Visit North Central Massachusetts Update
- Visit North Central
The Chamber’s tourism arm, Visit North Central Massachusetts (VNCM), has strategically shifted its marketing efforts since the start of the pandemic to focus on helping our regional economy recover from the pandemic. In the Fall we focused our marketing efforts on promoting the many safe opportunities available within the region. Our efforts were informed by research and data that indicated that there was strong pent up demand as consumers, who were in lockdown since mid-March of 2020, were looking for safe and family friendly opportunities to travel, while trying to avoid urban settings and larger crowded destinations due to health concerns. We saw strong demand during the season for hiking, camping, fall foliage, local farms and other outdoor activities. Our efforts primarily focused on digital marketing, included updating our website with new relevant content highlighting COVID friendly activities and businesses in our region, investing in social media and in some targeted digital advertising. Public relations was also utilized to promote the region, with North Central Massachusetts being highlighted as a destination in several media outlets in the Fall. We garnered about 400,000 Facebook impressions over the Fall, which represents a 7% increase over the same period the previous year. Our website also saw strong traffic with a 5% increase in visitors over the previous Fall period.
In the Winter, we shifted our focus towards marketing to local consumers to encourage buying and supporting local, as well as highlighting safe Winter activities such as skiing. We continued with “When it Matters Most” as the overarching theme and aligned our efforts with the statewide My Local MA campaign to highlight the importance to consumers of supporting local businesses impacted by the pandemic. Our marketing included paid social media campaigns on Facebook, Google AdWords, some targeted print advertisements and sponsored content. We saw strong results, including nearly 200,000 Facebook impressions in December and January, which represents a 170% increase over the same two-month period the previous year. The sponsored content campaign also generated nearly 70,000 impressions. We also updated our website with Winter content and produced a video promoting shopping local and two new additions to our “Taste of North Central” library of videos promoting unique local businesses. The videos have had over 66,000 views so far. STR data shows that room occupancy for CY2020 was 47.1% in North Central Massachusetts which reflects a 34% decrease over the previous year. ADR and RevPAR were also down 22% and 28.9% respectively. Total room revenue was down 54.3%. Local rooms tax collections were also noticeably down from the same period the previous year.
As we move in to the Spring and the reopening of more and more of our economy, our marketing efforts will be critical to helping local businesses to attract the customers that they need to regain their footing from the impact of the pandemic. In addition to our social media, website, paid media and public relations efforts, we plan to resume distribution of our Guide to North Central Massachusetts in the Spring. We will also continue to monitor and adjust our strategies and tactics as needed to respond to changing consumer demands and the health pandemic.