2023 Year End Report

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2023 YEAR END REPORT

WELCOME

2023 was a banner year in many ways for tourism in Emporia. Last year we saw a third consecutive year of occupancy growth, topping out at just over 60% of available hotel rooms occupied for the entire year. Our community also posted a second consecutive year with a record-breaking Transient Guest Tax coming in at over $850,000 for the year, which eclipsed the previous year by 10%, and the pre-covid benchmark by more than 20%. We created pioneering marketing campaigns and collaborated to establish innovative partnerships, resulting in an increase in visitors to Emporia.

While Visit Emporia is an important cog in our local tourism industry, we recognize that it takes a village to cultivate such a strong tourism economy. In 2023, we strengthened relationships with tourism partners locally and beyond to not only attract more visitors but also enhance the visitor experience.

We are excited to share with you in the following pages the many ways that Visit Emporia worked to bring more visitors into our community and created memorable experiences that inspired visitors to return time and again.

Thank You,

LeLan Dains Director lelan@visitemporia.com Kelly Mayer Public Relations Manager kelly@visitemporia.com 719 Commercial St Emporia, Kansas 620-342-1600 visitemporia.com Visit Emporia is a function of
Destination Stewardship Marketing Destination Development THREE PART STRATEGY VISIT EMPORIA’S 2

MARKETING

Visit Emporia focuses on reaching out to known target audiences, identifying new audiences, and marketing after arrival to circulate visitors throughout the community. Our marketing strategy falls into four broad categories, outlined below. We promote Emporia’s unique features, local businesses, cultural experiences, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities to entice visitors, with an emphasis on diversity and bilingual communication.

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OUTREACH TO TRAVELERS ALONG I-35

Who they are: Travelers for whom Emporia is not the final destination. This category spans all demographic and income groups, and includes travel for both business and personal reasons. They are the largest segment that contributes to TGT.

Goal: To pull current travelers off the highway, as well as reach those who are planning future travel along I-35. Encourage these travelers to choose Emporia as a place for rest, food, or leisure breaks on their trip.

Campaigns: Visit Emporia produced extensive information both online and offline, and ran multiple campaigns for this category of traveler. Campaign topics were targeted to the needs of specific subgroups, including families, budget conscious travelers, and travelers simply looking for a quick, convenient stop.

Primary Markets: Communities along I-35, extending from Minnesota to Texas, including the major metros of Wichita, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and Dallas, as well as Missouri I-70 travelers turning south at KC.

How do we reach them?

y Billboards

y Backlit posters at travel centers

y Brochures placed at travel centers

y Targeted website landing pages

y Digital ad campaigns, including campaigns through Datafy platform

y Remarketing campaigns

DATAFY RESULTS FOR I-35 TRAVELER CAMPAIGNS

In 2023, two digital campaigns were created with Datafy, which tracks presence of visitors in Emporia using cell phone data. The data provides attribution linking visitors with the ad campaign shown. These two campaigns alone resulted in:

15,547

1,604

1,787

$1.5 million economic impact

19.7%

total visits to Emporia from 50+ miles away
hotel room nights from 50+ miles away
visits to Downtown from 50+ miles away
same
increase in total trips vs.
period in 2022
based on avg. room rates & spend
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MARKETING

OUTREACH TO DESTINATION EMPORIA LEISURE TRAVELERS

Who they are: Travelers for whom Emporia is the destination. We break this category down into various subgroups, a few of which are highlighted in the results below.

Goal: To grow day and weekend trips to Emporia, outside of events.

Campaigns: Visit Emporia produced extensive information both online and offline, and ran multiple campaigns for this category. Subgroups marketed to include family leisure travelers, travelers seeking unique dining/shopping experiences, couples, girls getaway travelers, casual disc golfers, and newly identified audiences of Jeep enthusiasts and Latino travelers, which were both areas of growth.

Primary Markets: Communities more than 50 miles away, but within a 200 mile radius around Emporia.

DISC GOLF

LATINO

How do we reach them?

y Print ads

y Radio ads

y Emporia Community Guide

y Brochures and pocket guides

y Digital ads and remarketing campaigns

y YouTube video campaigns

y Email marketing

y Blog

y Social media

y Influencer content from KC content creators

y General website

y Targeted website landing pages

RESULTS & BIGGEST AREAS OF GROWTH IN 2023:

CASUAL DISC GOLFERS

#1

most viewed attraction on website with 5,441 views

732,429 views of Youtube ad with 32% watching entire video

26,344 visitors to Disc Golf Parks* from 50+ miles away

18% more trips to Disc Golf Parks* from 50+ miles vs. 2022

Visit Emporia implemented several tactics to reach casual disc golfers in 2023, including a targeted website landing page which showcases Emporia as a “disc golf road trip” destination. We created a digital video campaign shown to disc golfers within 200 miles, as well as printed Disc Golf Pocket Guides to circulate visitors to area parks.

