VISIT NC SMOKIES Request for Proposal Destination Advertising Services

Proposals Due by 3:00pm EST on June 20, 2024


Hayley Printz, Administrative Assistant

Visit NC Smokies

91 N Lakeshore Dr. Suite 2

Lake Junaluska, NC 28745

Haywood County is a small destination in western North Carolina known for its natural beauty and cultural richness. Tourism promotion is currently carried out through the Visit NC Smokies brand name and website.

The Haywood County Tourism Development Authority (HCTDA), operating as Visit NC Smokies, is a public authority established by enabling legislation at the state level and created to manage the proceeds of a 4% occupancy tax paid by visitors spending the night in paid accommodations throughout the county. The HCTDA drives county-wide economic development and supports hundreds of local small businesses by promoting travel, tourism and visitor services, sponsoring tourism-related events, and financing tourism related capital projects that both make the destination more appealing to visitors and enhance our community for locals.

We are seeking a Destination Advertising Service firm with extensive experience in the travel and tourism sector and a track record of managing well-known brands and destinations. The ideal partner will combine creative excellence with cost-effective strategies to achieve impactful results.

Through a research-based process, HCTDA and its brand agency partner DCI, have developed a unified brand for Haywood County, designed to capture the essence of our destination. This brand architecture, including a brand promise and positioning statements plus a new logo design, will be introduced in August 2024.

Concurrently, work on our Tourism Master Plan is underway. It will be critical to ensure that upcoming advertising campaigns will not only embody the new brand but also align with the master plan’s strategic goals to promote sustainable and comprehensive tourism development in Haywood County.

In this RFP, the HCTDA seeks a full-service advertising agency to develop a comprehensive advertising campaign and provide integrated marketing services. The goal is to increase brand awareness and drive visitation to Haywood County, aligning with the strategies of our newly developed brand architecture and the goals outlined in our tourism master plan.

We invite proposals from firms that are prepared to collaborate closely with the HCTDA, applying strategic insights and creative solutions to promote Haywood County as a top travel destination.


The primary objectives of this engagement are to elevate Haywood County’s visibility as a premier tourism destination through strategic advertising campaigns and media planning. Key goals include:

Advertising Campaign and Media Planning:

• Develop a versatile advertising campaign adaptable to seasonal/year-round messaging, ensuring

relevance and engagement across different times of the year.

• Construct a strategic media plan that incorporates a mix of traditional and new media elements,

including but not limited to print, television, digital display, online video, digital native content, mobile, paid search, paid social, programmatic advertising, strategic marketing partnerships, and experiential marketing.

Creative Development:

• Create concepts that resonate with each season’s unique offerings, with the flexibility to run and evolve over a 2–3-year period.

• Ensure all proposed fees encompass the production costs for campaign execution, including any

recommended photography and video production. Note: The agency is encouraged to utilize Visit NC Smokies’ existing comprehensive library of destination photos and b-roll.

Images Samples can be found here.

Agency Services:

• Provide continuous support, encompassing campaign stewardship, competitive intelligence, and

campaign evolution based on analytics, ROI, and industry trends. The agency should offer thought

leadership and resources that aid informed decision-making by Visit NC Smokies and the HCTDA Board.

Reporting & Analytics:

• Deliver regular monthly reporting and end-of-campaign wrap-up reports detailing campaign

performance, asset summaries, and key takeaways, both qualitative and quantitative. The aim is to

evolve measurement and reporting practices to effectively communicate value and insights to HCTDA stakeholders.

Account Support:

• Ensure transparent communication regarding all campaign activities and production development, including an annual activity summary. The agency is expected to manage and attend on-site meetings as needed.

• Provide detailed budgets and schedules for approval before any paid media insertions, including a year ahead budget estimate at the fiscal year’s start for client review and approval.


• While this contract focuses on creating and implementing a broad-reaching advertising strategy, it does not cover website development, public relations, local marketing, or daily social media management.

Addressing the Zip-Code Marketing Challenge:

• Historically, Haywood County’s unique legislative mandate for allocating 1% of the 4% occupancy tax based on collection areas (zip codes) has led to a fragmented and less effective marketing approach.

This system, while designed to work towards equitable promotion across our diverse towns, often

resulted in inefficient and confusing advertising efforts. With the introduction of our new brand, we are poised to streamline our marketing strategies significantly. However, in doing so, we must continue to honor the legislative intent by promoting each collection area/ zip code distinctively. The firm selected through this RFP will play a crucial role in this transition. Together, we will innovate creative solutions and manage the budget in a manner that not only amplifies our overall brand but also demonstrates a tangible “multiplier effect” in promoting each area. This collaborative effort will include meticulous budget management to ensure transparency in how advertising dollars are allocated and spent across the collection areas/ zip codes. By doing so, we aim to meet our legislative obligations while moving towards a more unified and impactful marketing strategy that benefits the entire county.


This proposed Scope of Work (SOW) serves as a foundation for the partnership between Haywood County Tourism Development Authority (HCTDA) and the successful bidder. It outlines the essential services and objectives we aim to achieve through this collaboration. We welcome additional suggestions from bidding firms to enhance and refine this scope based on their expertise and our mutual goals for Destination Advertising Services.

Strategic Development and Planning:

• Create a detailed annual advertising plan, emphasizing strategic media and creative recommendations.

This plan should outline clear objectives, identify target markets, and propose specific strategies with measurable objectives for each. It must also detail tactics for achieving these objectives and integrate all activities cohesively.

Media Management:

• Handle research, planning, negotiation, and placement of media, including any related value-added programs. This encompasses managing traffic and ensuring strategic deployment across chosen platforms.

Creative Development and Production:

• Develop and produce strategic, results-driven creative content. This includes managing the production process and ensuring timely delivery to media outlets.

Partnership and Collaboration:

• Forge and execute brand and promotional partnerships that align with the brand’s vision and


• Collaborate closely with the Visit NC Smokies team to integrate various marketing strategies, including offline and online tactics, SEO, social media, and public relations efforts.

Analytics and Reporting:

• Implement and manage analytical tools to measure the impact of digital media strategies, reporting findings to the Visit NC Smokies team.


• The scope does not cover visitor guide creative and production, social media execution, public relations, or website management. However, an understanding of how these channels interplay with broader campaigns and the ability to suggest integrations is expected.

Research Enhancement:

• While Visit NC Smokies conducts its market research, the agency may recommend additional research initiatives to support and validate strategic decisions.

Staffing Continuity:

• Outline a plan for maintaining service levels during staff changes or absences, ensuring continuity in professional service.

Subcontractor Management:

• Provide details on any significant subcontractors, including the roles and biographies of key personnel assigned to the account.

Intellectual Property Management:

• Manage all intellectual property matters related to the project, securing necessary permissions and handling registrations for materials developed under the contract.

This SOW seeks to establish a comprehensive, strategic partnership to elevate Haywood County’s presence in the tourism market. Firms are encouraged to present their approach to achieving these objectives, demonstrating how their unique capabilities and experience will contribute to the success of Haywood County’s tourism initiatives.

Research and Information Available through current Tourism Master Plan and Branding Work

Through a very competitive international selection process, a unique team of professionals was chosen, including Development Counselors International, Tourism Impact Services, Destination Consultancy Group and Nichols Tourism Group. The collective team is collaborating with HCTDA and local partners to develop destination branding, a tourism strategic master plan and sustainable destination evaluation.

• For more information on the process:

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