Campgrounds in on Wisconsin Dells Promo
Tourists might again have use of a card promoting attractions and shops in downtown Wisconsin Dells, Wis., after the Wisconsin Dells Business Improvement District (BID) Committee reviewed a survey among businesses about the card’s distribution at a meeting Feb. 2, according to Wisconsin Dells Events.
BID committee members will review a draft of a similar card for use this year when it meets again on March 4.
In 2009, the BID Committee hired the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau to administer the downtown savings card program.
Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau Executive Director Romy Snyder attended Tuesday’s meeting. She reviewed survey results about the program. The survey came from the various lodging businesses in the area where the cards were distributed and the shops, restaurants and attractions downtown that offered discounts on products and services.
Snyder said the bureau was fairly satisfied with response to the survey for the first year of the savings card program.
“First years are always the most difficult because a lot of people take a look-and-see attitude, or wait-and-see attitude, and so I think those that were ready, willing and able to step up to the plate initially at least gave us something to test,” she said.
According to the survey, 33 hotels, motels and resorts and eight campgrounds distributed the cards to vacationers. Forty-three businesses participated by providing discounts.
The card gave a 20% discount on admission to attractions, a free drink or a 10% off discount from restaurants and 10-15% discounts off merchandise from shops.
The survey states 100,000 cards were printed, but only 60,405 were requested for dissemination by lodgings. The cost of printing and design of the cards was $9,722, for which the BID paid. The committee hoped to bring as many tourists to downtown as possible — including the tourists in Lake Delton — by implementing the savings card program.
Redemption of the cards was valid from Memorial Day weekend through Sept. 30, 2009.
Snyder said distribution of the cards varied, and she hoped some properties would have distributed more cards than they did.
According to the survey results, Wilderness Territories resort gave out 9,600 cards and Chula Vista Resort gave 7,700. Snyder said the campgrounds too gave out a nice quantity of cards: Yogi Bear’s Camp-Resort distributed 6,000 and Holiday Shores distributed nearly 5,000 cards.
Snyder suggested increasing the number of cards distributed this year by asking Wilderness Territories to distribute the cards in their guest check-in packets, and likewise with other resorts.
Participants in the program recommended changes. Representatives of the lodgings suggested the cards be designed to fit into a No. 10 size envelope. Some in the lodging industry wanted to print the name of the hotel or campground on the card.
The VCB recommends redesigning the card to a two-panel fold versus the three-panel fold card used in 2009. The redesign would be cheaper to print.
The bureau also recommends finding more businesses with discounts to make the card more valuable, and also to place phone calls to participants, in addition to a printed survey, to gather more feedback at the end of the season.
The BID Committee discussed whether it made sense to also distribute the cards at shops, in addition to lodgings. Snyder encouraged the continuation of the present practice, but left the door open to approaching other Lake Delton restaurants and shops.
“It was an easy, high-volume distribution method,” Snyder said of card distribution at the lodgings.
She said she wasn’t sure whether a restaurant like Culver’s in Lake Delton would want to hand out discount cards promoting competing businesses in Wisconsin Dells.
Brian Holzem, BID Committee member and Dells alderperson, said his shops had numerous redemptions, but concluded that any number of tourists the cards might attract to downtown makes the project worthwhile.
According to the survey, at least 600 cards were redeemed for price breaks with attractions downtown. About half the businesses that responded to the survey indicated they didn’t keep track of the number of cards received.
Because the VCB was asked to help with the project, only businesses who were bureau members advertised their discounts on the card. BID Chairman Bill Brown read an e-mail from local business owner Mark Sweet who encouraged the BID to allow non bureau members to participate for a small fee.
Brown responded by saying he thinks the most important thing is to draw people downtown.
BID members brainstormed ways to improve the savings card program. They made suggestions on how to save money in printing costs, to put lodgings on the card’s map to give reference points, and to advertise discounts that are valid for more than just the summer.