BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau exceeded its revenue goal for the Event Center at Brushy Fork for the 2018-19 fiscal year, the CVB’s executive told the Upshur County Commission Thursday.
Laura Meadows said revenue collected from Event Center rentals topped $30,000 for the past fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2019.
The event center is managed by Sean Harris and operates under the umbrella of the CVB.
Meadows and Harris anticipate revenue for the center, located on Brushy Fork Ro ad, willbe as successful this year as it was last year or better.
“September and October are already packed,” Meadows said. “We’ve got every single weekend booked and then the handful of weekday events like meetings or different things happening throughout the week. The summer has been pretty busy. We always have a break in June because the [West Virginia National Guard] is kind of in and out of the building.”
Meadows came to the Thursday’s commission meeting to deliver the CVB’s annual report and talk about some of their future projects.
“I always like to remind people what our mission is, as the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and it all comes down to promotion and advertising,” Meadows said. “We’re not necessarily always the event coordinator, we’re not always the person who’s arranging events, but we’re there as a support system for the tourism industry in Upshur County.”
She explained the bureau works with local businesses and organizations to help get the word out about attractions in Upshur County.
“We are happy to support these local businesses and organizations in any way possible,” Meadows said. “I feel like every single year I learn something new about our area, and we have more new things popping up, which is really fun, and that keeps things really fresh.”
One of their goals for the year was to acquire new pictures for advertising and promotional material, and she said this will continue to be a goal in the future.
“Whenever you think about advertising and promotion, it comes down to a very visual type of connection with somebody,” Meadows said. “You can have the greatest description in the world, but it all comes down to an amazing photo or really great video clip.”
One of the areas of tourism the bureau has been focusing on is outdoor recreation because Meadows said Upshur County has more to offer than its popular Main Street.
“We want to let people know we have the Buckhannon River, and there’s tons of entry points with kayaks. We have a great group of volunteers who are coordinating the Upshur County Trails, and they want to expand on that,” Meadows said. “We’ve got camping and Brooks Hill, we have all this stuff that’s outside of downtown Main Street, and we need to let people know.”
She said a new way they are moving forward with promotions and advertising is with human interest stories.
“A lot of advertising efforts are moving from just having a print display out in the magazine to having a human interest story and that’s something that we’re actually paying for,” Meadow said. “It’s much more relatable to visitors and people want to have these warm and fuzzy stories.”
She said the bureau’s successful year can be seen in their numbers.
“We’ve been able to really see an increase each year with our revenue and this year, we exceeded our revenue goal, which was really awesome, and we actually saw profit up to a couple thousand dollars,” Meadows said.
She said their Facebook and website engagement numbers also went up significantly.
“Throughout the past year, all of our Facebook impressions and engagements, we saw increases in … Our e-newsletter does go out about one or two times a month,” Meadows said. “Our website visits were phenomenal, and that was a drastic increase because the past fiscal year, we had overhauled our website, and we were kind of starting from scratch this last fiscal year, so [this year] we were really able to focus on driving traffic to that new website.”
She said their printed literature, like their travels guides, also get distributed along with pamphlets on the CVB’s partners, including the West Virginia Wildlife Center and Ron Hinkle Glass, among others.