Chapel Hill, North Carolina Issues Travel Marketing RFP


Chapel Hill, North Carolina Issues Travel Marketing RFP

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau has issued an RFP for a marketing and advertising agency. The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau—the tourism authority for the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough, North Carolina—is seeking agency services that entail creative development of a tourism campaign; execution of the campaign with goal of motivating travel to Orange County.
The mission of the Visitors Bureau is to develop visitor services in Orange County towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough; and to implement marketing programs that enhance the economic activity and quality of life in the County. The purposes for which the Bureau is organized are:

  1. To position the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Hillsborough as a desirable vacation destination to selected visitor markets, with consideration of assets of the communities.
  2. To encourage longer stays, increased spending and repeat visits.
  3. To examine the range of visitor services available, to identify unmet needs and to work with private sector to meet those needs, as appropriate.

Demographic Information

  • More than 80% of Chapel Hill’s visitor-base is from the leisure market segment (note, the Visitors Bureau does not have the word convention in its name due to absence of convention center and significant meeting facilities).
  • Top markets are North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia; South Carolina, Florida. Additionally the market sees business and conference travelers from the Atlantic Coast— Washington D.C. to Atlanta.
  • Top draw is University of North Carolina; followed by visiting friends and family and couples who like to relax and explore the destination. Attributes are:
    • Chapel Hill=Education, athletics, restaurants, greenery, creative class
    • Carrboro= arts, open-liberal environment
    • Hillsborough= county seat, historical, shops, restaurants, small-town creative community with a Riverwalk as its centerpiece. Riverwalk connects to state’s Mountain to Sea Trail initiative.

About hotels:

  • 1811 hotel rooms; 1,000 are located in Chapel Hill and include high-end flagships such as Siena., the Carolina Inn, Sheraton and the Franklin Hotel, AC by Marriott (opening October 2018), Hyatt Place Southern Village, Aloft, Residence Inn, Courtyard by Marriott and Friday Center exhibit space located next door. Mid-size properties include the Quality Inn, University Inn, and Days Inn. And in Hillsborough: Holiday Inn Express; Microtel.
  • More than 300 restaurants, ranging from southern nouvelle cuisine, Italian, barbecue, French and many restaurants who boast the use of local organic farmers.

Current Creative Platform

  • In 2011 the Visitors Bureau created a new logo and executed a new advertising campaign.
  • The website, is produced in-house with Simpleview.
  • The Visitors Bureau is committed to produce a visitor guide and dining information; a countywide map; seasonal guides, supporting brochures such as event guides and Meeting Planners’ Guide.

I. Creative Development

The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau seeks an updated creative campaign, with a central design and call to action that encourages travel to its three towns: Chapel Hill/Carrboro (neighboring cities with similar attributes) and Hillsborough, NC twelve miles down the road, offering a similar but different experience for the visitor.
Visitors are drawn to greater Chapel Hill for its friendliness, University environment, safety, and relaxing environment. Visitors like to relax in the Chapel Hill communities. This includes “being themselves,” exploring the greenery, walkability and southern food. Visitors like to people- watch, stroll, loaf, and enjoy the ambiance, which is described as easygoing, relaxed, historic, educational, and welcoming. Similarly, visitors were drawn to Hillsborough for its shopping, antebellum homes and friendly residents.

Agency experience should entail:

  • Audience analysis research
  • Recommendations for putting technology and print in sound strategy
  • Ability to produce work for different channels
  • Grass roots marketing to augment regional advertising
  • Search engine marketing and optimization experience
  • E-mail marketing and public relations access (although not critical to account).
  • On-line advertising;
  • Direct response experience—how do we track our success?

Proposal due by May 18, 2017 to:
Orange County Purchasing Department
P.O. Box 8181
Hillsborough, NC 27278

M Booth Associates and Fleishman Hillard are both PR firms located in North Carolina.

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