We wanted to provide an update on the work of our destination marketing arm, Visit North Central Massachusetts (VNCM), to promote the region to visitors and groups over the late Spring and Summer.
The Spring/Summer edition of the Guide to North Central Massachusetts was published in April. The magazine is the primary travel publication promoting the communities of North Central Massachusetts and includes information on our local communities, a calendar of events, stories about the region and much more. The guide was distributed through AAA offices throughout New England and through CTM Media Group to hundreds of locations including hotels, visitor centers, attractions and airports, including Logan and Worcester. The magazine was also posted on our website. The Fall/Winter edition is currently at the printer and expected to hit the stands by early September. Members interested in advertising in the 2023 Spring/Summer edition should contact the Chamber to reserve an ad in this popular publication. We also published our 2022 edition of the Venue Guide to North Central Massachusetts. This publication is a resource for event and meeting planners and helps promote the region as a unique destination for events, conferences, corporate events, and weddings. The Venue Guide is posted on the website and shared via social media and at trade shows.
In addition to these publications, we continued to invest in creating an assorted mix of strong content for our travel website – Visitnorthcentral.com – highlighting seasonal activities and attractions. Stories posted during the Spring/Summer season included “Raise a Glass” which promoted the region as a destination for craft beer lovers; “Hook, Line & Sinker!” which highlighted the region as a fresh water fishing destination; and “The Sweetest Season” which focused on sugar houses located in the region.
Our paid advertising efforts during the Spring/Summer primarily focused on utilizing digital strategies. We ran a sponsored content campaign with MassLive promoting breweries, wineries and cideries in the region to day trippers and overnight visitors. We also ran geofenced digital advertising campaigns with MassLive and LocalIQ on their websites to build brand awareness and promote activities in the region. The LocalIQ digital ads have garnered 306,148 impressions and 155 clicks so far and will run through the end of September. The MassLive campaigns garnered 465,768 impressions and 898 clicks with a .19% CTR through June 30.
While we mainly invested in digital, we also secured some print advertisements to promote the region, including ads in Yankee Magazine; a full panel ad in a tourism map published by CTM Media Group and distributed throughout the state; and an ad in the Dream Destinations Guide targeted towards the Western Massachusetts and Connecticut market. We also ran several ads in Baystate Parent Magazine targeted towards families with young kids centered around the family-friendly experience our region provides.
For FY2022 which ended on June 30, VisitNorthCentral.com saw a 25% increase in traffic with 43,034 visitors and 94,992 pageviews. We also had 1,408,054 google impressions. Our Visit North Central Facebook following grew in FY22 by 5.5% to 12,172 followers. We published 338 Facebook posts during the year, which was down 13% over the previous year. Our posts had a reach of 366,952 people, down about 5% over the previous year, and 23,000 engagements which was up modestly by .3% over the previous year. Our Instagram page saw a 10.8% increase in followers to 1,163. We published 71 posts on Instagram, up 12.7%, which reached 20,726 people. Our engagement rate increased to 7.7%.
Lodging data continues to show signs that the region is experiencing some recovery from the pandemic. Although occupancy still trails pre-pandemic levels slightly, both RevPAR and ADR exceed 2019 levels which indicates that demand is driving up prices. Hotel occupancy for YTD through July was 70.3%, a 25.5% increase over the previous year, ADR was up through the year by 57.5%. RevPar and total room revenue was up 97.6% and rooms sold was up 25.5% for YTD through July.
We have also started to resume some trade show participation. In the Spring, we hosted a booth at the Dream Destinations Travel Show in Springfield and we will be helping to staff the Massachusetts booth at the Big E scheduled for the Fall. Our public relations efforts also resulted in the region being highlighted in a recent edition of Sports Events Magazine, an industry publication for sports events planners.
In other news, our Johnny Appleseed Visitor Center in Lancaster has completed some renovations and upgrades to help improve the experience and better showcase the region to the more than 165,000 visitors that stop there each year. Renovations included adding handicap doors, new security cameras, a dog walking station, a water refilling station, shading for the picnic tables and new signage on the grounds. Inside the center we also added new floors, rustic paneling on the walls, new rugs, new signage for the exhibits and new office furniture. We are also in the process of upgrading the electronic screens inside the center, adding new seasonal banners on the lampposts and having the popular “Big Apple of New England” sculpture repaired. We hope to host a special event in the Fall to showcase the improvements.
We were challenged in the Spring with the loss of our marketing manager as well as increased costs for paid advertising and printing costs for our publications. But in July we welcomed a new marketing manager, and we are currently in the process of updating our marketing plan and implementing promotional efforts for the busy Fall season.