On Wednesday, December 1, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority (South Shore CVA) hosted its current and potential partners to the Indiana Welcome Center to learn more about what is to come in 2022.
Attendees were welcomed to the Partnership Summit by the South Shore CVA employees along with coffee and donuts. To kick off the summit, Heather Becerra, chief marketing officer for South Shore CVA, presented on what partners can expect during the closing of 2021 and the approach of 2022.
Still to come in to 2021, partners and the South Shoreland area alike can look forward to the American’s Crossroads Bowl coming to the City of Hobart and to the South Shore CVA’s launching of its new website.
The America’s Crossroads Bowl, which will be hosted at the Brickyard Stadium in Hobart at 1 p.m. on Saturday December 4, is one of four NCAA Division II bowl games sponsored nationally in 2021.
“I really appreciate everybody's support on the sporting events coming to the area,” said Megan Goodan, manager of sports development for South Shore CVA. “I have a fun job, it is stressful at times but it's a lot of fun.”
“Having an NCAA Division II event can just really put Hobart and the South Shore on the map,” she continued. “People are really striving to come to our area in the Crossroads bowl. For example this weekend’s game is being aired and live streamed on the ISC Sports Network.”
The teams competing this Saturday at the Crossroads Bowl will be the Hillsdale College Chargers and the Truman State University Bulldogs.
The new South Shore CVA website is looking to launch on December 14, with both updated and new categories on their featured listing, including places to stay and a sports section. The Live Chat feature on the website, while live already, is a feature that the South Shore CVA encourages all to use to talk with someone directly through your screen.
“We added the Live Chat, because when the Welcome Center was closed, we were like, well, how can we still interact with visitors,” Becerra said. “We've done about 2800 total chats since May of 2020. Which doesn't sound like a ton, but that is almost 3000 more people that we're interacting with and we're able to help and answer questions about the area.”
Looking to 2022, the South Shore CVA discussed with the attendees four areas of focus it will be aiming at for the upcoming year.
In the upcoming year, South Shore CVA plans to build out current marketing plans and create new ones to bring new tourists to the area.
“Last year we did a small campaign on Pandora, but we'll be expanding that this year. And then some other things that are new and coming up,” Becerra said. “We actually invested in a program where we can see all the data of our visitors that are coming in. Almost 25% of our traffic's from Illinois and only 16.7% from Indiana, just showing how many Chicago people we are getting.”
“Another thing that we are going to be doing this year is Wild Chicago,” she continued. “Pierogi Fest is actually going to be the premiere episode on January 16 at 5 p.m. and they contacted us about having a commercial feature during the episode.”
With the numerous sporting, music and entertainment events coming to and occurring in Northwest Indiana, the South Shore CVA is expecting a continue trend of people staying in the area.
“According to our research, people who come to visit the area are staying four and five days because most of those groups are coming in on Wednesday or Thursday and they're staying until Sunday or Monday,” Becerra said.
Between Facebook and Instagram, the South Shore CVA is continuously working to become more active on its social platforms.
“A post we did with Harvest Tyme Pumpkin Patch reached 687 accounts and 37% of those weren't even following Along the South Shore,” Becerra said. “Which is nice because now those are potential people that can follow us in the future and 840 impressions.”
Goodan talked about recently representing the South Shore CVA at a sports area conference where people in similar position from destination management organizations got together and met with event organizers to try to bring in additional sporting events to the area.
“When I walked into the room everyone was talking about the City of Hammond and the Hammond Sportsplex,” she said. “And how in the world did we get the Division II Crossover Volleyball event and then it translated into all of Division II, which is putting our communities on the map.”
“We really are broadcasting the South Shore in a really great way,” she said. “Especially with having this connection with all of the Division II schools and having Purdue Northwest in our backyard is obviously helpful and really important to us as well.”
Returning partners and new partners alike are excited to get the year started with South Shore CVA.
Director of Sales for Fair Oaks Farms, Summer Holman, is looking forward to partnering with the South Shore CVA yet again in the upcoming year.
“I love South Shore CVA, they are a great partner to have,” she said. “They're always there if we need assistance or help. It's a great partnership for all the events that they bring in for us because we have the hotel, we have the restaurant, and we have the attractions, so it is just an overall great partnership.”
The City of Hobart is also looking to add another great year to its partnership with South Shore CVA.
“We have been a partner with the South Shore CVA for the whole six years that I've been in this position,” said Nikki Lopez, event director for the city. “I love the marketing opportunities. Being able to market on a regional basis is huge for me. I'm the only person in my entire department. So having partners I can depend on is huge.”
Lopez also noted the added benefits to partnering with the South Shore CVA.
“Some extra partnership perks are being able to host different communities for a lot of events the South Shore CVA does,” she said. “So we were lucky enough in Hobart to host the opening ceremonies for the NSA and we're really looking forward to our partnership this weekend for the Americas Crossroads Bowl.”
Previous R.I.S.E award winners and new partners with South Shore CVA, Pamela and Joseph Broadaway, also attended the summit for their business, the Trailblazers Bike Barn.
“This will be our first year partnering with the South Shore CVA,” Pamela said. “Their whole marketing aspect and everything they do is what drew us in to them and we are excited to start our partnership.”
Becerra is ready to bring South Shore CVA and its partners into the new year.
“I think we're all just kind of, you know, figuring out the new normal, and we want to help our partners whether you're a $400 partner or a $4,000 partner, we want to help everyone the same.”
To learn more about the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, please visit https://www.southshorecva.com/.