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Visit Oxford creates plan to put heads in beds

Filling hotel rooms in Oxford during football season or for events like the Double Decker Arts Festival is easy enough, however, local businesses rely heavily on out-of-town guests throughout the year and that’s what Visit Oxford – Oxford’s local tourism organization works all year to accomplish.

“Our goal is to bring people here all year long and not just during football season,” said Visit Oxford Director Mary Allyn Hedges Tuesday during the Oxford Board of Aldermen meeting where she presented Visit Oxford’s 2018 Marketing Plan.

“This is our playbook that we refer to all year,” she said.

A market research study done in 2016 by Young Strategies for Visit Oxford revealed that overnight leisure travel parties consist generally of middle-aged adults or families with children who are well educated and/or retired and drive three to six hours on average to come to Oxford. The most visitors come from Dallas and Houston, Texas; Atlanta, Georgia, Birmingham, Alabama and Nashville, Tennessee, and those are the main markets for Visit Oxford.

Tax revenue created by tourism brings in millions of dollars to Oxford each year. The 2 percent food and beverage tax and the hotel/motel tax have both steadily increased since 2009. In the fiscal year 2016, there was a 44 percent increase in the hotel/motel tax and a 14 percent increase in the food and beverage tax from the year prior.

With more and more hotels being built around Oxford, Visit Oxford has an even tougher job to fill those rooms during nontraditional busy times of the year.

In 2018, Home2Suites off South Lamar Boulevard will add an additional 93 hotel rooms in Oxford, bringing the total of hotel rooms to 1,171.

To help fill those beds, Visit Oxford has increased in advertising budget. For 2018, Visit Oxford has dedicated more than $167,000 to advertising costs, a $67,000 increase from last year’s budget.

Most of the advertising is done digitally, 54 percent, with 46 percent in print ads.

Visit Oxford was recently awarded an advertising match grant from Visit Mississippi for almost $40,000.

These additional advertising funds will enhance Visit Oxford’s media schedule through the Weather Channel app ads, Matador Network digital story and social media and Endless Vacation and AAA Southern Traveler print ads.

According to the Marketing Plan, Visit Oxford will begin working on a rebrand and new creative ideas for advertising campaigns.

“For now, Visit Oxford will continue with the same look, using a new tagline in advertising: Everything That’s Great About the South, Squared,” the plan states.

Visit Oxford will also continue growing its social media presence and hosting travel writers.

“Travel writers allow us to be featured in publications we might not otherwise be able to afford,” Hedges said.

For more information, go to www.visitoxfordms.com.