Tupelo CVB will realign staff, goals

By Carlie Kollath Wells/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau board is putting its money where its mouth is.
Last month, board members approved a strategic plan geared at getting visitors to spend the night. Tuesday, the board fleshed out the plan, which is based on research gathered by consultant Berkeley Young.
“A big part of this is realignment,” he said.
The board on Tuesday heard the proposal to realign the CVB staff to four sales positions.
The plan also includes adding an employee to do public relations and international sales.
Neal McCoy, executive director of the Tupelo CVB, said current staffers won’t lose their jobs if the realignment is approved at the September board meeting.
“There’s plenty of work for everybody,” he said. “Nobody’s losing a job. Nobody’s taking a cut in pay.”
The CVB’s new target audience includes corporate meetings, association meetings, small groups with less than 30 people, team sports and large groups that will come on Sundays.
Plus, the approved strategy includes marketing Tupelo as the destination for Elvis and Americana. McCoy said the branding will get fleshed out more next year.
The CVB also wants to be more proactive about making sure visitors have a good time when they get to Tupelo. Board members at the morning retreat at the Tupelo Country Club said too many business travelers are staying in their hotel lobbies because they don’t know what there is to do at night in Tupelo.
The CVB proposed creating a new position, called an in-market specialist, to encourage businesses to have events and to match visitors up with those events. They jokingly called it a match-making service.
“We aren’t creating the events,” McCoy said. “We are the conduit to get people together.”
The CVB also plans to be more visible in the community. The CVB plans to create a mobile information unit that can drive to the Mall at Barnes Crossing on the weekends to get information to tourists. Plus, the CVB’s vehicles will be “wrapped” with advertising for Tupelo. No decisions were made at Tuesday’s meeting. The board is expected to vote on the budget at its Sept. 4 meeting.

Budget Projects
The Tupelo Convention and Visitors Bureau board included several projects in its proposed $3.7 million budget for fiscal year 2013. Some of the items:

$1 million for repaying debt on the BancorpSouth Arena

$150,000 for the Elvis Presley Birthplace expansion

$103,000 for paying off visitor center renovation loan

$100,000 for the new aquatic facility

$100,000 for Civil Rights and Civil War markers around

$50,000 for the Elvis Presley Festival

$50,000 for the Tupelo Furniture Market

$25,000 for a Vietnam Veterans Wall at Veterans Park

$10,000 for Elvis Presley driving tour marker in East Tupelo

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