*Marketing was focused on day/weekend trips outside of events, so these number EXCLUDE the entire months of April and July when major disc golf events occurred.

LATINOS & SPANISH LANGUAGE SPEAKERS

As part of our 2023 strategy to welcome and grow Latino travelers, Visit Emporia:

25,105 increase in Hispanic Visitors from 50+ miles vs. 2022

y Implemented Spanish language translation on visitemporia.com

y Produced and distributed 2,500 Community Guides in Spanish for the first time ever

y Ran targeted radio ads in Spanish language in the Wichita and Kansas City DMA areas

y Increased imagery showing Emporia’s authentic diversity throughout our marketing

JEEPING/SUV TRIP ENTHUSIASTS

#2

902

8x

85%

Visit Emporia created a series of gravel routes for Jeep and SUV owners to explore areas of flint hills that are not easily accessible by car. The routes are a creative way to leverage our local landscape assets, and include downloadable maps and safety info. Our Jeeping campaigns generated high engagement, outperforming nearly all other leisure travel subgroups. We also received high praise from TIAK for the cover image of Jeeping on our 2023 Community Guide. The Kansas Travel Guide is now following Emporia’s lead, featuring Jeeping on their 2024 guide cover for the first time.

other
more engagement with QRs vs
attractions
downloads of map/gps files (indicates high intent to visit)
most viewed attraction on website with 5,133 views
map/gps downloaders located outside of Kansas
JEEPING
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DISTRIBUTED:

17,500 Community Guides

2,500

Spanish Language Community Guides

20,000

Best of Brochures

Emporia’s greatest successes are homegrown events. With Emporia’s big sporting events already filling hotels to capacity, we have focused our resources on promoting and supporting smaller events that demonstrate capacity for growth. Additionally, our website heavily promotes smaller group meetings, weddings, sporting, and team building activities that are a good fit for the majority of our community’s current amenities and venues. In 2023, Visit Emporia:

y Awarded support grants and provided enhancements to grow smaller events (see our Destination Development strategy on page 6).

y Promoted smaller events via sponsored placements on the state’s travelks.com website.

y Created an email marketing campaign promoting local events, sent out weekly to subscribers. Currently, the campaign has 1002 active subscribers, with 24% being from the Emporia area, 20% from Kansas but more than 50+ miles away, 15% from neighboring states, and 17% from other states.

y Had 3,292 visits to meeting & event planning information online.

y Promoted 41 event venues, and 57 event vendors (catering, transportation and party) via our website.

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OUTREACH FOR EVENT AND MEETING RELATED TRAVEL IN TOWN MARKETING

Our in-town marketing is focused on circulating visitors who are already here throughout the community, especially from Northwest Hotels to locally owned businesses and Downtown Emporia:

y Guides and brochures placed at all local hotels

y 3 award winning guidestands placed strategically around town provide 24/7/365 access to Community Guides.

y Visit Emporia worked on-site at marquee community events to distribute visitor information, Visit Emporia SWAG, answer questions, and provide recommendations to visitors.

PROMOTED ONLINE AND IN PRINT:

290 Events

127

Locally owned (non-chain) shops, restaurants, bars, and tourism related businesses at no cost to them

25 City owned or TGT funded attractions and parks

12 ESU attractions and both colleges promoted as meeting venues

AWARDS:

TIAK Best in Show for Emporia Community Guide

TIAK Honorable Mention for Visit Emporia Pledge

2023 STATS
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DESTINATION DEVELOPMENT

Our Destination Development strategy aims to improve the quality of our destination and strengthen relationships and partnerships that will make tourism a vibrant, healthy, and manageable component of the local economy. Priority is placed on enhancing the experience at key attractions and developing underutilized spaces and services.

$30,000 invested in public art

320+ check-ins at Radius & Trolley House

$15,000 support grants awarded

COMMUNITY ARTS ALLIANCE

Visit Emporia supported the creation of 3 public art projects, totalling over $30k invested: Faces of Emporia Mural at 9th & Commercial green space

Hispanic Heritage Mural at 6th & Mechanic

Trolley House Community Mural at South Commercial & Potwin Ave

PUTTING EMPORIA ON THE MAP WITH REGIONAL PARTNERS

Launched Gravel Kansas - Spearheaded by Visit Emporia, Gravel Kansas is a statewide route creation initiative that is connecting people to places. Our aim is to share the love of gravel with the world while making Kansas the world’s premier cycling destination. The gravelks.com website launched at the end of October 2023 and received 1,800 views in the last two months of the year. The initiative has been championed by the Lieutenant Governor of Kansas and was awarded a $10,000 support grant from Kansas Tourism. Gravel Kansas has received press coverage in regional and national publications. We are excited to grow this initiative, and proud to have taken the lead in a movement that will benefit the entire state.

