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"Mommy, I want to see Indiana!" (Indiana tourism promotion)

Up to 70 percent of family vacations are influenced by the children. This summer's Indiana tourism promotions will shout, "Hey kids!"

"Mommy, I want to see Indiana!" "Great, honey, because that's where we're going on vacation."

Odds are better than usual that this dialogue will develop this summer all over Hoosierland and its contiguous states. Air tickets are pricey, the economy is still palsied and many world destinations are perilous. So, experts say, plenty of families will auto-vacation near home. The trend is to go not so far, for not so long, but to get away more often. Quickie trips bode well for Indiana.

If this scenario works out, it will mean added millions for hotels, motels, malls, restaurants, fast-food stops, theaters, nightclubs, zoos, museums, monuments, parks, souvenir stands, bait stores, gas stations and auto repair shops. You may not have noticed, but tourism is the state's third-largest industry, led only by manufacturing and agriculture. Even if just a bit more rubber meets the road around your home area, it really can pump up the local economy.

Which areas will benefit most from the added dollars? Joan Griffith, vice president of member services at the American Automobile Association-Hoosier Motor Club, has solid computer records on destinations selected by AAA members. "A lot of people ask for family-oriented trips, more so than ever," she says.

The AAA sees a lot of interest in Brown County and the Nashville area as well as lafayette and the Tippecanoe battlefield. The state parks, too, are big attractions, according to Griffith. "They tend to book up real quick," she says, "so we are working with families a year in advance to get into the parks." The AAA also gets a lot of calls for information about Amish country in Elkhart and Lagrange countries.

"Another place people are starting to go is Clarksville and that new River Falls Mall," Griffith continues. "They have a carousel and it is just like a playground. People spend an afternoon there and their kids love it." Wyandotte Caves also is down near Clarksville as is Holiday World, which appeals to smaller children. And, of course, there's Old Indiana Fun Park up near Thorntown. "We have more and more travelers going there," reports Griffith.

Families outside of Indianapolis often choose weekend trips to the capital city to visit the Indianapolis Zoo, The Children's Museum, Conner Prairie and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indian and Western Art. Families, Griffith says, often want to leave home early Saturday morning, stay somewhere Saturday night and return Sunday. They don't want to drive more than four hours. What about other traffic? A lot of nice out-of-state folks bring along delightful money when they vacation here.

Responsibility for improving the in-flow falls on the Tourism Division of the Indiana Department of Commerce. It says the state hosted 32 million visitors last year, and the tea leaves predict a 3 percent to 4 percent increase in 1991. Though its $3.5 million development budget is smaller than those in some other states (Illinois spends $32 million), Indiana runs ads in Illinois, Michigan, Ihio, Wisconsin and Kentucky, concentrating on the Midwest's major towns.

The department does not neglect Indiana prospects, however. According to Denise Miller, tourism division director, it does an in-state campaign and is running a radio campaign in conjunction with the Indiana Broadcasters Association. It also will feature, for the first time, a discount attractions guide. "The thrust is going to be that we all need to sava a little more money, so here is an opportunity by using discounts. So stay close to home," explains Miller.

Miller believes strongly that auto vacations are "in" for '91. People are changing their travel plans, she thinks, for a variety of reasons--economic climate and gas prices, for example. They are looking for new options closer to home that are low-budget and family-oriented. They also are returning to traditional lifestyle values, many of the things that Indiana stands for, such as family, home and heritage. "That's a new trned," Miller says. "So we really have an opportunity now to capitalize on it, and it is going to pay dividends for years to come.

"We want to tell business people about the economic impact," Miller continues. Over the years people have not looked at Indiana as a tourist state or at tourism as a form of economic development. "It is time to change people's attitudes," she says. "We have found again and again that people repeat their travel, and if you can get them to come the first time, you are going to get repeat visitors."

This importance of tourism to business is based on what might be called a "trickle-up" theory: The bucks go from the grass roots at Betty's Diner to the treasury. The flow is measured by what statisticians call "economic impacts." They come in three flavors: direct, indirect and that perennial favorite, taxes. Figures are gathered for Indiana and other states by Economic Research Associates of Chicago. Its latest report is on a two-year period from 1987 to 1989. The consensus is that numbers improved in 1990.

Direct impacts are purchases of goods, services and lodging actually made by travelers during a trip. This amounted to $3.7 billion in '89, an increase of 11 percent over '88, says ERA.

Indirect impacts flow from direct impacts. Every dollar handed out by travelers spins around and stays in the local and state economy for a while. The total amount in 1989 was $7.7 billion.

