CARRBORO, NC -- Last week, the Carrboro Tourism Development Authority (CTDA) launched “Visit Carrboro,” an initiative to promote safe travel and tourism in the Town of Carrboro. The new initiative includes a dynamic new website (www.VisitCarrboro.com), beautiful photography, two engaging videos, and active social media (#VisitCarrboro) - all of which convey the Carrboro “feel free” spirit.
“The pandemic and economic contraction have made safe travel and tourism more important than ever,” said Donald Strickland, Chair, Carrboro Tourism Development Authority and Area General Manager, Atma Hotel Group and the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Carrboro. “Our local businesses need Visit Carrboro. Tourism matters, and the new website, photographs, and videos show tourists that they can feel free and safe in Carrboro, and that all are welcome.”
Promoting safe travel and tourism during the global pandemic is important for two reasons. First, revenues are down for many local Carrboro businesses. They need more customers and tourists are a key market. Second, NC public health officials have confirmed that safe commerce is possible with the 3 W’s: Wear a mask, Wait 6 feet apart, and Wash your hands. Carrboro businesses are demonstrating safe commerce with strong sanitation and covid-conscious practices. The CTDA encourages all visitors to follow the Town of Carrboro’s safety guidelines.
Before developing the new assets, the CTDA performed research to inform the overall strategy, substance, and style of Visit Carrboro. Findings from a Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau (OCVB) study confirmed details about Orange County visitors:
- Two-thirds of visitors come to Orange County for university-related reasons such as sports, medical, business meetings, and continued education.
- A majority of visitors come from Charlotte and other UNC affinity campus areas, and then secondarily from throughout the mid-Atlantic.
- Visitors enjoy the food, music, walkability, history, good climate, and overall relaxing vibe, and want a nice escape from their routines.
- Chapel Hill is the primary port of entry, and the CTDA has an opportunity to convince visitors to make it a weekend stay and enjoy the many unique experiences in Carrboro.
Based on these findings, the primary audience for Visit Carrboro is overnight guests, the secondary audience is day-trippers, and the tertiary audience is locals - those who want to be a tourist in their own town, are entertaining out-of-town guests, or taking staycations.
Once the primary audience was determined, the CTDA researched the Carrboro story and value proposition for visitors. The Splinter Group recently developed the Carrboro brand story, which is as follows:
You couldn’t make this place up! Carrboro isn’t just a town - it’s a feeling. You’ll know what we mean when you get here. There’s an openness and optimism that encourages creativity and freedom of expression. It’s a place where more is possible and the uncommon is common. Visit Carrboro and feel free to unwind, dream, follow your heart, create, taste, shop, play, and be yourself!
The CTDA pulled this narrative through all assets to paint a picture for prospective visitors of what it feels like to be in Carrboro, and how all are welcome.
The new website (www.VisitCarrboro.com), developed by Carrboro Creative, features a clean and simple navigation bar across the top that makes it easy for visitors to learn about Carrboro, explore the town (links to maps and tours), review sample weekend itineraries, and mark their calendars for featured festivals and events.
As visitors scroll down the site, they see an artistic image of Carrboro in the center of the state, designated with a heart and complete with a table listing the distances from targeted locations. The image shows how convenient a weekend roadtrip to Carrboro is for many prospective visitors.
The new website features five sample itineraries targeting the: 1) covid-conscious traveler, 2) foodie and beer lover, 3) self-care yogi, 4) artist and musician, and 5) outdoor adventurer. All five itineraries show travelers a full and exciting weekend from Friday afternoon through Sunday evening, and each promotes uniquely Carrboro opportunities.
The itineraries feature many well-known tourist attractions, including walking through the Carrboro Farmers’ Market, enjoying a buttermilk biscuit from Neal’s Deli, and going to a show at the Cat’s Cradle (when not in a global pandemic). The itineraries also promote other special attractions that are off the beaten path, including: 1) savoring a mouthwatering Mexican baked good from the Panadería in Carrboro Plaza, 2) enjoying a relaxing salt soak at Areté Float Tank & Personal Optimization Studio, 3) taking a trail ride that culminates with a craft beer at one of Carrboro’s many local breweries, 4) healing the body, mind, and heart with some tea and kratom from Oasis Cafe at Carr Mill Mall, and 5) enrolling in a cooking class at C’est Si Bon Cooking School, a jewelry making class at James Carter Studio, or an art class at The ArtsCenter.
