2014 ACE: Award of Excellence
In 2012, the CVB recognized the need to conduct a campaign that would stand out and get the attention of meeting planners amidst the ever-growing competition regionally for convention and meeting business. A CVB staffer discovered the Springfield area is home to the original and largest producer of sock monkey toys. As a result, a 2013 direct mail campaign was developed that features a sock monkey called Sammie. (See also the related samples for the book and email).
The Springfield, Missouri, Convention & Visitors Bureau is the primary marketing organization for the city of Springfield. As an independent non-profit organization, the CVB strives to effectively and efficiently market Springfield as a premier destination for leisure, convention and sports travel. In addition to paid media campaigns in partnership with the Missouri Division of Tourism, the CVB also conducts ongoing public relations and social media campaigns, direct sales with meeting and event planners, attends industry tradeshows and conducts an annual local convention cooperative marketing program.
In 2012, the CVB recognized the need to conduct a campaign that would stand out and get the attention of meeting planners amidst the ever-growing competition regionally for convention and meeting business. A CVB staffer discovered the Springfield area is home to the original and largest producer of sock monkey toys. As a result, a 2013 direct mail campaign was developed that features a sock monkey called Sammie.
An oversized high-fashion coffee table book was created to introduce Sammie to meeting planners. The book features high-quality photography showing Sammie in various locations throughout Springfield as he takes the meeting planner on a journey through his hometown. The books were mailed to approximately 400 meeting planners to introduce them to Sammie and begin engaging them in a conversation about the city. The book’s call to action directs planners to visit www.SammieSpringfield.com to learn more about him and the city that he loves so dearly.
Approximately two weeks later, the same group of meeting planners received their own Sammie Springfield sock monkey in a custom box. A tag on Sammie’s arm tells his story, from his beginnings in Ozark, Missouri to how he became the Springfield Spokesmonkey, a position of high distinction in the city. In addition to the monkey, planners received a meeting planners guide with additional information about meeting facilities.
In another two weeks, the CVB sales staff began following up with the meeting planners to get feedback and schedule site visits for the city. Several meeting planners were then hand-selected to receive a third element in the campaign – an invitation to an all expense paid Sammie Springfield Familiarization Tour of the city. While on the FAM, participants completed a scavenger hunt of locations throughout the downtown area that Sammie likes to visit. While on the hunt, planners took pictures of Sammie with the group and each planner received his own photo book with memories from the trip.
This campaign objectives include the following:
• Surprise the meeting planner by sending direct mail that is significantly different from the typical postcard or brochure.
• Educate planners about the unique and affordable meeting venues within the city.
• Create a platform to allow CVB sales staff to more easily access meeting planners to schedule follow-up appointments and meetings about hosting events in Springfield.
• Book new meetings and conventions in Springfield to generate significant impact to the city.
The campaign is intended to inspire meeting planners and spark their interest in having a meeting or event in the city of Springfield by giving them a guided tour of the city and its main attractions and facilities through the eyes of Sammie Springfield. The key message is that this city has everything a meeting location needs from modern and up-to-date facilities to unique attractions for both day and night. The promotion is different from anything else in the marketplace because it is built upon a product that is unique to the Ozark region of Missouri.
Since launching campaign, 20 groups representing approximately 46,000 meeting attendees and more than 18,700 room nights have booked meetings in Springfield, Missouri. Gross estimated spending for these groups is approximately $17,250,000 based on a conservative estimate of $150 per attendee staying an average of 2.5 days per meeting. This shows that our goal of creating a platform to allow CVB sales staff to communicate with meeting planners and schedule follow up appointments was successful and led to bookings for 20 groups.
Original Budget: $30,000 (did not include the FAM component)
Actual Costs: $29,151.67 (includes the FAM components)
- Ozark Mnt Kids sock monkeys - $3,617.74
- Photo shoot - camera rental/travel/photog/retouch - $6,992.44
- Book - printing/shipping - $13,757.90
- Boxes/envelope - $878.59
- FAM Invite/Expenses - $3,905