Visit Bucks County shares record-breaking numbers and more at annual meeting

Visitor spending in 2018 resulted in a record-breaking $1.1 billion in economic impact to the local Bucks County economy

Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for Bucks County, held its Annual Meeting & Luncheon on Thursday, Oct. 10 at The Warrington.

VBC shared record-breaking economic impact statistics, newly-developed content, including the Bucks County Ale Trail and Sweet Spots Trail passports, results from consumer events in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., the 2019 editions of Well Seasoned food and beverage magazine and exciting marketing efforts utilizing new digital strategies, including geofencing and social retargeting campaigns.

“It’s an exciting time at Visit Bucks County, with an innovative team implementing cutting-edge strategies that bring tourists to the region to experience the county’s remarkable history, culinary scene and unique attractions,” said Bill Haas, board chairperson of Visit Bucks County. “Each year, this organization continues to support the hospitality industry and delivers impressive marketing campaigns that engage visitors by showcasing the beautiful place we call home.”

The Visit Bucks County Awards were given for the 10th consecutive year. Awards went to leaders who have influenced and supported the local tourism and hospitality industry: Glenn Blakely and Ray Kasper (Friends of Washington Crossing Park), The Faure Family (Golden Pheasant Inn & Restaurant), Adele Gamble (Ghost Tours of New Hope), and The Snipes Family (Snipes Farm & Education Center).

Jerry Lepping, former VBC board chairperson and VBC president and COO, was also recognized for his years of service to the hospitality industry.

Economic Impact Numbers

According to ESI, visitor spending in 2018 resulted in a record-breaking $1.1 billion in economic impact to the local Bucks County economy. Leisure and hospitality employment was 28,700, a 2.9 percent increase over 2017. Additionally, 8.15 million total visitors explored Bucks County’s countryside, enjoying area attractions, experiencing outdoor adventure and shopping, dining and indulging in the local flavor. For the 2019 summer season, hotel occupancy was up 3.5 percent and room night demand was up 7 percent from 2018.

Expanding Trails to Extend Stays

This year, VBC developed new ways for tourists to explore Bucks County through the launch of mobile Ale Trail and Sweet Spots Trail passports.

“Whether it’s families heading to Sesame Place and Shady Brook Farm or couples booking a weekend getaway, tourists are seeking unique experiences when making travel decisions,” said Paul Bencivengo, president and COO of Visit Bucks County. “We are thrilled to work with so many creative, culinary and beverage partners in Bucks County to market our longstanding Wine Trail, as well as the new Ale Trail and Sweet Spots Trail passports.”

These new passports encourage visitors to extend their stay by touring the area’s best breweries, creameries, bakeries, chocolatiers and coffee roasters spanning Upper, Central and Lower Bucks County. Trail goers can check-in at five or more locations via a mobile passport to earn their prize of a limited edition Ale Trail T-shirt or Sweet Spots Trail Bucky plush stuffed animal.

Advancing Digital & Video Strategy

VBC is focused on new, innovative digital campaigns and strategies to retarget consumers by delivering advertising tailored to specific interests. Strategies, including geofencing target market events like the World Pride Parade in New York City and Facebook retargeting, have resulted in a 32 percent increase in new users and a 16 percent increase in page views to VisitBucksCounty.com.

With more travelers using YouTube to plan vacations, VBC released season two of its popular YouTube series Check In. In each video, Bucks County innkeepers give visitors an inside look into the character, details and decor that make each property unique. Additional film projects including capturing more than 125 360-degree videos for Google were also produced this year.

Supporting the Industry Through Education & Advocacy

Bucks County continues to be a voice for the hospitality industry in Doylestown, Harrisburg and Washington, D.C. by keeping elected officials and legislators informed. VBC participated in the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Legislative Day and U.S. Travel’s Destination Capitol Hill.

VBC also developed educational content for the hospitality industry by bringing in experts from Yelp, TripAdvisor and The Knot to lead panels and discussions on topics ranging from “How to Maximize Your Online Presence” to “Turning ‘Likes’ into Leads.’”