Launched METL Prairie Pour Tour - More than 800 people from 12 different states signed up for the first ever Prairie Pour Tour, a collaboration between Visit Emporia, Visit Manhattan, Visit Topeka, and Explore Lawrence. Those individuals combined for more than 2,600 check-ins at 14 participating locations. Emporia venues received over 320+ check-ins as a result of the campaign.

ENHANCEMENTS TO EXISTING EVENTS & ATTRACTIONS

y Brought in a stilt walker and fire dancers to enhance Dia de los Muertos.

y Continued support of H2E music festival by sponsoring our community’s first CCA.

y Hosted The Great Race with hundreds in attendance and lauded as one of the best lunch stops on the route.

y Enhanced the visitor experience at the zoo with interactive sidewalk graphics.

TOURISM GRANTS

y Supported the start up and continued growth of local events/attractions by allocating $15,000 for tourism support grants.

EMPOVÍA

y This event saw growth in year 2 with around 250 people in attendance. We continue to learn the possibilities of large-scale community events at Peter Pan Park.

LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATION:

y Director LeLan Dains gave two presentations at the 2023 TIAK State Tourism Conference on Spanish Language Marketing and What If? Tourism Undefined.

y Staff attended the Kansas Big Rural Brainstorm, SEKTR, Flint Hills Tourism Coalition, Destination Statehouse, and KS Art Symposium to share ideas, learn, and collaborate with peers in the region.

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DESTINATION STEWARDSHIP

Visit Emporia is committed to being good stewards of our lands as well as promoting diversity in tourism. Promoting positive social, environmental, and cultural interactions is a key focus.

VISIT EMPORIA PLEDGE

In February 2023, Emporia became the first city in Kansas to implement a sustainable tourism initiative, by launching the Visit Emporia Pledge. The pledge encourages locals and visitors alike to recognize and preserve the area’s unique ecosystem and cultural diversity. In addition to signing the pledge, individuals can volunteer for clean-up activities or donate to clean-up and preservation projects. Visit Emporia produced decals (printed and digital) for businesses and individuals to display their support for the initiative. The pledge page on visitemporia.com has been viewed 9,047 times, and the campaign received an honorable mention at the TIAK State Tourism Conference.

CLEAN UPS

Visit Emporia co-led the clean up initiative after Unbound Gravel to demonstrate our commitment to sustainable tourism and preservation of the Flint Hills.

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OVERALL TOURISM IMPACT

VISITORS STATS FROM

All numbers shown are visitors from at least 50 miles distance.

Where did visitors come from?

Trips to TGT attractions (Zoo, Granada Theatre, EAC, LCHS, Red Rocks)

Top DMAs (Designated Market Areas)

TRANSIENT GUEST TAX FUND (TGT) STATS

For the second year in a row, the city of Emporia posted a record for TGT, topping just over $850,000 in revenue. This was a 10% increase over last year’s record setting sum, and 20% over the previous pre-covid mark in 2019. TGT increased because both the Average Daily Rate and occupancy numbers are up. This is supported by the data from Datafy that indicates that both unique visitors and trips to Emporia were up in 2023.

FAQs

What is Datafy?

Datafy is a data collection, attribution, and advertising platform designed to calculate physical visits to a community or point of interest. Datafy tracks physical presence in Emporia using cell phone geolocation. Advertising campaigns through Datafy’s platform can be tracked with attribution linking visitors with the ad campaign shown.

How do we use Datafy?

We utilize Datafy to track visits to Emporia as a whole, as well as visits to individual attractions, hotels, parks, colleges, and downtown. Datafy allows us to see trends in visitor traffic month-to-month as well as year over year. For our purposes, a “visitor” is defined as someone traveling from at least 50 miles away, which filters out residents and commuters from the surrounding area.

We also use Datafy to measure effectiveness of specific digital ad campaigns. Due to expense, not all digital ad campaigns all run through Datafy, but information from Datafy campaigns is used to guide marketing decisions for other platforms and outlets.

What is the Transient Guest Tax?

The Transient Guest Tax (TGT) is a tax imposed on guests of hotels or guests of any type of lodging with at least 2 rooms. It is a “bed tax” paid by visitors rather than local Emporians. TGT is mandated by the state of Kansas to be reinvested in tourism related activities and tourism promotion. Visit Emporia is funded by TGT.

10% growth in TGT Fund
$850K total TGT Revenue 8
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