Thursday, May 29, 2014

DeKalb Tourism Information Center and Destination Marketing by John Dersham

Sometimes when I am out and about town someone will ask me why we are not promoting an event they are involved in locally. There are two answers to this question. Let me give you a little background. DeKalb Tourism is a non profit organization founded in 1953 to inform visitors about things to do and see in DeKalb County. We are; via an act of state legislation the official Tourism Organization in the DeKalb County. We in essence operate two businesses. First we operate a 7-day a week Tourist Information Center at 1503 Glenn Blvd. S.W. here in Fort Payne. At this location locals and visitors come to get information and printed material about things to do and see in DeKalb. At this location we will promote any public event that we are asked to. Please remember if no one tells us the event is happening then we cannot advertise it for you. We depend on the event organizers to call us or bring us their event information and advertising information so we can put it on our digital marquee and on our calendar of events that is available on our website and our mobile website at We also keep printed version of our calendar of events at our information center and we sent it via a mass email weekly. Call us to add your email to our list if you don’t receive it already at 256-845-3957. In addition we can hand out any printed material you have for your event and we can display a poster of your event on our advertising bulletin board. If you use Social Media to promote your event we will usually find it and share it on our social media accounts. The thing we cannot do for you is any kind of paid advertising.

The second part of our business is Destination Marketing.  We receive our income from a small portion of the lodging tax which is dedicated to the local tourism agency. We only get money when our visitors are here overnight at a hotel, B&B, cabin or campground. To attract overnight visitors we advertise on radio, TV, newspaper and magazine ads and we distribute our travel guides and printed material region wide via several companies that describe tourist information to hotels, attractions, restaurants and other various public locations. We attend out of town travel shows to promote DeKalb. When our visitors spend the night in DeKalb the tourism expenditures really help our cities, towns and county. Visitors buy their lodging, they eat out, they will buy gas and go to attractions and they will shop. This tax money fuels our economy. DeKalb Tourism has been successful enough that in ten years the lodging income and the dollars spent by tourist in DeKalb County have doubled. The largest portion of our lodging in DeKalb is collected in Fort Payne at exit 218 off I-59.
DeKalb Tourism does not buy paid advertising for local events unless it is an event that according to industry standards is likely to bring in overnight guests. For events like Boom Days Heritage Festival and Mentone Rhododendron Festival and Colorfest we have a budget to buy radio ads. These radio ads are heard across all of North Alabama, southern Tennessee and part of Georgia. We also have a printed guide we send to brochure racks across the state that has our county festivals on it. It is a misunderstanding by some event organizers, attractions or lodging facilities that we serve as an advertising agency for their individual business. This is not true. It is up to the individual event organizer, attraction or lodging facility to budget their outside advertising themselves. In the case of festivals the event organizers should actively seek free radio and TV interviews to promote their events and they should budget advertising money for printed ads and radio. DeKalb Tourism is often asked to be on TV or radio to promote things going on is our area and we do appear on TV fairly often but typically the radio and TV station in the case of an event likes to talk to the event organizers. The paid advertising DeKalb Tourism buys is all with the intent to lure visitors here by promoting the things our visitors are most likely to come here for which consist of leisurely scenic tourism with a low cost to visit, lots of scenic drives and hiking, waterfalls, cabins in the woods, B&B’s, campgrounds, state parks, Little River Canyon N.P., the Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway, the quaint town of Mentone, Historic Fort Payne with wonderful lodging, restaurants, parks and museums. We do not name specific lodging, restaurants, cabins or local business but ask them to go to our website to plan where they want to stay, eat, visit etc.
We strongly urge you to call us if you have an event you would like listed on our marquee and added to our calendar of events.
Please visit our website or mobile site at to see all we have there or come in and see the wide variety of printed information at our Tourist Information Center.