahead with the event for a third year.
The first year, the festival lost about $4,000, even after a $5,000 contribution from the Jefferson County Board of Tourism. Last year, the event broke even and even covered the previous year’s loss, operating without any money up front from the tourism board.
Walburn is optimistic that with another “great lineup of talent,” this year’s festival will bring out a good crowd. “We have never had a problem getting a crowd; the challenge has been getting sponsorship money early in the year so we can hire the bands.” He estimates that the committee needs $18,000 to hold the event.
Advanced wristband prices have been increased for this year’s event from $15 to $20, but the price includes $10 in food and beverage tickets. The committee also plans to sell VIP tent spaces for $500 each for the first time.

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