The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau (PMVB) has been around a long time, but six years ago it put into motion a plan, a "rebranding of the Poconos" according to bureau Vice Chairman John Kiesendahl of Woodloch Resort.
Now the efforts of the PMVB and its staff, its partners and the "thousands of dedicated employees in the industry" is paying off.
Room tax revenue for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2011 is up 6 percent over the previous year. The total revenue was $4.6 million collected in the four counties region which consists of Carbon, Monroe, Pike and Wayne counties. The tax revenue is reinvested in marketing the Pocono Mountains.
This year included major efforts in the targeted areas, mainly Philadelphia and New York. Much of the 2,700 media placements made this year are aimed at directing people to the updated website 800Poconos.com which was launched mid-December. The website has been seen over 1.9 million times since the first of the year. The PMVB has included social media campaigns, which included two contests that took place on the bureau's Facebook page.
David Jackson, director of sales for the PMVB, noted that the four county area saw $6.5 million in meeting bookings during the past fiscal year. This number represented a 40 percent closing rate.
Jackson also addressed the new wave of outdoor adventure sports. Events like Ironman, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Hero Rush brought 60,000 athletes and a around 120,000 guests to the Pocono Mountains last year.
"These events fall into the shoulder seasons of March, April, May and November," Jackson said. The shoulder seasons are the months which are traditionally slow for the local tourist trade. Jackson also said that the PMVB will continue to work in this direction so the "July and August are no longer the peak."
The PMVB is also asking its members and partners to reach out to their local school districts and encourage them to change the start of the school year to after Labor Day. The group has addressed the school districts with statistics that show the economic advantages to the districts. The Pocono Mountain and Stroudsburg school district have already adopted the change in the schedule.
There were four Valued Partner Awards presented during the luncheon. AMSkier, Pocono Whitewater, MayoSeitz Media and Anthony Taibi received the awards which single out businesses or individuals who go above and beyond in supporting the tourism industry of the Pocono Mountains.
Lastly the Gail V. Sterrett Marketing Award was presented to Robert A. Baldassari, director of sales and marketing for Skytop Lodge. Carl G. Wilgus, president and CEO of the PMVB, said that Baldassari was "chosen for his dedication, hard work and professionalism in the marketing field that mirrored Sterrett's passion for her work."
Gail V. Sterrett was a past marketing director for the PMVB, who passed away in 2009.