As a result of direct and indirect media efforts, Gettysburg received over 900 media placements this year in publications and platforms such as Forbes, TravelPulse, Trivago Magazine, AAA.com, Insider, Arlington Magazine and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. International coverage was secured in nine publications from Italy and China. Through direct communication efforts, 19 placements were made throughout multiple group tour and meeting market publications such as Mid-Atlantic Events Magazine, Small Market Meetings Magazine, Select Traveler Magazine, The Group Travel Leader and Groups Today Online.
The communications department attended one sales mission in Toronto Canada and three media marketplaces including International Media Marketplace, IPW and Mid-Atlantic Tourism Public Relations Alliance Marketplace which resulted in numerous placements this year. A fall-themed media familiarization (FAM) tour brought in nine travel writers, bloggers and influencers from all over the mid-Atlantic from publications such as USA Today and the Travel Channels to experience all things fall and the Adams County Pour Tour.
On Destination Gettysburg's social media accounts, the follower count across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter increased by over 4,250 and engagements totaled in at nearly 173,000.
In March 2019 the communications department welcomed Natalie Buyny as the Director of Media and Public Relations in and Tori Hartman as the Social Media Manager in October.
In 2019, Destination Gettysburg secured placements in several high-profile industry publications such as Conde Nast, Food & Travel Magazine, GolfStyles Magazine, AAA Word - PA Attractions Guide, Table Magazine and ediblePhilly. In addition to print advertising, a digital billboard went live along the I-95 corridor coming out of Philadelphia, as well as eight bonus boards in regional areas including Harrisburg, Camp Hill and Westminister. Destination Gettysburg also launched coordinated campaigns with Expedia and iHeart Radio.
Following a successful fall marketing campaign, room demand was up 9.4 percent in November as reported in the November 2019 STR Report. The year-to-date demand is trending up 3.3 percent through November. We are waiting to see the impact of December reports and final 2019 demands.
There was a 39.7 percent increase in traffic to the Road to Gettysburg blog and an increase of 2.4 percent in overall website traffic through early December. In 2019, the marketing team started to segment the consumer subscriber list and began sending a quarterly events e-blast that has been received very well. The e-newsletter has an open rate of 39 percent (the industry standard in 13.63 percent).
The Adams County Pour Tour saw the introduction of a fifth beverage type, mead, in 2019. The trail also added seven new partners this year. The program continues to exceed expectations with more than 17,000 stamps and 2,000 prizes earned through the first 11 months of 2019.
Additionally, Destination Gettysburg worked cooperatively with Main Street Gettysburg to market the Gettysburg Christmas Festival in December 2019.
In 2019, the Membership Department officially became the Partnership Department with a focus on working with our business partners to provide valuable educational, marketing and networking opportunities.
Forty-four new business partners came on board this year, a 7.1 percent increase from 2018. Our retention this year is at an all-time high of 94.5 percent, something we are very proud of.
We hosted 20 events this year, ranging from our Hospitality Heroes Outings, 3-part Social Media Series, Digital Marketing seminar and our most recent and very popular, the festive Who-liday Gathering.
In the year 2019, the Sales Department hosted three FAM tours; one group leader FAM, one international group tour FAM and one meeting planner FAM. These three FAMs showcased the destination's history, food and countryside to over 60 tour operators, group leaders and meeting planners.
Destination Gettysburg attended eight tradeshows, including the American Bus Association's Marketplace and U.S. Travel Association's IPW, which resulted in 350 leads to share with our members.
While working with many large groups, including the Pontiac-Oakland Club, American Association of Community Theatre and the Pennsylvania Municipal League Annual Summit, over 20,000 welcome bags and provided almost 12,000 warm welcomes were distributed.
We also welcomed our new Sales Manager, Chrystal Charlesworth in October.