Get Outdoors and Eat
When Hamilton County Tourism launches its 2015 marketing campaign, prospective visitors will hear a whole lot more about outdoor recreation and food. The 2015 campaign is designed to build on 2014 successes, while also working to gain new visitors.

“The 2015 campaign – in part – will position Hamilton County as a destination for food and outdoor where we’ll use video storytelling and value-based messages,” said Karen Radcliff, Hamilton County Tourism vice president and chief strategy officer. “We want to continue to build on our marketing strategies that were so successful in 2014, while at the same time, develop strategies that will appeal to a younger demographic than we’ve had in the past.”

According to a study by Carmel-based Strategic Marketing and Research Insights, about 193,000 household trips to Hamilton County is directly attributed to the 2014 ad campaign, and about half of those came from the Chicago market. These trips resulted in about $105 million in visitor spending. What’s even more impressive: For every $1 spent on advertising, the return on investment was $225, a 42 percent increase from 2013.

The 2014 marketing campaign increased traffic to VisitHamiltonCounty.com by 132 percent. Blog readership went from 17,000 in 2013, to 31,000 in 2014. Plus, Hamilton County Tourism sales efforts generated nearly $3 million in hotel stay leads and more than 35 qualified event leads for Grand Park.

Both hotel occupancy rates grew more than 6 percent and revenue per available room increased 12.5 percent.

Hamilton County tourism wants to capitalize on that momentum as it goes into the 2015 travel season. Here’s a look at some of the 2015 marketing strategies:
• Advertise in print, on radio, TV and digital vehicles geared toward leisure travel market.
• Package and bundle existing products in meaningful niche travel experiences focusing on outdoors, including biking and food.
• Use high-quality video that shows more how-to stories of Hamilton County to engage with younger visitors and drive them to VisitHamiltonCounty.com
• Get Pinny – the mobile tourism vehicle – out more at local events and schedule appearances outside Hamilton County to promote Hamilton County as a tourism destination.
• Develop a central clearinghouse for sports event information, including a facility inventory and more online news.
• Support sporting events that drive hotel room nights with marketing grants, event management and offering to help organizations submit bid proposals.
• Sell Hamilton County as a sports destination nationally.
• Showcase Hamilton County as a destination for groups and meetings.

Learn more about the marketing and sales planbusiness plan and community development plan.

Big events on the roster for 2015
Hamilton County is gearing up for big events this spring. The county will welcome thousands of runners from near and far for the increasingly popular Carmel Marathon April 18; collegiate golfers, who will play for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Men’s Golf Championship April 19-21 at Prairie View Golf Course; and for the first time, Project GLOC (Gorgeous Ladies of Crossfit), the largest women's only crossfit competition, which will be April 25-26 at Roundtripper Sports Academy.

In addition to these events, Hamilton County will be celebrating the opening of event space, 502 East on Carmel Drive in the Carmel Marketplace. Jonathan Byrd Catering – which was a popular Greenwood destination for many years − is remodeling the former Fountains Banquet and Conference Center.

Taking StEPS toward Indiana’s Bicentennial
As Indiana prepares to celebrate its 200th birthday, Hamilton County heritage-based organizations are working to craft the stories they want to tell in 2016, and how they want to position themselves for the next century. Hamilton County Tourism is helping them do just that with a grant to take part in Standards in Excellence Programs.

Tourism awarded grants to eight Hamilton County groups. They already have started working toward developing programs that will bring more history to residents and visitors. The nonprofits that received the grants are: Ambassador House & Heritage Gardens in Fishers, Arcadia Arts & Heritage DepotCarmel Clay Historical SocietyHamilton County Historical Society in Noblesville, Museum of Miniature Houses in Carmel, Roberts Settlement & Chapel in Atlanta, Sheridan Historical Society and the Westfield Washington Historical Society.

StEPS was developed by the American Association for State and Local History to give small- and mid-sized history museums, historic sites and houses the opportunity to assess policies and practices, manage daily operations and plan for the future.

“We are pleased to offer the StEPS grants to eight of our important heritage attractions not only to help them prepare for a role in celebrating Indiana’s bicentennial, but to develop strategies for future growth and development,” said Hamilton County Tourism president and chief executive officer Brenda Myers.

Busy Weekends in Hamilton County
Six weekends in the spring and summer have been identified as very busy weekends. This is due to multiple events occurring on the same weekend and out of town guests filling up hotel rooms.

The weekends to plan for are:
• March 14-15
o Indiana Fire Juniors Turf Classic Boys (U11-U14) at Grand Park in Westfield
• March 20-22
o Indiana Fire Juniors Turf Classic Girls (U11-U14) at Grand Park in Westfield
• March 28-29
o Indiana Fire Juniors Turf Festival at Grand Park in Westfield
• April 17-19
o Indiana Fire Juniors Crossroad’s of America College Showcase (Men) at Grand Park
o Some smaller tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o Carmel Marathon on the 18th
• April 24-26
o Indiana Fire Juniors Crossroad’s of America College Showcase (Women) at Grand Park in Westfield
o Some smaller tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o Big Ten Women’s Golf Championship at The Fort
o Project GLOC at Roundtrippers in Westfield
• May 29-31
o 2 large tournaments and 2 small tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o Midwest Clay Court Championship at Carmel Racquet Club
• June 11-14
o 3 tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o 1 tournament at Billericay Park in Fishers
• June 25-28
o 4 tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o 3 tournaments/meets in Noblesville
o 2 tournaments in Fishers
• July 9-12
o 6 tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o 3 tournaments/ meets in Noblesville
o 1 tournament in Fishers
• July 23-26
o NSA “B” North World Series in Fishers
o 5 tournaments at Grand Park in Westfield
o 1 tournament in Noblesville