Is Explore Asheville still marketing to tourists?
On February 28, before North Carolina’s first case of COVID-19 was announced and before states of emergency were declared locally and statewide, Explore Asheville sent industry partners the first e-alert of many about COVID-19.
As the crisis emerged, we immediately began to pivot from promoting Asheville and Buncombe County as a travel destination to supporting industry partners and the community at large. We suspended paid advertising on March 11. That same week we cancelled upcoming trips for journalists and meeting planners.
Within days the Explore Asheville team made sweeping changes to ExploreAsheville.com to reflect ways to experience Asheville virtually, aimed to inspire future travel when it is it is deemed appropriate to restart efforts to bring customers back to our local businesses – and safe to do so, for both residents and visitors.
We built new sections of the website, including take-out dining and online shopping with local businesses.
We have commissioned several waves of research, which will allow us to make data-based decisions for a robust return of marketing efforts. When the time is right, we will be ready to come out of this crisis fast and strong to attract visitors here and enable local businesses to recover and bring back jobs.
How is Explore Asheville supporting industry partners & the general community?
UPDATING PARTNER CONTENT ON WEBSITE: As government mandates forced temporary closures or changes in how various businesses could operate, the Explore Asheville team went into high gear to reflect those changes on ExploreAsheville.com.
As noted in the previous question, we are continuously making updates to ExploreAsheville.com, creating content that provides information on not just changes in operating hours and cancelled or postponed events, but also ways the public can interact with businesses virtually or online. Our goal is to make the site useful to local residents as well as providing a platform for amplifying the goods and services offered by tourism partners.
COLLABORATION WITH COUNTY OFFICIALS & BUSINESS LEADERS: The Explore Asheville CEO and public information officer have both participated in sometimes daily discussions with the county’s Emergency Operations Center and other local leaders to address the challenges of the public health crisis on our economy. In collaboration with this group, we have assisted public health officials in conveying information to partners on how to comply with emergency orders and plan strategies for recovery.
CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: On Explore Asheville’s industry website, AshevilleCVB.com, we created a series of Coronavirus Resource pages where we curate and aggregate information for tourism partners on topics that include business resiliency, advocacy efforts and opportunities, community support, webinars and learning opportunities, and more. This includes a special Compliance Toolkit to help lodging partners with the highly specific regulations pertinent to them, particularly with respect to the ban on leisure travelers to Buncombe County. We have hosted three compliance webinars with lodging partners.
- Publishing ongoing e-alerts to provide partners with information and resources.
- Hosting a virtual Partner Forum and several video conference calls with partners and Buncombe County public health officials.
- Temporarily suspending billing to partners who advertise on ExploreAsheville.com.
- Engaging in personal outreach by phone to discover other ways we can be of service to our 1,300 tourism partners