Stats Squad to hit the streets 
Ever wonder what inspires people to visit Hamilton County? What they think about their experience? Whether they’ll want to come back? It’s the kind of data anyone in tourism development wants and needs to be successful. Beginning this year, Hamilton County Tourism will launch a Stats Squad as part of a first-in-its-kind visitor data dive. 

“Our team will gather the most comprehensive research on visitors that we’ve ever had,” said Brenda Myers, HCT president. “It’s a pilot project unlike any other in the country, and we are excited to get started.” 

A Visitor Profile Team, aka Stats Squad, will capture not only visitor information but also resident activities so HCT can provide quality-of-life research for Hamilton County cities and towns, attractions and business partners. This data also will help HCT shape future promotions and product development. Data will be collected at approximately 200 hotels, attractions, events and festivals beginning this spring and continuing through December by the team.

Data intelligence to be core of HCT business strategy
Hamilton County Tourism's role continues to grow and evolve along with its communities. That evolution will be the focus of a new five-year strategic business plan to be in development later this year. While HCT will always work hard to promote and support visitation to its communities, hotels and its many business partners, it also needs to serve new and emerging roles. One of those roles is to serve as a data intelligence center, a collaborative with its partner the Hamilton County Economic Development Corporation. 

Tourism in Hamilton County and central Indiana is in high-growth, resulting in near historic demand for hotel rooms. Hotels already are at capacity for many weekends this summer, and many mid-week periods sell out as well. As demand from attractions such as Grand Park and other venues and attractions grows, as groups continue to impact lodging demand, and as leisure and business transient traffic expands, growth is predicted to only increase. While that's great news for the tourism industry, it also presents challenges. Among them, HCT's business partners look increasingly to the agency to provide business intelligence, and to provide the most up-to-date, vital visitor data. This will serve as a core component of the new business plan (http://www.visithamiltoncounty.com/includes/content/docs/media/2015-HCT-Business-Plan.pdf). 

It is a plan that will form with input from community stakeholders and partners and led by Karen Radcliff, HCT chief strategy officer. "This is a critical period for Hamilton County Tourism and the central Indiana tourism industry," said HCT president Brenda Myers. "We are working to develop a roadmap to allow HCT to evolve and grow to better serve our tourism partners — and I cannot think of a better person to lead the charge than someone who has been a part of that growth for the past 20 years."

Strategies already in the works include:

  • Participating in the conversation led by Visit Indy’s Regional Tourism Masterplan
  • Providing more robust quarterly forecast reports to provide hotels and marketing staff the information they need to develop successful marketing plans. 
  • Responding quicker and more strategically to market shifts with intelligent media buys and content creation.
  • Launching new communication platforms to provide trends updates and explanations of complicated tourism scenarios, new product offerings and strong market positions.
  • Continuing to fund more than $200,000 annually in grants through sports, arts and community tourism development.
  • Working with cultural heritage providers to grow capacity, the sports industry to shape product, and the tourism sector to gain market share.
  • Investing in the growth of Nickel Plate Arts, Inc., as it works to gain its independence.
  • Serving as the lead organization for the local Indiana 2016 Bicentennial Celebration.
  • Developing a plan to identify the best possible use for the Kincaid House, owned by Nickel Plate Inc. to be supported and cultivated in partnership with HCT.
  • Looking to support other quality of place initiatives such as bike sharing.

 

Klipsch GM named Forty Under 40
Andrew Newport, general manager at Klipsch Music Center, was named to the Indianapolis Business Journal’s prestigious Forty Under 40, a list of Indy’s top rising stars. Newport, 33, is the guy who works behind-the-scenes to make sure you have a good time at Klipsch and The Lawn at White River State Park. Newport got his start at Klipsch working security while in college. After he graduated, he became operations manager, and at 29, he was named general manager. He’s also a percussionist who plays with the band Borrow Tomorrow and serves as a member of HCT’s board of directors and as a director at large.

From cook’s helper to accomplished chef
In 2009, Dallas Montgomery walked into the kitchen at Grille 39 at the Renaissance Hotel in Carmel as a cook’s helper. Today, he’s Chef Dallas, responsible for the indigenous menu that’s earned him the Marriot Award of Culinary Excellence, which keeps hotel guests coming back. Aside from creating a menu that highlights local Indiana flavor, he also hosts cooking classes and cookoffs for guests. 
After getting his first taste of restaurant life, Montgomery enrolled at International Culinary School at The Art Institute in Indianapolis, was promoted to sous chef in 2010 and promoted to executive chef just two years later. You’ll also find him serving up his specialties at the annual Taste of Carmel. Among his specialties: crab cake appetizer prepared like no one else and lump crab chowder with fire-roasted Indiana corn. 
He takes pride in using local ingredients and supporting local businesses such as Flying Cupcake and Lawrence Bakery. 

Cambria wins prestigious award
The Cambria Hotel & Suites of Noblesville was recently awarded the prestigious 2015 Platinum Hospitality Award from Choice Hotels International, Inc. “The Cambria Hotel & Suites’ commitment to excellence and outstanding guest service has earned it this well-deserved recognition as one of the best hotels among the Cambria Hotel & Suites,” said Stephen P. Joyce, president and chief executive officer for Choice Hotels International.
Platinum Award status represents a tremendous accomplishment for a hotel and its entire staff. Each year, only the very top hotels in each brand are eligible to receive this elite distinction. As one of the company’s top franchised hotels operating under the Cambria Hotel & Suites flag, the hotel has demonstrated an exceptional focus on guest satisfaction and dedication to providing superior service.

Busy weekends in Hamilton County 
Busy weekends are in store for Hamilton County. In fact, nine weekends this spring and summer have multiple events. We’re expecting sellouts or near capacity at local hotels on the following dates: April 17-18 and 24-25; May 29-30; June 11-13 and 25-27; and July 9-11 and 20-25.