- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 1, 2014

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Southern Indiana’s tourism bureau is tossing its old marketing plan in favor of one that will launch it into the year 2014.

The Clark-Floyd Counties Convention and Tourism Bureau plans to increase its digital presence - especially focusing on social media - to draw visitors into Southern Indiana, new Executive Director Jim Epperson said.

“The idea of sharing in the old days was, ‘Come over to my house and look at my slideshow,’ and now, it’s all posted online,” Epperson said. “People still like to tell the story of their trip and share it.”

He said the most important part of the new marketing plan is a seven-step travel planning process, beginning from the inspiration of traveling to a certain destination, and ending with sharing the trip with others.

“We’re trying to find touchpoints to interact with, to reach and to influence potential visitors at every step of the process,” he said of the plan, which uses specific media forms best tailored for each of these touchpoints.

Epperson said an assistant director of marketing and sales position was created to help in looking for and promoting events, specials and attractions in Clark and Floyd counties - a job that will require a solid grasp on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore said he recently met with Epperson to talk about the new marketing plan and likes what he heard about the renewed digital presence.

“I think the social media aspect is certainly something the city of Jeffersonville has seen a lot of benefits from,” Moore told the News and Tribune (http://bit.ly/1lzZzJx ).

Roger Baylor, co-owner of the New Albanian Brewing Co. in New Albany, one of the many craft-making businesses that attract tourists, said that the use of social media will be very beneficial in bringing visitors, especially now that Facebook has a lot more users in older demographics.

“I think that, of course, is probably overdue,” he said, of implementing social media. “I think it could be very useful.”

Baylor also said he doesn’t think the Sunny Side of Louisville brand that the bureau has had for the past 30 years appeals much anymore and hopes to see some fresh ideas coming from the bureau.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing them livening that up a little bit,” he said, of the Sunny Side branding.

The bureau will continue to reach out to many cities close by that they have in the past, such as Indianapolis.

“Most of our business is going to come from the 100-, 150-mile drive market, but we will look out to 250 miles,” he said. “Our priorities will be the closer-in ones … That’s pretty typical in the Midwest. We are a weekend getaway … drive-to destination.”

Unlike before, the bureau will also focus south of the Indiana border, marketing in cities such as Elizabethtown, Ky. and Nashville.

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