CLAY COUNTY – The county’s tourism department’s marketing and digital media efforts are paying off and perhaps to nobody’s surprise, fishing has proven to be very popular in the …
CLAY COUNTY – The county’s tourism department’s marketing and digital media efforts are paying off and perhaps to nobody’s surprise, fishing has proven to be very popular in the area.
Tourism director Kimberly Morgan invited a representative from EVOK, who helps the county’s digital media presence, to discuss the results of February, which was a great month for Clay’s tourism. That representative explained that the county’s tourism website was performing extremely well and that its metrics are continuing to get better.
“Nobody has a handle on what the economy and tourism are going to do, but we are doing better than we thought we were going to be doing,” Morgan told the TDC.
Organic traffic to the county’s tourism site, ExploreClay.com, increased 74% month by month, keyword volume increased 33%, and search traffic increased by 56%. People were searching for terms like “Belmore State Forest,” “Clay County Florida” and “Clay County Strawberry Festival.”
In terms of Google results, though, the county’s fishing-related ads beat out any and everything followed by springs and water activities, weddings and event planning. Ads about these things and others brought the county three million impressions on Google and more than 42,000 clicks with another 260,000 impressions on Facebook. Ads about treehouses, food, golf and sunsets in Clay County were most popular on Facebook and these ads were most popular with people aged 55 and older.
Morgan said she thinks that age group is what’s popular right now because that age group is getting more and more vaccinated, which means that age group is more likely to travel.
Morgan requested a contract renewal with EVOK media that includes funding that amounts to roughly $201,000. That cost is for a second year of service and includes things like a regency retainer, media costs, search engine optimization, video and photography and contingency. The TDC approved the renewal unanimously.
“We are asking for a 2% increase to the advertising budget,” Morgan said. “A total of $201,450 for year one and it’s allocated out by discipline. The year three total is $205,500. One thing that we request is that we add to the contract not only numerical changes, but also that any unspent dollars go toward marketing.”
Morgan said if the marketing expects a $20,000 bill for a video shoot that ends up only costing $15,000, they’d like to be able to put that leftover $5,000 toward marketing.
In other business, Morgan said the county is down 12% in bed tax collection. This is better than last year, she said though, and that even though 12% doesn’t look great on paper, it looks amazing compared to last year’s “dismal” numbers.
“Our numbers in February on the weekends were highly positive from an occupancy perspective,” Morgan told the TDC during its meeting. “The rate continues to be a challenge, but occupancy has flip-flopped from weekday business being the norm to weekends being stronger, which means we can say we’re a leisure destination now.”
The county’s many Airstream Ventures sporting events will likely only help those numbers. The American Cornhole League will be in Clay County from April 16-18; the Sunshine State Games, which include baton twirling, ultimate frisbee, disc golf, pickle ball and a canoe marathon, will be in the county from June 11-13; and, the Youth Lacrosse Tournament arrives on June 26-28, and the U.S. Cycling competition is scheduled from June 24-28.
The year will be capped off with a massive, large-scale Nitro rallycross races at the Florida International Rally and Motorsports Park at the Keystone Heights Airport. That’s expected to draw thousands of participants and put Clay County in front of millions of digital eyes through streaming and broadcasting.