2020 Annual Report

Page 1


20 20

Released: March 2021

CONT ENTS 2020 Annual Report

Agency Overview


Messages from the President & Board Chair


Mission, Goal, Vision, Values & Diversity Inclusion Statement


Pillar Alignment & Strategic Direction


Financial Overview

Departmental Review


Finance & Operations





Organizational Structure


Board of Directors




Strategic Partners, Awards, Community Service, & Advisory Committees


Message from the President & Board Chair AN INDUSTRY THAT CAPITALIZES ON OPPORTUNITY, A RESILIENT CITY…CITY WITH SOUL How do you react and review the productivity of the destination marketing organization during a global pandemic? As Chair of the Board of Directors and President & CEO of Visit Jackson, our response to that question remains by employing the highest transparency and openness levels. To that end, it is our responsibility and honor to present Visit Jackson’s 2020 Annual Report to our stakeholders.

2020 began with the release and implementation of a new strategic plan, the dedication of new office space in the Historic Electric Building, and the JXN Welcome Center’s grand opening. New coalitions were initiated, including developing the Greater Jackson destination alliances, which secured new international business shared by the destinations. The overarching theme of this report is the necessity to utilize a fluid strategic approach. Visit Jackson has participated in disaster preparedness seminars at countless tourism conferences over the past several years. However, we think it is fair to state that no one was prepared for the external environmental factors associated with the Coronavirus Global Pandemic. Because of this, health, governmental, industry, and community-based alliances have been forged, establishing tourism resiliency and economic endurance; Visit Jackson simply calls it City With Soul STRONG! So, while our FY2020 Plan was vetted, developed, and approved, March 2020 introduced the necessity to call an audible. One of the first tactics Visit Jackson engaged was to join the other 24 Mississippi destination marketing organizations in lobbying the state leadership and legislature to request a lifeline for Mississippi Tourism. As a part of that collective ambition, Visit Jackson received a pro-rata share of the awarded Tourism Recovery Fund (TRF). While traditional revenue was


2020 Annual Report

Typically, annual reports describe the organizational and financial health of an agency. Our goal is to adhere to industry best practices within the next few pages and provide the included data concisely and accurately.

down, TRF was used to shift marketing strategies to include establishing Jackson as a more significant local drive market, which encouraged dining pick-up and carry-out, create aggressive marketing campaigns promoting Civil Rights, Culinary, Family, Outdoor, and Staycation tourism experiences.

2020 Annual Report

TRF was also used to incentivize meeting planners to reschedule and NOT cancel the larger meetings that utilize hotels and meeting venues. For the first time in Jackson’s DMOs history, significant resources were dedicated to secure research, thereby contributing to data-based tactical planning. We hope you have observed tourism development initiatives in the form of public art in and around Jackson. We are extremely proud of the “JXN Icons” mural inspired by our own Creative Design Manager and 100% executed by Visit Jackson staff. The sales and marketing departments spent significant resources emphasizing the destination’s value in the online, virtual, and digital media spaces. In short, inspired by necessity, 2020 was a transformational year that has further propelled Visit Jackson’s OPPORTUNITY. And while this has been a challenging year, the results are in! Mississippi Tourism is leading the nation in tourism recovery, and the Tourism Stakeholders in its Capital City are looking good! Your committed and dedicated tourism partners,


Rickey L. Thigpen, MSL President & CEO Visit Jackson

Carol Burger Carol Burger Board Chair Visit Jackson


Mission The Mission of Visit Jackson is to connect, engage and inspire the Jackson community to be a welcoming destination for conventions, meetings, sporting events, and special events, resulting in rich, cultural, and memorable experiences with a rewarding sense-of-place for visitors and an economically beneficial and an enhanced quality-of-life for residents.

Goal The overall goal of Visit Jackson is to cause major economic impact for Jackson through programs designed to identify, attract and service conventions and meetings, trade shows, group tours, sporting events, and consumer travelers, while cultivating relationships with stakeholders, the value of citizen contributions, and the collective quality of life of the destination.


Values Integrity


We are fair, honest and transparent, inspiring trust in others.

We respect, nurture, support and empower one another.


We uphold the spirit of our community; the goal of our organization, and we are committed to making our jobs and the jobs of our co-workers’ fun on a consistent basis.


We respect and understand the importance of our bureau’s mission, take pride in being an integral part of its success, and are committed to aggressively upholding the principles of diversity, inclusion and hospitality.

Diversity Inclusion Statement Visit Jackson is fiercely committed to reflecting and upholding the value of diversity of thought, culture, and lifestyles that is inherent in the Jackson community. We are dedicated to practicing radical inclusion and believe that a plurality of ideas and experiences shaped around civil dialogue and equitable outreach is the driving and consistent force that makes Jackson a great destination and a great city.