According to ERA, the number of times a dollar is exchanged--or turns over--in an economy depends on the economy's complexity. Complexity translates into how big the towns in a county are, so as you would expect, Marion led the top 10, followed by Allen, Lake, Vanderburgh, St. Joseph, Monroe, Elkhart, Clark, Tippecanoe and Vigo. They accounted for 70 percent of the state's indirect economic impact.

Tax impacts are felt in sales taxes travelers pay to buy gas, food, lodging, entertainment and the like. That amount is swelled by income taxes collected from the wages of folks who work in the tourism industry, plus those who provide goods and services to visitors. These revenues accrue to the public sector. The total tax impacts amounted to $272.6 million in 1989.

We're talking important millions here, so the target is worth some serious persuasion. Romancing the potential customer is done by Dan Roman, president of McCaffrey & McCall, the tourism division's advertising agency in Indianapolis. His team--account supervisor Sara Norris, account executive Jenny Unes, creative director William Mick and writer Debbie Keay--produced a library of four television commercials for the year.

The spots show activities. Some of the film is from the tourism department's archives and more was shot and edited by Richmark Productions in Indianapolis. The first spot is called "Romance" and focuses on the trend for couples to go on vacation together. "We see the value of relationships coming back, so we reinforced it," explains Roman. When people in their 30s, 40s and 50s with disposable income want to go away, they usually think of going someplace such as Chicago, so what the tourism spot tries to say is: "Here's an opportunity for you to go someplace you've never been before. We have some beaches. We have fine bed-and-breakfasts. We have our share of great hotel chains, great restaurants, et cetera."

Number two is called "Hey, Kids." Roman notes that up to 70 percent of family-vacation decisions are influenced by children. Research, he says, indicates that children are most attracted by amusement parks, zoos and water activities. "So we have a spot that features a couple of kids and a lot of water activities, and suggests a lot of things to do."

Number three is called "Feast." Visiting family and friends, research indicates, is the number one reason people come to Indiana. That activity centers on entertaining and a visit with Grandma. In the opening scene of this spot, people are sitting around eating together. Next, it raises the question of what to do after you've finished eating. Then, it goes into all the things you can do during a short-term stay.

"By the Book" is the name of number four. "One of the strengths of this tourism campaign is that for the first time we actually developed a travel-motivation piece," says Roman. "Never has Tourism had something in print that gives people options of things to do. They had guides before, but nothing that brought it all together." A new tabloid does just that, listing selected attractions and explaining how to get further information about them. "By the Book" encourages tourists to order the tabloid.

"The Book" is the big new development for this year. The cover features Monument Circle at night and says, "Your guide to the sights to see and places to be in Indiana." There is a medallion in the upper left corner that points out that a statehood milestone is being celebrated this year, "175th Anniversary, 1816-1991." Inside, there are descriptions of cities and attractions, and a card to send in for about 50 brochures. The piece is not only being offered on television but also has been inserted in newspapers.

Miller of the tourism department says 50 communities helped underwrite the four-color Indiana 1991 Travel & Vacation Guide. "We are running about a million and a half circulation zoned by city," she says. This distribution is mostly out-of-state, but not entirely. "When we went back to the newspaper insert responses last year to figure out where we got the most returns, Gary was one of the big reply markets, so we are inserting in the Gary paper. We are also inserting in Indianapolis, because we had a ton of responses from Marion and the surrounding counties."

"There is a different marketing perspective this year," Roman explains further. "One of the things that keeps hitting us over the head is the tourism department's lack of budget. We are just outgunned." This year, however, its $2 million to $3 million budget was increased by contributions from the $16 million or more budgets of local tourism boards and chambers of commerce. McCaffrey & McCall recommended the concept of a guide and raised another quarter of a million dollars. "The tabloid is the first time that we have ever co-oped," Roman says.

"As we measure the effectiveness of this advertorial insert, we will see how receptive they are about continuing," Roman goes on. "Right now, they feel very strongly about it." The participants are a collection of the not-for-profits and the for-profits. The attractions themselves are kicking in. "I think the first major step has been taken to bring them all together."

Dr. Daniel Fesenmeir, director of Indiana University's Leisure Research Institute, Tourism Research Center, is doing additional effectiveness research for a number of communities. He recently completed an impact study of the two-day Chautauqua held in Madison last fall, where 60,000 people gathered and which, he estimates, grossed more than $2 million for the town. He did an evaluation of the effectiveness of a Bloomington advertising campaign and of the media it selected. He did a similar study among Elkhart County visitors and this summer, he will research the tourism industry in Brown County.

At the Brickyard in May everybody heard the call "Gentlemen, start your engines." In home driveways this spring the call is, "Families, start your engines." Where they'll go? We hope we know. Plenty will hit the roads that streak through Indiana.
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Author:Johnson, J. Douglas
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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