By TRACEY GLAZENER
Capital News Service
LANSING — The theme is “Great Lakes. Great Times,” but the Ludington Convention and Visitors Bureau — along five other West Michigan visitors bureaus and the state tourism agency — is looking for beachcombers.
On April 6, Travel Michigan is launching an elaborate partnership campaign with matching funds, designed to lure Indianapolis travelers to the shores of West Michigan this summer.
Alberta Muzzin, executive director of the Ludington visitors bureau, said, “I thought it was a great opportunity to get in on a promotion that we could not afford to do on our own.”
The participating port communities contributed $42,000 — $7,000 each — to the print campaign, which is slated to run exclusively in The Indianapolis Star. Matched dollar-for-dollar by Travel Michigan, campaign funding topped off at $84,000.
Travel Michigan will share all leads resulting from the campaign with participating local visitors bureaus — Ludington, Muskegon, Mackinaw City, Grand Haven, Holland and the Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council.
In addition to the financial benefits of participating in the pilot promotion, Ludington CVB President Keith Kolfage said he sees the partnership as an educational opportunity.
“This will allow us to develop a partnership with the state to help marketing efforts and give us more punch,” Kolfage said. “We’ll also have the opportunity to learn some things and get some valuable information we likely otherwise could not have gotten.”
Participating visitors bureaus were asked to put together suggested itineraries and vacation packages to be promoted in the print ads, as well as on Travel Michigan’s exclusive beach town Web page, which is under development.
Kolfage and his wife, Suzette, donated a two-night stay at the Four Seasons Lodging and Breakfast — their family-owned motel located in the historic section of downtown Ludington; and Ludington CVB marketing assistant Sara Cronlein is working with White Pine Village and others, to put together family activities, including tours, canoeing and jet skiing.
Muzzin said the Indianapolis market is ideal for Ludington — being little more than 300 miles away and an easy drive.
“We are finding that since the 9-11 tragedy, people want to spend more time on family vacations, and they prefer their own vehicle as their means of transportation,” Muzzin said. “Therefore, we appreciated the chance to participate in this pilot program to determine how much effort we should put into this market in the future.”
Kolfage said the pilot’s success could help the visitors bureau to further its marketing reach to other key market areas, such as Chicago.
“From a consumer standpoint, I see the pilot as an opportunity to help people in Indianapolis and other key markets discover a great part of Michigan,” Kolfage said.
© 2002, Capital News Service, Michigan State University School of Journalism
By TRACEY GLAZENER