2020 Annual Report

To be recognized and respected as an innovative destination marketing organization that sustainably achieves economic vitality and success through the constant, complete, and fully committed practice of our shared values in the promotion of Jackson, Mississippi, as a world-class destination city.

About Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau dba Visit Jackson

2020 Annual Report

The Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau dba Visit Jackson is the official destination leadership organization for the City of Jackson. It serves the Jackson Community by positively impacting the city’s economy through recruitment and securing meetings and tourism activities. Visit Jackson is a quasi-independent governmental agency created by the Mississippi State Legislature.


Pillar Alignment & Strategic Direction Educate Stakeholders of the Purpose of a DMO To further explain the purpose of a Destination Management Organization (DMO) within the Jackson Community, Visit Jackson will implement tactics to assist in clarifying the role and goals of a DMO. According to TripSavvy Magazine, a DMO should play a key role in the long-term development of a destination, by formulating an effective travel and tourism strategy. For visitors, DMO should serve as a gateway to a destination. They offer the most current information about a destination’s attractions. Build Proponents of Visit Jackson within the Community All DMOs are under increasing pressure to validate the business case for their funding, hence, DMOs are expanding their roles in their communities and their business models. Hence, last year, Destination International, the world's largest and most reliable resource for destination organizations, introduced The New Tourism Lexicon.

Support conference hotel adjacent to JCC The development of a conference center hotel is essential to the further development to the Downtown Convention District specifically and Jackson’s Tourism industry in general. A hotel that is physically attached or in close proximity is necessary to grow group and convention business in Jackson. The hotel development project must be accompanied by national brand integrity to maximize effectiveness to the hotel and convention district. Focus on importing one main attraction To further position Jackson as a destination city, tourism development assets must be a priority. Jacksonians have expressed an interest in a strong event for the area with regional marketability potential. Tourism Development initiatives will be helpful in growing destination awareness and establishing stronger tourism viability confidence for visitors and locals.


2020 Annual Report

Create Jackson Metropolitan Tourism Association Visit Jackson Stakeholders have requested a stronger regional tourism presence to promote the Greater Jackson Area as a tourism destination. Because Jackson is the Capital City and because of its geographical location, it possesses a strong “hub city” position, many visitors and locals do not know when they leave the “City” and enter a bedroom community. Therefore, some collaborative promotional efforts could be impactful for the whole of the Metropolitan Committee.

Other Strategic Focus Areas Restart Booking Business Amidst all the convention and meeting cancellations, postponements, and budget adjustments due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Visit Jackson is committed to remaining supportive and relevant with our meeting planners. Meeting and convention recruitment remains a top priority for Visit Jackson. Throughout the pandemic, it has been the goal of the convention and sales department to be innovative, keeping planners engaged to position Jackson, Mississippi, as a top-of-mind opportunity.

2020 Annual Report

Sustainable Tourism Sustainable Tourism is an industry trend that not only entices new visitors to our area, but it produces a positive impact on our community for years to come. Visit Jackson is committed to introducing internal tactics and encouraging partners to consider new sustainable practices. Visit Jackson has developed projects that will result in positive changes for the organization and industry. Increase Visitor Demand In Jackson The Visit Jackson sales team will continue to develop strategies and tactics to improve awareness of the destination among meeting planners and will provide immediate decision-making information about our properties, attractions and services. The sales teams will continue to participate in trade shows, familiarization trips, sales missions, and other direct selling activities to promote Jackson. We will continue to plan, and coordinate sales calls in conjunction with hotel partners and meeting facilities in markets where organizations that represent our top vertical markets are located. Strengthen Brand Awareness & Destination Pride Strengthening Brand Awareness and Destination Pride is the proper course for any destination management organization to survive. Now, more so than ever, stakeholders and their constituent base need to see positive impacts of tourism promotion and sales efforts. Visit Jackson has launched local initiatives through its City With Soul and MY CITY brands in order to produce more exposure of those brands in the community. It is important that our locals embrace those brands and understand the economic impact tourists bring to a city.


Financial Overview Restaurant & Occupancy Revenue

FY 2019

FY 2020












Tax Return on Total DMO Public Funding: 3.6% (Total tax produced by visitor spend/Visit Jackson revenue = $10.9m/$3m)

FY 2020 Expenditures: $2,965,430 50 40

20 10 0

0% --

3% 106,433

FY 2019 Expenditures: $4,052,679

*Overall expenditures decreased in FY 20 resulting in higher personnel. **Includes sales and marketing efforts.


