August 2020 Meeting Minutes

The BGALA August meeting was hosted by Hyatt Place on August 11, 2020. The business portion of the meeting was also live on Zoom.

Treasurer report from Kacie Hood since Alisha Dalrymple couldn’t attend: BGALA current account balance is over $15,200. Expenses in July were the $9.99 GoDaddy charge, $31 to Apple, and $110 to Chuy’s for the board meeting. BGALA suspended all dues this year.

ATTRACTION REPORTS:

CVB: Sherry Murphy reported. The BGALA board voiced some concerns and conversation topics with the CVB board, so Sherry reported details of what CVB staff have been doing since the outbreak of Covid-19. Sherry herself is mostly isolating due to a family member being high risk. On July 22, Beth sent an email to hotel GMs requesting ideas for a media pitch for the CVB’s Public Relations agency, Decker/Royal. Many people didn’t receive the email or realize it went out, so will work on addressing any technical issues. If anyone has ideas for packages and special opportunities, please share with Sherry and staff. The CVB main office lobby is still closed to in-person traffic because only 2 people can fit in the main office area and properly social distance. The CVB has had 35 people call the office and take advantage of the information curbside service since March. There are also brochure racks outside the CVB office on the front porch with Visitors Guides and Kentucky maps, and those are available all year anytime since the staff stocks them regularly. If the demand keeps rising and more foot traffic at the main office becomes a reality, then the CVB will explore more options. As of right now, LS Fest, MoParty, and Ford Finals at Beech Bend Raceway are still set to happen in September and October. The CVB office has been working with Beech Bend to determine proper safety and compliance to guidelines for getting visitors in and out of the park–considering there is the possibility of public outcry when out of towners visit a city. The CVB has been considering ways to positively spin the events happening and outside visitors coming to the community in a campaign. The CVB also plans to partake in the #TravelKYConfidently campaign that’s being spearheaded by the KY Travel Industry Association and KY Tourism, encouraging travelers to feel safe when they visit our state’s destinations. Sherry does not plan to attend any more in-person BGALA meetings for as long as this Covid outbreak is happening–she will send other CVB staff in her place for reports. The two CVB sales agents, Janet and Amy, have been working 20 hours per week part-time and been dealing with events canceling and trying to rebook repeat business. Sherry has been trying to find work for them to do since nothing is currently happening. Amy had the opportunity to attend the NASC sports show virtually. Janet will be working more hours soon because of the car events happening over the next couple months. We need the Beech Bend Road entrance to be safe given its new widening is complete and Janet has been serving in a safety committee capacity to ensure higher volume of visitors can safely enter and exit the park. LS Fest may see more attendees than usual because Holley Performance had to cancel its West Coast event this year, so folks may be coming to Bowling Green who have never attended this East Coast event. Sherry, Marissa, and Beth are working full-time hours Monday thru Friday at the CVB office or remotely. The CVB has a part-time book keeper who has done work on weekends when no one is at the office. The CVB’s budget year started July 1 and it has made several changes to this year’s budget given the virus impact, even dipping into some reserve funds. Kentucky Tourism is doing a campaign August thru October spending several thousand dollars toward drive market audiences, aiming for weekend trips and road trip getaways, with a message that Kentucky is here when you’re ready to travel. BG is looking at other major car events to see if there are any others to target for business–they watched the Street Rod Nationals in Louisville this past weekend and the event was almost shut down by the health department. The CVB plans to work with Sublime Media to produce two more videos, along with the two video already produced for social media (one at Lost River Cave and one at Corvette Museum, aimed to ease traveler anxiety by showcasing how attractions are keeping visitors safe). The two new videos will feature downtown Bowling Green spots and Beech Bend, including drone footage. Prior to the outbreak, the CVB was planning to contract with CrowdSouth for social media campaigns, and the CVB plans to resume those conversations with that marketing agency and work on campaigns together. Beth had to do more self-educating about social media since the original CrowdSouth project was put on hold during the outbreak. The CVB’s social media presence has grown a lot during the pandemic and it has grown heavily through strategically paid boosted posts, with its Facebook followers hitting more than 10,000 people, Instagram has more than 3,200 followers, Pinterest engagement is up 93 percent, and its Twitter has over 5,000 followers. Sherry’s goal is to get the CVB Facebook followers up to over 30,000 people like the Elizabethtown CVB when she directed there. Tomorrow, a new weekly newsletter will be sent to hotel partners, sharing updates from CVB staff, guideline details from the governor’s office, and more information as it happens–if the weekly emails become repetitive, then they will move to bi-weekly. Sherry has regular calls with CVB reps and KTIA reps from Lexington, Louisville, Northern Kentucky, and Paducah to share ideas. If you aren’t receiving the other new monthly newsletter Beth started sending a couple months ago, please let Beth know to add you to the subscriber list. If BGALA or anyone has any further recommendations to the CVB or Sherry, please let her and staff know–they are available for calls and conversation. The CVB board has been meeting on Zoom calls since April and will continue to do so.

Sloan Convention Center: No report.

