Beach Towns Unite Marketing Push

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    Tourism promoters along Lake Michigan want to build on a successful marketing partnership that’s creating a brand identity for shoreline destination communities.

    By formally incorporating a new entity, the visitors bureaus behind the “Michigan’s Beachtowns” campaign with the state hope to further brand their communities and are planning to broaden the initiative by launching additional joint marketing ventures.

    “It’s a successful campaign and it’s clicked with the customers,” said Felicia Fairchild, executive director of the Saugatuck-Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau and president of the Beachtowns group. “I would say it’s the consummate collaboration. We’d like to take it to a new level.”

    Beachtowns began three years ago as a marketing campaign when several shoreline visitors bureaus united to launch a partnership with Travel Michigan, the state’s travel bureau. Under the partnership, Travel Michigan matched the local financial contributions to fund a campaign to promote Lake Michigan beach communities as summer vacation destinations for travelers in key markets such as Chicago.

    The marketing partnerships are designed to leverage local and state funding to better promote Michigan destinations and boost the state’s $15 billion tourism industry.

    The 2004 Beachtowns campaign was by far the most successful of the nine partnerships that Travel Michigan formed last year with various partners around the state. Between May 1 and Sept. 30, the Web site for Beachtowns registered nearly two and a half times the number of “click throughs” that originated from the Travel Michigan site than the next nearest partnership, Mackinac Island.

    Beachtowns was funded last year with a $10,889 contribution from each participating visitors bureau, which was matched dollar-for-dollar with funding from Travel Michigan to create a $196,000 summer campaign that targeted Chicago.

    Travel bureaus participating in the Beachtowns campaign are Holland, Saugatuck-Douglas, Grand Haven, Muskegon, Silver Lake-Hart, Ludington, South Haven, St. Joseph and New Buffalo’s Harbor Country.

    The Beachtowns incorporation formalizes the business relationship that has evolved between the nine bureaus from Beachtowns and, through bylaws, sets down expectations of each participant and creates a governing structure, Fairchild said.

    The group will continue the Travel Michigan partnership and will work to develop new marketing ventures on its own that follow the same philosophy: Leverage the available resources and funding of individual participants to promote everybody collectively.

    Collaboration is critical to effectively promoting the shoreline in the key, yet expensive, Chicago market, Fairchild said.

    “It allows us to take out whatever resources we have, put them into a pot and make it a bigger critical mass to get the message out,” she said. “None of us can do it alone. We’re all too small.”    

    The “Michigan’s Beachtowns” campaign between Travel Michigan and several Lake Michigan destinations generated the most Internet traffic last summer among the nine marketing partnerships formed with Travel Michigan in 2004. Here’s a look at how each partnership fared from May 1 to Sept. 30 in terms of direct exposures to their Web sites and the number of exposures to each site via Travel Michigan’s www.michigan.org

    Campaign

                       

    Exposures

                        

     Clicks

    Beachtowns

               

    1,306,853

                 

    146,215

    Mackinac Island

               

    729,266

               

    56,642

    Southern Paradise

               

    268,792

               

    19,687

    The New Detroit

               

    146,711

               

    11,214

    SaginawValley

               

    105,720

               

    7,871

    Mich.’s West Coast

               

    74,174

               

    37,066

    Musk./Lake Express

               

    60,653

               

    8,866

    Motor Cities

               

    5,105

               

    2,150

    BestWestern Mich.

               

    4,809

              

    1,054

    TOTAL

               

    2,702,083

               

    290,765

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