*Note: The CTDA is actively promoting the “Carrboro Cares” itinerary, which is for the covid-conscious traveler, and will promote the other four itineraries when the pandemic concludes and businesses are back to normal operations.
Another key feature of the new website is the geo-pinned map powered by Google and managed by the OCVB, which features the many places and spaces in Carrboro.
Any Carrboro enterprise not yet featured on this map should create a free Google business listing and their organization will automatically appear on the map.
The new website features three beautiful photo galleries, compliments of local photographers, David Jessee and Tom Simon.
- The first gallery, “It’s Carrboro, Feel Safe,” features photographs by David Jessee that show visitors that they can have a safe and fun experience in Carrboro during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The second gallery, “It’s Carrboro, Feel Free,” features photographs also by David Jessee that show visitors what it is like to be in Carrboro in normal times.
- The third gallery, “You Can’t Make this Place Up,” features photographs by Tom Simon that show visitors how to live like a local in Carrboro.
I-40 Films created two new Visit Carrboro videos, both energized with music and animation that draw visitors to Carrboro. The first video, “It’s Carrboro | Feel Safe,” targets the covid-conscious traveler with emphasis on the safe and fun times to be had in Carrboro now. The second video, “It’s Carrboro | Feel Free,” targets all prospective visitors with an emphasis on what it feels like to be in Carrboro during normal times and will be promoted post-pandemic. Both videos feature photographs by David Jessee and Tom Simon, and a voiceover by local entrepreneur Darrell Wall.
The CTDA is promoting an organic social media effort with the use of #VisitCarrboro across all social media platforms. Local business owners and managers are encouraged to use the hashtag to promote their enterprises as tourist destinations.
The CTDA launched Visit Carrboro last Thursday, November 5th with an online event which engaged more than sixty participants and featured a dozen speakers, including the Mayor of Carrboro, Lydia Lavelle. Watch the launch event and view the presentation. The next day, CTDA Chair Donald Strickland and Acme Food & Beverage Company Chef/Owner Kevin Callahan discussed Visit Carrboro live on 97.9 The Hill WCHL Chapelboro.com with host Aaron Keck. Listen to the radio interview. On Saturday, November 7th, the CTDA hosted a table at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market and distributed Visit Carrboro promotional materials (branded reusable bags, stickers and face coverings) coordinated by The Merch.
The Town of Carrboro is recruiting a volunteer to serve on the CTDA. All interested parties should apply online at https://www.townofcarrboro.org/FormCenter/Town-Clerks-Office-25/Advisory-Board-Application-97 and contact Town Economic Development Director Jon Hartman-Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Visit Carrboro: Visit Carrboro is a product of the Carrboro Tourism Development Authority (CTDA), developed and launched in 2020, with all creative elements coordinated by local organizations: Project management by the Carrboro Business Alliance with strong collaboration from the Town of Carrboro, website design by Carrboro Creative, photography by David Jessee and Tom Simon, videography by I-40 Films, original logo design by The Splinter Group, merchandise coordinated by The Merch, historical consultation by Richard Ellington, and historical photos from The Watts Collection.
Carrboro Tourism Development Authority: The CTDA is a public authority enabled through state legislation in 2001 and established by the Carrboro Town Council in 2012 to promote travel and tourism in the Town of Carrboro. The travel and tourism-related expenditures of the CTDA are funded through the proceeds of a 3% Occupancy Tax. The CTDA members are volunteer leaders from the Carrboro hospitality industry who are appointed to term-limited spots on the board by the Carrboro Town Council.
Contact: For questions, contact Visit Carrboro Project Manager, Katie Loovis at (919) 696-0781 (cell) or KLoovis@carolinachamber.org