Visit North Central Massachusetts Update

We saw great success with our Spring “Discover Your Next Adventure” campaign which concluded in June. The campaign utilized a mix of paid print, digital and social media advertising to promote the region as a safe and family friendly destination. saw strong traffic from the campaign, with visitors increasing by 230% compared to the same timeframe the previous year (and a 102% increase compared to 2019) and pageviews increasing by 304% (92% increase compared to 2019). On Facebook, the campaign had 333,676 impressions from April to June and over 17,500 engagements, which represents a 394% increase over the same period the previous year. Independent data sources that we use to track visitation shows that the region saw a 284% increase in visitors from April to June compared to 2020 and a 30% increase over the same time period in 2019. Lodging data also shows signs that the region is experiencing some recovery from the pandemic, although some of the numbers are still below pre-pandemic levels. The Spring months saw very strong increases in occupancy rates, revenue per room (RevPar), average daily rate (ADR), room availability and rooms sold. Hotel occupancy for YTD through July was 56.2%, a 20.6% increase over the previous year, however ADR was down through the year by 12.7%.  Room availability was up 22%, RevPar was up 5.3%, total room revenue was up 28.6% and rooms sold was up 47.2% for YTD through July.

The Chamber’s tourism arm, Visit North Central Massachusetts (VNCM), has developed its annual marketing plan to promote the region to visitors and groups for the new fiscal year that started July 1, 2021. The marketing plan will be executed in alignment with the recently released “One North Central” Economic Development Plan which highlights tourism as a priority industry for employment and revenue in our region. The marketing plan was approved by the Board of Directors and submitted to the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism as part of our annual tourism grant submission. Marketing efforts will continue to target the regional drive market within a 250-mile radius, including key origin markets like Boston, Southern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island highlighting our safety, rural character and the unique and engaging experiences that North Central Massachusetts has to offer. We plan to expand our investment in our marketing efforts, utilizing a diverse mix of digital and print advertising in our target markets.  We also plan to continue with the strategy of updating our website and social media platforms with strong content, continuing to optimize our site for new searches and investing in social media to promote, connect and engage with visitors. We also plan to resume attending trade shows in the next year to further promote the region as a destination to groups and other target markets.

In other news, VNCM recently applied for a matching capital grant from the state to make some modest renovations and improve the overall experience for the 165,000 annual visitors to the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center on Route 2. Our vision is to not only operate the best visitor center in the state, but to also transform the center into a destination that provides an engaging experience and encourages visitors to learn more about the region’s communities, local attractions and businesses.  The Fall/Winter edition of the Guide to North Central Massachusetts is now available and will be distributed throughout the region and New England. Copies can be picked up at the Chamber office or at the Visitor Center.