**Tourism Recovery


11% 445,772

5% 193,123



5% 215,892


29% 1,169,849




12% 487,276


35% 1,434,334






2020 Annual Report

12% 343,149

2% 62,206

16% 467,739

6% 167,585

4% 132,997

9% 272,132

6% 177,790

45% 1,341,832


2020 Annual Report

Return on Operating Cost: 12.72% (10.2% in FY 2019) (Visitor Spend generated by Visit Jackson efforts/Total operating cost = $36.9m/$2.9m)

Tourism Recovery Funds (TRF)

$1.35M Received in August 2020 Recognized $315K as revenue based on expenditures as of September 30, 2020.


Finance & Operations 2020 Key Accomplishments In 2020, Visit Jackson celebrated the grand opening and relocation of its office to 308 East Pearl Street. The new location provides the opportunity to open a long anticipated JXN Welcome Center. The Center’s grand opening was held January 10, 2020 and was operational until mid-March when it was closed due to COVID-19. It reopened in October of 2020. Even though the Center was closed most of the year, VJ was able to establish a Web Store which provided Visit Jackson branded merchandise to the public. Visit Jackson was also able to establish a JXN Welcome Center Partnership with Visit Mississippi. The State partnership makes it possible for all Mississippi destination marketing materials to be distributed in the JXN Welcome Center.

JXN Welcome Center Revenue


Visit Mississippi Advertising Partnership



2020 Annual Report

Merchandise Sales

2020 Annual Report

In FY 2019, Visit Jackson adopted a diversity and inclusion statement. In FY 2020, that goal was strengthened through a variety of tactics: • Supported the State Tourism Initiative to change the State Flag. • Initiated techniques to assist visitors who have hearing, vision and language barriers. • Partnered with Human Rights Campaign Mississippi to increase the City of Jackson’s Municipal Equality Index (MEI) to an 80 out of 100, which is well above the national average and the highest in the state by almost double.

Other Key Accomplishments • Established a Reserve Fund Policy • Worked to secure renewal for the Destination International Accreditation Program (DMAP) • Established a Visitor Discount Program • Continued to support Visit Jackson’s Signature Events, Hometown Hero Awards Program & Miss Hospitality • Launched new grant program and online platform • Applications • Attractions • 10 partners applied and were awarded a total of up to $87K • 9 grants were paid, $37,500. • Festivals & Events • 29 applied. • 6 applicants received in-house marketing and technical assistance. • 15 events were awarded a total of up to $75K • Total actual awards received, $58K.


TRF Funds

2020 Annual Report


Utilizing COVID-19 Tourism Recovery funds, Visit Jackson produced two different campaigns – one for Visit Jackson’s “City With Soul” campaign, which has an external travel audience target, and one for the “My City” brand which is aimed primarily at Jackson and Greater Jackson area residents.

2020 Annual Report

Visit Jackson produced four video assets for the “City With Soul” campaign, each focused on the city’s unique experiences calling within the city’s primary vertical market themes, including Civil Rights, Dining, Adventure, and Family-Oriented Attractions. Each marketing asset for this segment of the campaign also featured locally produced original music. The campaign was deployed through multi-media channels including video pre-roll, connected TV, traditional broadcast mediums, print publications, and social media platforms, geo-targeted to Jackson’s feeder markets. Visit Jackson’s efforts for the “My City” brand expands an ongoing campaign encouraging Greater Jackson residents to “rediscover Mississippi’s Capital City.” This marketing effort targets these residents – especially suburban dwellers – to take ownership of Jackson as “their city, too.” The COVID-19 recovery campaign for “My City” took a unique approach using vlog-style storytelling, focused on encouraging area residents to get out and rediscover various aspects of the city. The campaign was primarily deployed on social media platforms and on Visit Jackson’s content marketing channels. Both campaigns underscored precautions and measures taken across the city to ensure the health and safety of visitors. #SafelyExploreJXN and #VisitMSResponsibly.

Data-Drive Decisions and KPI’s During FY 20 Visit Jackson continued to invest resources to execute valuable research. Opportunities to evaluate data and to make data driven and strategic decisions, enhances Jackson Tourism’s opportunity for success in the competitive marketplace. In addition to ongoing programs, the organization was able to obtain Jackson specific data from an outside research company. While the process started in FY 20, results were not delivered until Fall of 2020. Key performance indicators, also known as KPIs, help you measure and assess the effectiveness of your business's solutions, functions, and processes. KPIs consider your business's strategic goals and measure performance against a specific target, defined from a strategic, planning, or budget point of view.


