Berea Tourism planting boxes

Contributed photo

From left, Berea tourism staffers Nancy Conley, Donna Angel, Stan Spivey, and Wendy Robinson are shown in 2021 planting flower boxes in Artisan Village, an annual beautification project.

Andy McDonald

The Berea Tourism Commission unanimously adopted the 2023-2024 budget recently, which includes expenditures for city beautification.

Now one commissioner is challenging local business owners to follow suit in helping spruce up the city.

At the meeting, Tourism Commissioner Laura Carpenter praised the efforts of the tourism department, including the recent project to plant flower boxes in high traffic tourist areas. Tourism, Public Works and Berea Municipal Utilities staffers also team up regularly to deploy welcome banners and holiday decorations. Summer welcome banners will be installed soon, according to Business Development and Tourism Director Donna Angel.

Along with the city’s efforts, Carpenter hopes building owners will step up.

“I just want to say thanks for the beautification. I know we’ve talked about that a lot,” Carpenter said. “I’m hoping the money we spend for beautification will encourage landlords out there that own places next to our property to put a bucket of paint on them. I’m hoping [beautification] will be contagious. I hope whoever is listening out there, and property owners, you know who you are, spend some money and make them [their buildings] look as beautiful as we’re trying to.”

During discussion of the city’s annual budget, the commission committed $5,000 for city beautification, with Angel noting that investment in improving Berea’s appearance has already had a positive impact on the city’s image.

“We consistently get calls for property to rent, buy or lease, and that just shows you we look good to outsiders,” Angel said. “I do think that everyone cares about our city and they’ll jump on that,” Angel added regarding Carpenter’s suggestion.

Angel mentioned that representatives from other cities are also making visits to town to learn from Berea to appeal to prospective tourists.

Berea Tourism reaches 1M users on Facebook

Berea Tourism hit a big milestone last month when it reached one million Facebook users, according to Berea Tourism Media Manager Dani Gift.

Gift revealed the news during a recent meeting of the Berea Tourism and Convention Commission and noted her department had never reached that many accounts.

“I can’t take all of the credit for that because a lot of it is due to our paid advertising,” Gift told commissioners.

Since Gift joined the city approximately a year ago, Berea Tourism has embarked on a strategy to boost its social media following by leveraging paid advertising.

Gift explained she works with tourism staffers to select the right language and images, which then draws attention to Berea’s hospitality-related businesses and events on social media. So far, the results have been very positive, Gift said.

“It’s working. So, we were incredibly happy with that. We ended April reaching 1,037,266 individual accounts,” Gift said, adding that Berea Tourism’s message also reached 346,897 Instagram accounts during the same month.

Additionally, Gift revealed that Tourism’s newsletters/mass mailings are also drawing more attention, with a 47 percent open rate by recipients, compared to the industry average of just 20 percent.

In past reports to the Tourism Commission, officials noted that major metro markets have been targeted for advertising, including Lexington, Louisville and Knoxville.

In recent years, tourism commission members, including Rick Thomas, have questioned how the city could know it was getting a good return on its advertising dollars. For Berea Tourism Commissioner and artisan Becky Brown, Gift’s report appears to be a sign that Berea’s investment is working.

“That is amazing, that paid advertising is showing such amazing results with over a million accounts,” said Brown.

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