Tourism Gives surprise packages to volunteer super stars

Volunteers around Hamilton County received surprise visits this holiday season from Hamilton County Tourism. These super star volunteers have gone above and beyond to help people (and canines) in need all year-round. HCT wanted to acknowledge all the work they do through a program called Tourism Gives. Tourism Gives lives beyond this through programs including community grants, volunteering and recycling. Volunteers were selected from nominations, and beginning in November, HCT elves have surprised volunteers with a gift box filled with items donated by local tourism partners, including concert and museum tickets, hotel stays, gift cards to local restaurants, shops and more.

“We wanted to give something back to those who give their time to make Hamilton County a welcoming, loving community,” said Brenda Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton County Tourism.
Among those who have received special Tourism Gives packages are Joe Trentman, who picks up and sorts donations and helps maintain Open Doors in Westfield, Russ Mulholland and Nancy Thomas, a dynamic dog-walking duo who have donated more than 400 hours walking dogs at the Hamilton County Human Society.

Learn more about the 10 local volunteers who are being honored and how Tourism Gives is celebrating the generosity of Hamilton County volunteers.

2016 forecast calls for more visitors

Here’s a tip to those who plan to visit Hamilton County in 2016 – book early. Lodging experts are forecasting a 6 percent increase in occupancy for 2016, and that will lead to some dates where hoteliers will have to light up their “no vacancy” signs.

Even though there will be 10 percent more rooms available in 2016, there may be as many as 25 “compression” periods, which means hotels will be at or near capacity.

“In addition to our local events, we’ll also see visitors in town for major events in Indianapolis in 2016, including the Big 10 Football Championships and the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, which all impact our hotels, restaurants and attractions,” Myers said. “It’s going to be a busy year.”
The months with the greatest numbers of visitors will be April, June, July September and October. July will be especially busy thanks to a jam-packed scheduled of major tournaments and July Fourth festivals.
HCT is working with local event and wedding planners to help them prepare for a busy 2016 tourism season.

How do you do it, Hamilton County Tourism?

That’s what some communities around the country want to know. After Myers and Karen Radcliff, vice president of Tourism, spoke at Destination Marketing Association International about Hamilton County’s unique partnership with economic development, other communities have been calling to find out more.

Hamilton County has become a model for how destination managers can serve as community conveners, facilitators and developers. It’s a new trend in tourism, but something Hamilton County has been doing for many years. After the talk at DMAI in July, Galveston, Texas reached out to learn more about Hamilton County’s sports development model. Officials from Cabarrus County, North Carolina made a trip to Hamilton County to see firsthand how Hamilton County Tourism has become an integrated part of the area’s economic development tool.

“It’s a real privilege to know that other communities are looking to Hamilton County as a model for how Tourism can be an integral part of a community’s economic development,” Myers said. “We are so fortunate in Hamilton County to have so many great partners, and it’s an honor to share with others how our business model continues to evolve so that we can meet the demands and needs of our community.”