Bucks County may be chock full of historic spots, but the marketing experts at Visit Bucks County are ensuring it continues to evolve as a go-to travel destination.
The organization hosted its “What’s New 2020” breakfast on the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 29, at the Sheraton Bucks County on Oxford Valley Road in Langhorne, where 100 tourism partners enjoyed a hearty spread and networking, and learned about fresh initiatives planned for the coming months.
VBC president/COO Paul Bencivengo commenced the program with a look back at the success of 2019, which saw hotel room supply up 3 percent, and, according to STR, a research company for the hotel industry, occupancy up 5.8 percent in November (a record) and 2.8 percent in December.
“Even with more rooms available, the average occupancy was up nearly 4 percent in the peak travel season of May to August,” he said, explaining how this is a key indicator that more people are traveling to Bucks County and staying overnight.
According to the U.S. Travel Association, there is likely to be a 3.5-percent increase in domestic travel spending this year.
“Here in Bucks County, we have no plans of slowing down. Our momentum isn’t stopping and tourism in the county is truly booming,” Bencivenvo said.
In 2020, there will be 20 grand openings, eight expansions and 18 new/enhanced festivals, performances and exhibits.
These include the second annual Bucks County Food & Wine Festival on April 17-18 at Parx Casino; a massive renovation of Bensalem’s Barnsley Manor, which has plans to open its doors as a wedding and events venue; the opening of Key Spirits Distillery in Bensalem’s Riverwalk Complex; and the third annual Visit Bucks County Restaurant Week on April 26-May 2.
“This is all hospitality pride that we can all talk about and promote to bring new visitors to Bucks County,” he said.
In order to attract a wide audience to the county, VBC has been working diligently to keep up with modern trends. For example, it promotes the area as the perfect getaway for a mini vacation, since statistics show many don’t have time or money to take two weeks off work.
Heather Walter, VBC’s marketing director, shared additional projects. A large portion of her team’s work is revolving around Google, with more than 200 videos about Bucks County currently on Google My Business Listing.
“The average traveler spends 58 days looking at 23 different websites before they make a travel purchase. Why are we crazy? Everyone’s looking at a whole lot of content before they’re making that decision to move forward,” Walter said. “When people start to search for Bucks County or things to do in Bucks County, they’re landing on those immersive experiences that they’re seeking.”
More than half of visitors to VisitBucksCounty.com are millennials, who Walker said are seeking tailored, immersive, authentic content. In order to cater to their wishes, VBC launched a “Real Weddings” page, which features photos and stories of local couples who got married in the area.
Additionally, VBC is reaching its millennials through a podcast, which will pilot soon.
“It’ll be focused on the stories behind Bucks County businesses, and we have so many of them to tell,” Walter said. “It’s these entrepreneurial stories of brewers, chefs, shop owners, and how they brought their business to Bucks County.”
Breakfast-goers also heard from acting VBC board chairman Frank Lyons, who has owned Continental Tavern in Yardley for 12 years and served on the Friends of Washington Crossing board for nearly a decade.
“In statistics, what has Visit Bucks done? They have driven in the past year more than 8.1 million visitors to Bucks County. They’ve generated $1.1 billion in tourism dollars and economic impact. And the leisure hospitality industry in Bucks County supports 28,000 jobs,” he said. “That is incredible.”
After the presentation, attendees had the chance to speak with various VBC staff members, who were stationed throughout the room.
For a full list of what’s new in Bucks County, go to VisitBucksCounty.com/WhatsNew. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org