Visitor Analysis For the purpose of this campaign, Visit Jackson defines a visitor as someone who does not live or work within 50 miles of the destination.

What Do Our Visitors Like to Do? 52

None of These


Historic Places


Cultural Activities/Attractions


Exceptional Culinary Experiences


Religious Travel


Winery Tours/Tasting




Brewery Tours/Beer Tasting


Medical Tourism






Marijuana Tourism





25% Season of Trip

Total Day Person - Trips





Traveling with Grandchildren Family Reunion







Visit Jackson Travel Industry Impact

Tourism Payroll

In 2020, Visit Jackson’s support of events & meetings prompted: • $36.9 million in direct traveler spend • Generated a total of $63.6 million in economic output • Supported over 25K jobs within Jackson

$18.4M total tourism payroll

Direct Tourism Spending (compared to MS & Federal)



$11.3M wages shared by Jackson workers directly employed by travel as compared to State & Federal:




$36.9 million

$6.7 billion

$1.1 trillion

Fed: $277.4B • MS: $3.23B

2020 Annual Report

Film Tourism

2020 Annual Report

Jackson Tourism generated $10.9M in total tax revenue for federal, state & local taxes.

Total tax revenue generated by travel spending for federal, state & local governments:


Local Tax Total


MS Tax Total

Tourism offset local property tax by $1.5 million


Federal Tax Total 0



12 Millions

Local: $10.9 million MS: $1 billion Federal: $179.7 billion

Marketing In 2020, Visit Jackson’s marketing efforts focused on revitalizing the destination brand, introducing the strategic destination pillars, strengthening the reputation of the organization, showcasing Jackson’s diversity and multicultural offerings, all while maintaining steady growth in traditional advertising and marketing KPIs. As soon as COVID-19 cases were being reported in Mississippi, Visit Jackson paused (eventually, stopping) all ongoing advertising. Creative messaging was developed and deployed to support public health information, partner and stakeholder updates, and short-term marketing campaigns. Eventually, Visit Jackson started inviting people to visit the City With Soul in a safe manner which culminated with the Tourism Recovery Fund that launched in late September.


Jackson Mobile Baton Rouge

2020 Annual Report

Target Markets Social Media Channels Twitter • Engagements – up 253% YOY • Impressions – up 210% YOY Facebook • Engagements – up 38.4% YOY • Impressions – down 44.8% YOY Instagram • Engagements – up 37.1% YOY • Impressions – up 2.1% YOY Soul Sessions • Podcasts - 7 • Plays - 409


YouTube • Views 52,055 (previous year, 125,635) • Watch Time – 5,783.50 hours (previous 1,691.70 hours) • Published Videos - 9

Websites Visitjackson.com • Sessions - down 22.45% (91,023 vs. 117.376) YOY • Pageviews - up 38.56% (304,125 vs. 219,493) YOY • Session duration - up 51.01% (2:28 vs. 1:38) YOY • Organic searches – down 41.93% (22,132 vs. 38,111) YOY

My City JXN.MS • Sessions - up 239.24% (52,464 vs. 15,465) • Pageviews – up 205.54% (65,189 vs. 21,336) • Session duration down 28.94% (:36 vs. :50) • Organic searches – up 518.50% (3,043 vs. 492) MyCity TV • Episodes – 30 • Total Views – 36,914

2020 Annual Report

Email Marketing • Sends – 120,723 (vs. 14,527 in FY19) • Open Rate – 23% (29% in FY19) • Click Rate – 14% (15% in FY19)


2020 Annual Report


Partners/ Contacts



Visitor Guides Distributed










Hand Sanitizers





Inquiries/Visitor Guides 3,053 Visitors Guides requested and mailed in addition to 1,193 Tour Guide reads on e-reader. Supplied 18,871 Visitors Guides to meetings and convention delegates.


Sales Before the onset of COVID-19, the Visit Jackson sales department was on target to surpass the sales numbers achieved in 2019. Jackson was experiencing growth in the association, education, and sports markets, and both group and international tours. The sales team was projected to finish 2020 with approximately 50,500 room nights.

The sales team remained vigilant and creative throughout the pandemic, hosting two Virtual Meeting Planner FAM's and a Virtual Group Tour FAM. To help encourage meeting planners to continue to book meetings, Visit Jackson launched a Financial Incentive Program in addition to the traditional underwriting program. This program helped hotel partners secure meetings that, due to COVID-19, may not have had the financial resources to execute conventional face-to-face meetings.

2020 Annual Report

With the start of COVID-19, Jackson experienced a considerable loss in meetings and group and international tours. As other market segments began to taper off, fortunately, outdoor sports,

such as equine and cheerleading, were able to continue with proper guidance.


