Durham, NC 2017/2018 Annual Progress Report ON VISITOR-RELATED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

On this day, the newly appointed Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau Board of Directors assembled in the Durham Sun newspaper office for the first time.

H.C. Cranford was elected chairman, and just like that, DCVB was on its way.

As we prepare to celebrate our 30th year, I wonder what those individuals, some of whom are no longer with us, would think of DCVB – and Durham – almost 30 years later. Those board members (and dozens who came after them) have guided and nurtured this organization, helping us to spearhead the proactive, strategic, visitor-centered, economic, and cultural development of Durham by attracting and serving visitors. I’m so grateful to them for their service.

I know the purpose of an annual report is to look back and reflect on progress made, but there’s much to look forward to as well, including a new name for the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau revealed at the end.

Thanks, as always, for your interest in and support of DCVB.

From left to right: Shelly Green, Seth Jernigan, Ron Hunter, Lois Deloatch, Caesar Swift, Bill Ingram, Aubrey Zinaich, Brenda Howerton, Javiera Caballero, Craig Spitzer, and Monica Edwards

Not pictured: Patrick Byker

Photo by Bill Russ

DCVB deploys advertising, websites, social media, and other digital marketing activities to put Durham in front of potential travelers and inspire an upcoming visit. Our advertising campaigns achieved nearly 4.5 million impressions, reaching targets in key geographic markets within a three-hour drive. More than 104,000 followers of social media channels interacted with us (achieving 425,500 shares, likes, and comments) with engagement rates well above industry averages.

Of particular note this year was the launch of the Discover Durham Virtual Tour, a 360-degree interactive web-based virtual reality platform showcasing 13 sites in Downtown Durham with more sites throughout Durham to come in 2018–19.

Follow Durham's story on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

photo by @mary_hudzinski

Food & Wine, Forbes, Southern Living, Wine & Spirits, Rhapsody, American Way, HuffPost, Washington Post, Bon Appetit, Forbes.com, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Those are just a few of the print and digital publications DCVB worked with last year to pitch story ideas, as well as create itineraries and facilitate the interests of journalists.

Public relations, or earned media, is an important tool we use to share what is going on in Durham to stimulate interest in visiting Durham. All told, DCVB’s PR efforts resulted in more than 167 million impressions across traditional and digital media platforms.

That’s a lot of ink!

Photo by Estlin Haiss, One City Center

Storytelling – a poignant way to engage with people interested in visiting Durham.

This is how we bring Durham to life to inspire return visits. DCVB’s blog, Bull Voyage, received nearly 118,000 views, up nearly 25 percent from last year. Our seasonal activity guides were redesigned as vivid posters featuring the work of local artists, and we sent over 805,000 e-mails about topics ranging from food and drink to festivals, shopping, nightlife, arts, and sports.

The Durham Visitor Inspiration Guide, our primary print piece for prospective visitors planning a trip, won a platinum award as the best visitor guide for large CVBs at the NC Travel Leadership Conference, as well as a Platinum Marcom award.

Artwork by Indigo Envelope, Durham, NC: Fall 2018 Seasonal Activity Guide

DCVB was privileged to receive several awards for its work with meeting and event planners:

A Smart Women in Meetings Award, Convention South Readers' Choice Award, SMART Meetings Platinum Award, and Best Booth for Religious Conference Management Association, to name a few.

The Sales Team uses networking, local prospecting, hosted buyer events, trade shows, and a variety of techniques to identify and convince planners to choose Durham. A redesigned trade show booth featuring Major the Bull helped contribute to booking 173 events that generated 42,039 hotel room nights, which will draw more than 2 million attendees to Durham for future meetings and events.

Photo by DCVB

Operated by DCVB with an independent board, the Durham Sports Commission (DSC) completed its first full year with impressive results, booking 32 events and providing services to 40 events.

Collectively, these activities will result in $44 million in economic impact to Durham.

The DSC had a huge triumph this year winning a competitive bid to host the 2019 USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. This national event will bring up to 6,000 athletes and their families to Durham next summer.

They also sponsored and hosted the DBAP Gaming Challenge, becoming one of the first communities to host an eSports event not tied to a gaming developer.

Photo by DCVB, ACC Fan Fest

The Partnerships Team works within DCVB as well as with external groups and organizations to increase collaborations that benefit visitors and visitor-facing organizations.

Together with PR, they hosted two media missions that drew 45 journalists and 35 local businesses to meet, learn, and ultimately write stories about the great things happening in Durham.

Other successful programs include hosting Third Friday events in the Visitor Info Center, organizing networking events for Durham AirBnB owners, and launching a retail passport and collaborative mural finder guide. They also debuted Carolyn, a full-sized hologram who serves as a virtual concierge to connect visitors with event calendars, email subscriptions, and SMS updates.

Photo by DCVB, Durham Mural Finder Passport

For 30 years, DCVB bore the “Convention & Visitors Bureau” moniker in its name.

Over the years, colleagues moved to catchier names like Explore Asheville, Visit Indy, and Destination DC, to name a few.

We considered changing on many occasions. Visitors know what visitor centers are but otherwise don’t know what CVBs do.

Local stakeholders know us by the acronym DCVB, but many couldn’t articulate what we do or why it matters.

With the help of a strategic, integrated, travel marketing agency, we’ve spent months exploring how to position the Durham of today, staying true to the brand that Durham was and is, but experimenting with fresh, confident, unapologetic ways to showcase Durham in the future. Results will be unveiled in 2019 and initial tests have shown these concepts to be spot-on.

As we worked on positioning Durham, we also considered how and if we should reposition DCVB within Durham and concluded the timing was good.

With that background, we’re excited to share our new name, Discover Durham. It conveys energy, action, and anticipation. We tell Durham’s story to attract visitors and drive economic progress, and we hope you agree that Discover Durham conveys this in a straightforward and simpler way.

We are...

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