Visitors Bureau extends scope to sports marketing

Diana Thompson (left) and Leiann Stewart of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau review a promotional document. CONTRIBUTED
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Diana Thompson (left) and Leiann Stewart of the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau review a promotional document. CONTRIBUTED

Contact this contributing writer at nancykburr@aol.com.

After 25 years, the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau can look at achievements such as the county bicentennial celebration and a countywide branding project while directing more focus on opportunities including sports marketing.

Diana Thompson, the bureau’s executive director since its formation, has seen the organization go from a board of directors charged with making decisions about day to day operations in a young bureau to one with more time to look at its future.

“They now are able to do more to keep the organization current, vibrant and always thinking about what is next. We are at the point where our board is more big picture into the future thinking,” Thompson said.

The bureau receives its funding from the county 3 percent lodging tax that is projected to bring in around $425,000 this year.

The bureau began with offices in a small building along the Great Miami River between Piqua and Troy across the road from the Upper Valley Medical Center. It moved to offices in a downtown Troy building in 1996 following flooding that ruined bureau records and materials.

The river played a part in the bureau’s quarter century celebration in July that included events such as paddleboats and canoeing.

Thompson said efforts to promote the county and its offerings have been enhanced by good relationships with local governments and the downtown organizations in Troy, Piqua and Tipp City.

The charge to promote also has immersed the bureau into events including the 2007 county bicentennial celebration coordinated by the bureau, the 1998 Courthouse rededication and the visit in 2015-16 of the Lincoln monumental statue on the Courthouse lawn.

As it looks to the future, the bureau is in the midst of a social media audit to ensure it is maximizing that means of reaching a target audience that includes families with smaller children.

It also is taking steps to move into sports tourism and tournaments marketing following a 2016 audit of the county’s sports venues by Don Schumacher of the National Association of Sports Commissions.

The report includes “more targeted information related to sports that can happen here in Miami County without any distinguishable changes. We have been encouraged to focus on our strengths right now,” Thompson said. She said opportunities with available resources were noted for sports such as fast pitch softball for girls, baseball and soccer, among others. Thompson said it is hard to get a start in sports tourism but a concerted effort is among staff challenges.

Learn more

Online: For more information on the Miami County Visitors and Convention Bureau, go online to www.homegrowngreat.com.