International Tour Visitation Visitation 196 groups/visitors in 2020 vs. 3,298 in 2019 vs. 3,477 in 2018



















Number of Events Room Nights Booked Attendance DATA from STR Report: Occupancy Average Daily Rate (ADR)

Room Nights by Markets 2019 & 2020 2020




























Group Tour










International Tours TOTAL







2020 Annual Report


FY 2019-20

Board of Directors Carol J. Burger Business Community, Chair

Susan Branson Attractions

Blake Brennan Restaurant Community

Mike Burton 2020 Annual Report

Hotel Community

Shawn Cochran Hotel Community

Monique Davis Education

Shura Garnett OVG Facilities

Pamela Junior Arts

John Miller At-Large

Enrika Williams Restaurant Community


Staff Directory Rickey Thigpen President & CEO RThigpen@visitjackson.com

Jennifer Chance VP of Finance/Operations JChance@visitjackson.com

Shun Hatten


Jonathan Pettus VP of Marketing JPettus@visitjackson.com

Jennifer Byrd Convention Sales Manager JByrd@visitjackson.com

Amy Dillard Administrative Manager ADillard@visitjackson.com

Michael Hogg Director of Data & Technical Services MHogg@visitjackson.com


2020 Annual Report

VP of Convention Sales & Services

Kim Lewis Communications & Destination Development Manager KLewis@visitjackson.com

Christine McInnis Services Director CMcInnis@visitjackson.com

Reshonda Perryman Creative Design Manager RPerryman@visitjackson.com

2020 Annual Report

Sherri Ratliff Tourism & Convention Sales Manager SRatliff@visitjackson.com

Shana Smith Sales Coordinator SSmith@visitjackson.com

Laura Vogelsang Executive Support Specialist LVogelsang@visitjackson.com

Floyd Williams, Jr. Director of Multicultural & National Accounts FWilliamsjr@visitjackson.com

Paul Wolf Content Marketing Manager PWolf@visitjackson.com


Strategic Partners • • • • • • • • • • • •

Greater Jackson Chamber Partnership Greater Jackson Arts Council Downtown Jackson Partners City of Jackson Jackson Convention Complex Metro Jackson Attractions Association MS Hotel & Lodging Association MS Tourism Association MS Restaurant Association MS DMO Association Jackson Redevelopment Authority Jackson State University, Millsaps College, Belhaven University, UMMC, Tougaloo College • Rotary Club of Jackson • Visit Mississippi

2020 Annual Report

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Southeast Tourism Society Tempest Interactive Destination International Longwoods International Tourism Economics Threshold 360 Rotary Club International Mississippi Blues Society Greater Jackson DMO Consortium U.S. Travel Assocation Travel & Tourism Research Association MS Economic Council Natchez Trace Compact Team Jackson


2020 Annual Report

• "APEX” Award, Rickey Thigpen – Black Meetings & Tourism Magazine • Think Humanitarian Contribution Recipient, Rickey Thigpen, MS House of Representatives • Excellence in Leadership Resolution, Rickey Thigpen, City of Jackson • American Advertising Federation Awards for the “My City” Campaign Best of Show Overall • Gold ADDY – Copywriting • Gold ADDY – Local Consumer Campaign • Silver ADDY – Internet Commercial

• 2020 Mississippi Tourism Association: Governor’s Conference on Tourism • Destination Marketing Organization of the Year ($1 million and over) • Overall Social Media Strategy • Social Media Campaign of the Year • Community Volunteer of the Year, Hezekiah Watkins, Mississippi Civil Rights Museum • Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP), Destination International Reaccreditation

Community Service • Covid-19 Task Force (City of Jackson) • Junior League of Jackson • Mississippi Certified Public Accountant Association • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (National Office, Regional Office & Local Chapters) • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (Local Chapters) • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (Local Chapters) • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. (State Organization)

• Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., (Local and State Organization) • Alpha Foundation of Jackson, Inc. • Jackson Public School District • Tougaloo College • Jackson State University • Millsaps College • Belhaven University • Mississippi Women for Progress • City of Jackson ADA Advisory Council • Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities

Visit Jackson Advisory Committees • Sales Advisory Committee • Marketing Advisory Committee • Grants/Sponsorship Advisory Committee • Sports Advisory Committee*

• Advocacy/Governance Advisory Committee • Research & Strategic Outlook Advisory Committee (*new committee for FY 2021)


308 E. Pearl Street, Suite 301 Jackson, MS 39201 1.800.354.7695 | 601.960.1891 | 601.960.1827 Fax visitjackson.com

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