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2011 Annual Report Merriam Visitors Bureau


Weathering the storm… Have you ever heard the saying, “if you don’t like the weather in Kansas, come back tomorrow?” It’s true. The weather can change in a moment’s notice here in our beautiful state, and apparently, so too can the changing tide of this unpredictable economy. Moving beyond the recession proved to be an enormous challenge for destinations across the globe. Fortunately for Merriam, the 2011 tourism economy fared remarkably better than in recent years’ past. In fact, according to Smith Travel Research, Merriam hotel revenue increased 8.6% over 2010 earnings. Although we were able to see a positive shift on the horizon early in the year, history has also taught us to tighten our belts in preparation of those uncertain rainy days which can come in a flash. Due in no small part to the operational efficiencies of our part-time staff and the combined efforts of numerous beneficial partnerships, the Bureau was once again able to complete the year in a positive financial position without compromising our unparalleled service to those who choose to visit our community. We recognize that visitors are faced with millions of travel decisions every single day. From where to go and what to do, to how to get there and where to sleep, we appreciate and are humbled by those who include Merriam, Kansas in their itineraries. Whether on business or pleasure here in Merriam, we thank you for your continued patronage of our community and welcome you back again and again. Thanks for making 2011 a refreshing year. --

Karen Crane CTA KDS

Director, Merriam Visitors Bureau


2011 numbers at a glance •

Merriam generated 114, 487 hotel room nights

Johnson County ranks 1st amongst 25 Kansas counties in hotel demand and revenue

One in every nine Kansas citizens work in travel and tourism which makes the industry the 3rd largest employer in the State

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These numbers equal $800 in tax savings per Kansas household The top six markets to the Kansas City region are:

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Missouri (27.2%) Oklahoma (6%)

Kansas (20.2%) Nebraska (5.1%)

Iowa (5.1%)

Texas (4.8%)

63% of overnight leisure guests to Kansas City came to visit friends and relatives (VFR). Over half these guests stay in hotels. Top 10 Activities include: Shopping (40%) Fine Dining (21%) Casino (15%) Museum (13%) Swimming (10%) Nightlife (10%) Business Meetings (9%) Theme Park (6%) Pro/College Sports Events (6%)

Visitors to KC’s 5-county region spent a total of $2.567 billion: Lodging (26.4%) Food & Beverage (22.8%) Shopping (19.4%) Local & Air Transportation (18.4%) Recreation (13.0%)


Partnerships, Events & Training Without cooperative partnerships and valuable connections, Merriam would not be able to reach near the market, nor mass number of people that we can by working with others in the industry. From packaged travel options to shared advertising, we closely consider every opportunity to reach out to our target markets with partners in our region. • Year two, in-market “visiting friends and relatives” campaign which encourages residents in the regional Kansas City area to invite friends and family to come for a visit, stay longer and do more. • TourKANSAS “Meet Me in St. Louis” Group Travel Showcase. Twenty-five vendors, one day, one room and tons of itineraries for the group travel planner to consider in Kansas. Merriam attended and confirmed a booking on-site, plus over 30 new planners now have detailed access to Merriam’s tour product and offerings. • Hosted a morning coffee break with the chamber while local business K.C. Strings provided breakfast and a tour of their retail space, wood shop and music conservatory. Chamber members learned about the explosive impact of travel and tourism while getting a sneak peek at this exclusive and preferred tour stop in Merriam. • During National Tourism Week, welcomed thousands of baseball fans to Kauffman Stadium during the “Hospitality & Tourism Day at the K” event. • Met with 88 association executives during the annual Kansas Society of Association Executives expo to share meeting space and service options in Merriam. • Hosted a hospitality service training (Certified Tourism Ambassador) which awarded six new CTA’s from Merriam hotels. • Presented “Tourism IS Economic Development” to the 2011 Leadership Northeast Class and a Merriam Historic Plaza welcome and guest presentation to the Merriam Homemakers Club. • Welcomed residents and visitors to Merriam Historic Plaza’s five-year open house anniversary!


