VBR campaign launch

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge President Landon Howard describes the new $1 million “Be a #Trailsetter” campaign Tuesday at the Roanoke City Market Building. The effort will market the region’s outdoors amenities, such as mountain biking, to tourists and locals.

Regional tourism agency Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge is launching its largest-ever marketing campaign, centered around the outdoors.

The campaign “Be a #Trailsetter” will cost more than $1 million, more than any previous effort by the organization, and it will target tourists from surrounding states as well as locals. It will showcase the mountains and all the outdoors amenities in the region, advertising the Roanoke Valley as a “metro-mountain vacation destination.”

Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge revealed the campaign at its annual meeting Tuesday. The marketing push will include print, TV and social media, and most impressions will be seen in the Northern Virginia suburbs, Richmond, Norfolk, and cities in North Carolina.

But a major aspect that separates this from other campaigns is the local push. Tourism officials want locals to be aware of the messaging and support it. Debora Wright, vice president of marketing and communication for the organization, said a significant number of the region’s visitors come to here to see family, so it’s important that residents know about the best features of the region so they can relay the message.

The campaign is designed to advertise amenities including mountain biking, which has become very popular in the last few years, and other outdoor recreation. It also incorporates local festivals, history and craft food and beverages, such as the region’s breweries.

The funding comes from the cities of Roanoke and Salem and Roanoke, Botetourt and Franklin counties, representing more than 300,000 residents.

Tourism has shown steady regional growth in the last several years, bringing in $850 million in visitor spending in 2018. Data from STR Inc. show that the region had the highest percentage of growth for hotel room demand in all of Virginia last year.

Mike Dame, vice president of marketing and communications at Carilion Clinic, said this is the boldest tourism push he has seen from Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. He plans for Carilion to use some of the marketing materials, including a two-minute video advertising the region, for Carilion recruitment. Virginia’s Blue Ridge spokeswoman Catherine Fox also said the video will be shown before movies at the Grandin Theatre.

Organization president Landon Howard said he is asking the community to leverage the campaign for their own businesses. Resources for businesses and more information on the campaign, including the video, can be found at www.visitvbr.com/partners/branding-kit.

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