KING OF PRUSSIA, PA – For the first time in the organization’s history, the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) has launched a meetings-specific marketing campaign aimed at attracting corporate meetings and association conference involving weekday overnight accommodations.
The VFTCB partnered with Aloysius Butler & Clark to invest $325,000 for the initiative, which will have a digital and print presence targeting meeting planners for local corporations within 300 miles of Montgomery County, PA. The messaging will include a play on the word room, “Room for Meetings, Room for More” highlighting all Montco has to offer: breathing room (dozens of parks and almost 100 miles of trails), driving room (50 historic and top-ranked golf courses), room for every taste (1,800-plus restaurants and Montco Makers).
According to a survey of meeting planners by Northstar Meetings Group/Cvent, planner confidence is optimistic, and more planners are actively sourcing for future meetings and events. In fact, 64% of the planners said they’ll hold their next event within a few months, which could make Q2 the most active quarter since the beginning of the pandemic. And, TravelPulse reported that 75% of business travelers are interesting in traveling for work now through the fall with 50% of business travel expected over the summer months.
“We feel the time is right as coming out of COVID our hotel portfolio has only become stronger, and our meeting amenities continue to grow,” said Scott Higgins, the VFTCB’s Director of Sales.
Approximately 36% of Montgomery County hotels have invested more than $100 million in capital improvements, including the Alloy King of Prussia, the Sheraton Valley Forge, the Holiday Inn Lansdale, and the Marriott Philadelphia West, Higgins said. Montco’s hotel family also welcomed two new properties – the brand-new Element Valley Forge, and the riverfront Residence Inn Bala Cynwyd – with another on the way – the high-end West & Main, a Tapestry by Hilton coming in the fall. The destination has also added new restaurants such as Lark by Top Chef winner, Nicholas Elmi, according to Higgins.
The campaign includes the company’s strongest rewards program ever offered: new groups receive $10 off per contracted room night regardless of which hotel they use out of the county’s 80-plus property portfolio. Groups can use the funds to enhance or offset program costs. Meeting attendees can also get access to area discounts with the “Show Your Badge” program.
Offering such deals could coincide with a potential influx of business travelers bringing family members on their work trip. Of those business travelers surveyed, TravelPulse also reported that more than half are interested in combining business with leisure travel.
Based on those trends in the meetings industry, Adam Sacks – President of Tourism Economics – agrees on the timing of the VFTCB’s Meetings & Events campaign.
“Our analysis of forward bookings confirms that the recovery of the meetings segment is underway,” said Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics. “While the events sector was more severely hit than other travel segments, businesses and their employees are keen to get back to in-person meetings. The benefits of face-to-face meetings – including innovation, team building, partnership development, sales, and knowledge transfer – are critical to business success. And virtual meetings are a poor and unsustainable substitute.”
The VFTCB has fully resumed in-person sales activities, including a full line-up of 13 targeted trade shows this year. At events like Cvent’s CONNECT conference held recently in Las Vegas, meeting planners have expressed interest in exploring new meeting destinations, especially those that include outdoor entertainment options.
That’s certainly true for Normandy Farm, according to Christine Jusino, Director of Corporate Sales.
“In-person meetings and events have safely and effectively returned to Normandy Farm!” she said. “Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen a large increase in the volume of corporate travelers that are ready to meet again and see their colleagues in person, face to face. We have the ability to really bring people back together with not only our flexible meeting & event space, but also a variety of teambuilding experiences to connect with each other again. We look forward to continuing to welcome our guests back to Normandy Farm and beautiful Montgomery County!”
The same goes for Kimberley Smith, Senior Manager, Meetings and Events Operations at AD.
“Our members value face-to-face connections. The overwhelming majority were ready to get back to in-person meetings beginning Q3 of 2021,” she said. “As such, we have been back to in-person meetings since late summer of 2021. The reaction has been tremendous, and we are continuing to bring more meetings back to in-person.”
So far, the VFTCB’s meetings-focused investment has certainly impacted web traffic. Since January, valleyforge.org/meetings has seen almost 10,000 pageviews. That’s an increase of more than 1,000% over the same period last year, and a 95% increase compared to pre-pandemic traffic in 2019. Users are coming from Pennsylvania, Kansas, Texas, and Virginia, and are spending more time on the page, which is also in the top 10 pages visited for the VFTCB – another first for the organization.
Besides a variety of things to do beyond the meeting (i.e. 50 golf courses, and the best shopping in the country between the King of Prussia Mall and Main Street boutiques), the VFTCB continues to offer tools like Montco360 virtual tours to assist planners with their event needs, site-tour services, and a FREE Visit Valley Forge mobile app.
The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes Valley Forge and Montgomery County, PA as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500+ member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services. The award-winning website links visitors, meeting planners, tour operators, and residents to a diverse portfolio of brands focused on reasons to visit the region.