Thursday, March 4, 2010

Selling DeKalb County at Travel Shows by John Dersham

Selling DeKalb County at Travel Shows

This year the DeKalb County Tourist Association will attend a number of travel shows. These travel shows help us sell our area as a travel destination. The DeKalb County Tourist Association works at these travel shows in conjunction with North Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and the Alabama Department of Tourism and Travel. In total we have about 50’ of exhibit area. Thousands of people over a 7-10 day period visit each large travel show. We get hundreds that come by our exhibit and talk to us about our area. It gives us a chance to encourage potential travelers to come here on their vacation. This winter I worked the Cincinnati and Indianapolis travel shows. Other people representing tourism in North Alabama worked Louisville, St. Louis and New Orleans. Later this spring the DeKalb County Tourist Association will have our exhibit at three mall travel shows, including; Cool Springs Galleria in Franklin, TN, Hamilton Place in Chattanooga, TN and Mt. Berry Square in Rome GA. We pick the markets we want to attend based on a collection of information coming from website inquires, information collected in our information center guest book, and phone calls. This gives us information on where people are from. We are a drive to market. We find most of our visitors come from 300 miles or less. Our guests come because of our relaxing scenic venues. They come from non mountainous areas just to have a mountain get-away. We are the closest mountains for many parts of Louisiana, Southern Alabama, Florida Panhandle, Mississippi, Central Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, mostly along the I-65, and I-59 corridors. We find East Tennessee and North Georgia are not big customers of ours because they have their own mountains. Many people coming to our area and to other locations in North Alabama are coming to fish, hike and camp. Others come on scenic driving tours and many of these tourists seek out B&B’s or rental cabins. Golf at the Robert Trent Jones trails is big in some parts of North Alabama as is sports tournaments. DeKalb County fares best in the leisure traveler market. Our area is very well known and very well liked in all of the areas I mentioned above. Our Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway is host to many motorcycle tours, antique auto tours and regular scenic passenger travel through Little River Canyon National Preserve and DeSoto State Park and DeSoto Falls. In addition our scenic parkway is the host road through our section of the extremely popular World’s Longest Yard Sale, every August.
In addition to visitors, we are getting quite a few people moving to our area from the above mentioned; especially Louisiana and Mississippi. During the winter months we get a nice share of Canadians and Northeasterners coming south to escape awful cold and snowy weather. Many go to Florida and work their way back up through our area.