Carson City visitors bureau working to promote tourism |

Carson City visitors bureau working to promote tourism

Stephen Lincoln
Special to the Nevada Appeal

The Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau would like to take this opportunity to describe the mission of our local visitors’ bureau. We realize that there are many residents who may not be aware of what we do for tourism.

With our organization’s mission statement to generate overnight visits, our direction is always to work with our lodging partners to increase “heads in beds,” whether individuals or groups.

A recent quote in the paper from Jonathan Boulware of Gold Dust West stated that our visitors’ bureau generates 1 percent of occupancy. In actuality his comment was taken out of context, as he was referring to group room nights actually booked from leads generated by the visitors’ bureau.

While the amount of our visitors bureau-referred group business has room to grow, something to keep in mind: The destination depends on smaller meetings because, unfortunately, we do not have a major convention center to compete with larger centers in Reno, Tahoe or Las Vegas.

To that end and to provide a more comprehensive picture, the following is an overview of activities and results our visitors’ bureau provides to attract visitors. It should be noted that the visitors to Carson City lodging properties pay a 10 percent room tax which is collected by the properties and forwarded to the bureau for our operations. Currently our room tax is 30 percent lower than our surrounding counties, giving us a competitive edge.

Because of an ever-shrinking budget predicated by the economy we’re all challenged with, we leverage every dollar of our $340,000 annual marketing budget into a well-coordinated plan that includes advertising, website, social media, email marketing, public relations, promotions, special events, V&T railroad long line operations, sales and more:

• Our website, http://www.Visit, attracts an average of 20,000 unique visitors each month with 17,486 from the United States. The site includes links to all Carson City lodging properties as well as information on events, dining, museums, attractions, etc.

• Advertising campaign in Northern California and the Highway 395 corridor in the late spring and summer with print advertising, regional magazine, radio, television, billboards, brochures and collateral materials.

• Our bureau’s public relations efforts provide media exposure for the area’s various attractions including lodging, special events, golf, V&T railroad, etc. Additional efforts include promotions with television, radio and online outlets via Facebook, Twitter and blog posts to leverage overall marketing.

A consistent stream of press releases and media content are produced to help keep Carson City in the news throughout the year. Media efforts also include hosting tours for golf and travel media. Overall PR and promotional efforts to-date have garnered over $1.2 million in advertising equivalency (what the same editorial space generated would have cost if purchased as advertising).

• The bureau is responsible for overseeing the “Divine Nine,” a marketing co-op for nine area golf courses and nine lodging properties, with a marketing budget of over $60,000. This budget is a combination of funding from the individual courses, lodging, Nevada Commission on Tourism grants, Carson Valley Visitors Authority and the CCCVB and revenues generated by the sales of the “Ticket to Paradise” golf pass. 100 percent of the sales are reinvested into the Divine Nine budget to produce a website, brochure, attendance at four consumer golf shows exposing Carson City to over 40,000 potential visitors and advertising in various golf publications and online sites.

• V&T Railroad: This past summer, the staff at the visitors’ bureau was responsible for the sales of over 10,000 tickets on the V&T Railroad. More than 60 percent of those riders were from out of the area. The Saturday and Sunday steam trains were sold out for most of the season.

• We produce a visitor’s guide, a museum guide, the V&T Railroad brochure, a Sisters’ in History coupon brochure for discounts in Carson City and Virginia City, a discount brochure for visiting seniors and our New Deals campaign, which offers visitors discounts at local lodging, restaurants and attractions.

• Thanks to our bureau’s membership in the Regional Marketing Committee, Carson City was mentioned prominently in a recent Southwest Airlines special section on the Reno/Tahoe area.

• The bureau’s staff attends travel and trade shows on behalf of Carson City, promoting events, activities and attractions that bring visitors to our destination. This information is also sent to tour operators and group tour leaders throughout the country.

• Each month we serve an average of 1,500 people in our visitor’s center.

• Each month we mail an average of 800 visitors guides to inquires received from the internet as well as print advertising and phone calls.

• In addition, our visitors bureau funds Parks and Recreation in the amount of $30,000 annually to help attract sports tournaments, with an additional $22,000 going to field maintenance. Since 1990 we have been paying on a park bond that was used for the Pony Express Pavilion and improvements to Mills Park, among other projects.

• Special Events: We produce The Carson City Rendezvous in June, Silver Dollar Car Classic in July and Ghost Walk in October. In addition, $5,000 is provided toward Nevada Day marketing.

• Our 800 NEVADA-1 toll free number is used to answer questions about visiting Carson City, to send visitors free information and to transfer calls to our local lodging properties and golf courses.

As you can see, we are committed to making Carson City a destination to be enjoyed by residents and visitors from around the world. We welcome you to attend our meetings, held the second Monday of each month at the Community Center, to come into our visitors’ center at 1900 S. Carson St., or to call or e-mail us with your questions or concerns.

• Stephen Lincoln is chairman of the Board of Directors for Carson City Convention & Visitors Bureau.