PARKERSBURG - For the Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, 2012 was an "extremely good year" and 2013 will be really good if the organization keeps the focus on its visitors, said President Mark Lewis at the bureau's annual meeting Thursday.
About 50 people, representing attractions and local government, attended the meeting at the Parkersburg Art Center.
Lewis talked about his first year as president of the bureau, the retirement of former president Steve Nicely after 28 years this past September and the people throughout the community he has met and got to know.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
Greater Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau President Mark Lewis addresses the bureau’s annual meeting Thursday at the Parkersburg Art Center.
Lewis came to the CVB this time last year and worked with Nicely for a while to allow for an easier transition. Lewis was originally from this area and the transition period allowed him to get reacquainted with the area after 30 years away.
''I would like to thank the board for their foresight in allowing the long overlap and transition period, because what that did was give me the opportunity to go out and meet everyone in this room,'' Lewis said. ''I would like to thank Steve and Jan Nicely.
''They were great to me during the transition. They turned over to my care and keeping a highly functional and efficient top-notch organization.''
Over the last year, the area saw record hotel/motel taxes collected; increased visitors to the CVB's website; published its first motorcycle guide, and completed a 28-minute DVD titled "The Issue is Upon Us: Civil War in the Mid-Ohio Valley" in honor of the state's 150th anniversary.
The CVB is a destination marketing organization.
''Our job is to get the word out through a variety of different venues,'' Lewis said.
For 2013, the CVB has a new team in place: David Ashley doing sports marketing, Debbie Zyla will be the office manager and Cindy Sheppard is doing customer relations.
''I think we have a great team to move into 2013,'' Lewis said. ''They love tourism as much as I do.''
There will be five areas the CVB will be focusing on in 2013: reconnecting with the history/heritage focus of the area, which has been a big selling point; moving more into outdoor recreation by marketing local hiking, mountain biking and other activities; continuing efforts in sports marketing; marketing for motorcycle tours, and marketing to bring group tours into the area.
A push is on to market the area to Boy Scout councils in nearby states that will be coming into the state this summer for the National Scout Jamboree at the new Boy Scout High Adventure Camp at Summit Bechtel Reserve in southern West Virginia. Officials have said Parkersburg will become a "gateway community" for troops coming into the state and this represents a great opportunity for local hotels, businesses and attractions.
The bureau's attention has to remain on the people who visit this area and make sure they have a good experience, Lewis said.
''I think we will be fine as long as we keep our focus on the most important thing, which is our visitors,'' he said. ''Our visitors are our customers.
''What we do brings great value to our area in the form of profits for our area, support for local jobs and money to expand the local economy. If we can keep that visitor focus, we will do well.''