Marketing •

Merriam Visitors Bureau launched 19 print and online marketing messages reaching over 1.9 million people in 2011.

Merriam (in partnership with the I-35 Tourism Coalition) launched a “Road trip Along I-35 Contest” through the Kansas Tourism e-blast program which hits 10,000 inboxes.

Merriam spiked our social media postings in 2011 engaging over 56,000 annual impressions through all social media outlets. By offering fan contests, specials offers and valueadded posts, engagement increases which ultimately helps spread our messages even further, for FREE!

Reaching out to local member businesses, Merriam participated in the Chamber’s annual directory and map of the region with our offer to assist with company meeting planning requests and/or incoming client needs.

Voted the #1 destination in the state of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas was a new ad placement for Merriam in 2011. Distributed to 50,000 people, the KCKS visitor guide offered both exposure and affordability for Merriam.

Group tours are always popular in Merriam, especially since our itinerary includes the world renowned K.C. Strings Violin Shop, Guitar Lamp and Georgetown Pharmacy Soda Shop.

KC Map in My Pocket (new map and text offer program) provided Merriam with exposure to 100,000 people and limitless text offers at a cost of 0.005/impression – this new map flies off the shelves at the Bureau office.


More Marketing (it’s what we do) •

Partnering with the Parks & Recreation Department to showcase meeting facilities in our city, Merriam advertised in the Kansas City Meetings Industry Council 2011 Speaker’s Showcase event program. This ad targeted an exclusive group of meeting planners we typically do not have access to.

AAA advertisements are continually effective for Merriam because our message is targeted to four of the biggest state markets to our community (Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri).

Continual exposure in the Kansas Travel Guide and online at www.travelks.com keeps Merriam front and center to travelers looking at Kansas City as a destination or stopping point en-route to another location. Merriam CVB maintains over 15 listings of Merriam hotels, events, attractions and recreation so travelers can easily find us within the state’s website,--which by the way, generates 45,000 page views per day.

Geocaching remains a strong activity in Merriam with over 300 cache finds in 2011 (of those reported). Cachers find and log their successful (and sometimes not) finds on our cache list. This outdoor eco-friendly tourism activity is a great way to involve the entire family and often yields gifts, kind words and photos of cachers with their geocache loot.

Got Cheer? was the theme of the 2011 holiday contest as we sent our visitors on a hunt to find an ornament placed in Merriam. Those who found it had the chance to answer the trivia question to receive a prize and a chance to win an overnight package in Merriam!


Thank You! On behalf of the Merriam Visitors Bureau, we thank you for supporting our community and the travel and tourism industry. Please let us know if we can be of any assistance “down the road.� Best wishes in 2012!

Geocacher Rob W. says: Found this cache on an awesome Sunday afternoon! This is a really nice visitors center, and the bears were really neat! We didn't have to worry about any muggles. Took wooden nickel, left trackable. Thanks for the cache, and thanks for bringing us here! General Manager Monica M. says: The Hampton Inn & Suites is proud to be a partner with the Merriam CVB over the last few years. The hard work and dedication shown by the bureau in creatively promoting the hotels and businesses in Merriam is instrumental in bringing travelers to our area. Karen and her team are amazing ambassadors for tourism in Merriam Kansas. Showcase attendee Connie S. with AAA says: I just got back to the office from attending. It was awesome! I learned so much and gathered some great information and ideas for group trips. I manage 17 Independent Travel Agents that work out of their home and many of them plan group trips. I plan to share the information with them and will also share it with our Group Meetings/Incentives department. Thank you again!

Merriam Visitors Bureau 6304 E. Frontage Road Merriam, KS 66202 P: 913.403.8999 | F: 913.789.0961 www.exploremerriam.com


Merriam Visitors Bureau 2011 Annual Report