Lost River Cave: Maegan Williams reported. Boat tours are open and operating at 75% capacity. Masks are required on the tour and inside the gift shop. The cave added half hour tours and more of its Covid guidelines are posted on its website. They are regularly sanitizing the boats, life jackets, restrooms, and facilities after each use. Most of the cave’s fall events are canceled, including its Camping event and Junior Naturalist. The wedding weekends are all booked through fall. The Scarecrow Trail will still be happening in October because you can social distance on the trails–Hilton Garden Inn and NCM MSP have already registered to participate. The last day to register is September 11. Last year the trails had at least 20,000 people in foot traffic that month. Earth Week is September 20-26 and moved from April–volunteers are welcome to come clean up and perform activities throughout the property. The first 300 people receive a t-shirt, and you get a free boat tour pass for volunteering. So far there are over 200 volunteers registered. The cave is not going to announce anything about the Reindeer Encounter yet because it’ll depend on how its fall events run.

National Corvette Museum: Katie Ellison reported. The Rat Fink East Coast Reunion is scheduled for August 20-22 weekend, is a free event with 35-40 vendors and outdoor activities-the exhibit itself has been extended through April 2021 for Bash. The NCM Anniversary Celebration is September 2-5–Wednesday and Saturday are road tour days with Thursday and Friday being NCM events onsite. The museum is opening virtual event registration for that too based on the success of Bash going virtual in May. There are over 300 registrants in-person for anniversary to date. Wendell is being inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame this year and that is being moved to Bash in April 2021. Tomorrow Brett Guthrie is visiting the museum to do a spotlight on tourism and its importance to the economy–local media have been invited to follow along and take interviews. The museum is seeing about 50% of its usual attendance figures compared to this time of year in a normal setting–nationwide, museums are seeing only 10-15% of regular attendance, so this is a great figure. Walk in sales at the Corvette Store are also at 86% of last year’s sales.

NCM Motorsports Park: Katie Ellison reported. Kartplex reopens this Friday with a Buy One Get One Free offer. The track is still being rented with events on weekends and is open.

Historic RailPark: Jamie Johnson reported. Tours continue and the RailPark is now open Wednesday thru Sunday, seeing about 30% of regular tour attendance. The gift shop there is seeing 60% of its sales compared to last year’s. RailPark sent out membership renewals early this year, and are seeing people pay sooner. A development committee meeting was held after its board meeting this morning, to discuss this fall’s events. Haunted Lantern Tours are canceled because there isn’t a way to provide that train car experience in a social distanced safe way. However, the RailPark has received permission from the Parks department to do cemetery tours at Fairview Cemetery. Starting the week after Labor Day and running through October 30, there will be a new Murder Mansion tour with true stories of Bowling Green’s past being highlighted. Wes Swietek wrote a book telling the Murder Mansion story, and will be present for a few tours to do a Q&A session about the history of the events. Tickets should be on sale by the end of this month for tours Thursday thru Saturday nights. There is a plan for Polar Express to happen with a new in-person safe version this season, but no official announcement on that yet. Facility rentals in July 2020 were better than July 2019. September and October weekend dates for this year are sold out for the Depot space.

Beech Bend Park: No report.

Bowling Green Hot Rods Baseball: No report.

Presentation from Kevin at Ecolab, who sponsored the lunch meal: Kevin can provide free staff training and on site support anytime. He distributed pamphlets on cleanliness with an overview of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. The key to keeping a space clean is knowing how the virus can enter and travel, and knowing how frequently to clean high traffic spaces. If you have any questions or would like him to take a look at any space, please let him know. There are many ways to protect frontline staff and employees with barriers. The average person touches about 300 surfaces every half hour. Kevin can also answer questions about electrostatic spraying and its benefits compared to a trigger spray.

OLD BUSINESS:

BGALA will continue accepting applications for its special tourism projects fund from the member attractions and non-profits. Kacie reported that it is the goal of these funds to possibly aid in small projects that would bring more overnight visitors to the area. Please see Kacie for an application. There is no deadline.

If you aren’t receiving BGALA emails from Listserv, then please visit the bglodging.com site to subscribe.

BGALA plans to offer its $500 Fall scholarship to college students who are enrolled in the WKU hospitality program and working at a member hotel or attraction. The deadline to apply is October 15. Please share with any staff who are students.

NEW BUSINESS:

BGALA still needs an October and November meeting location. Jamie Johnson checked the RailPark calendar and it is available for October 13th’s meeting date. Has anyone read this much of the minutes yet to offer to host the November meeting? The December Christmas event will be at NCM MSP in the late afternoon in time to see Twinkle at the Track lights.

BGALA proposed putting some marketing dollars into helping promote BG tourism on the whole, especially since the CVB’s marketing budget has taken such a direct hit this year. Katie and Telia have secured a bid from Vid Monster Productions to produce three videos for $1,000. One video would be 1-minute, and the other two videos would be :30. The 1-minute is for social media shares and boosts, and the two :30 videos would be sent to local TV stations to air as free PSAs. The message on the video would be to invite your friends and family to visit Bowling Green and explore our attractions, hotels, restaurants, and hospitality partners. The video would also mention how important tourism is to our economy and the thousands of people our industry employs. We would like the BGALA board members to deliver the lines on camera to make it more authentic and shareable for their friends and family on social media, and we would like to work with attractions to include footage of each. This #GearedforTravel campaign would be using our dollars to generate drive market visitors and is contingent on membership approval. The consensus was positive.

The next meeting will be held Tuesday, September 8 at Comfort Suites

About the Author: Telia Butler