HD40 - Website Enhancements for Wineries and Bed and Breakfast Marketing

Executive Summary:
The General Assembly through the 2004 Appropriations Act required the Virginia Tourism Authority to enhance its Website with respect to the Commonwealth’s winery and bed and breakfast products. The language as written in the Appropriations Act, Chapter 4, Item 134.K is as follows:

"The Virginia Tourism Authority, in cooperation with the Virginia Wineries Association, the Virginia Wine Board and such other groups as necessary, shall enhance its 'Virginia.org' tourism website to include comprehensive hyperlinked listings of wineries, "bed and breakfast" establishments, and historic attractions by geographic area of the Commonwealth. The web site shall include photographs of wineries and other attractions, which the Virginia Tourism Authority shall request from the respective Virginia wineries. Such hyperlinked directory shall be designed to assist potential travelers to the Commonwealth in the development of travel itineraries, and shall be organized such that the information is searchable by geographic vicinity. The Virginia Tourism Authority shall report on revisions made to its web site to the Governor and the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees by November 15, 2004."

In the past two years, the Authority has enhanced its electronic marketing program to make the Virginia.org Website more user-friendly, rich in content and easy to search. These enhancements included an initiative to market Virginia’s wine and bed and breakfasts tourism industry more effectively. To accomplish this, the Authority has met and continues to work with the Virginia Wine Board and Virginia Wineries Association, including its newly appointed Marketing Director, to further develop and integrate our efforts. Both the Bed and Breakfast Association and Virginia Wineries Association maintain their own Websites, which are linked by the Authority on the http://www.Virginia.org Website. We work closely with these organizations to assure these marketing efforts are consistent and continuous.

The Virginia Tourism Authority garnered top honors at the August 2004 annual Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) in Boston, hosted annually by the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA). For wine marketing, the Authority also earned the Cooperative Marketing award for the "Gourmet Magazine" promotion that featured industry partnerships with the magazine, the Virginia wine industry and Virginia resorts. A record 14,000 leads were generated from the online promotion including a contest called the “Cure for the Culinary Challenged” which generated more than 6,200 leads alone.