Visitors and Convention Bureau funnels folks to Streetsboro

by Mike Lesko | Reporter Published:

Streetsboro -- The attendance at the just-concluded Streetsboro Family Days festival, one of the city's annual highlights of the summer, was undoubtedly increased by advertising by the Streetsboro Visitors & Convention Bureau, said VCB Director Lisa Wild.

"We try to promote it a lot because of the large amount of free entertainment," she said. "It draws people from outside the area."

When visitors wind up in Streetsboro to visit any attraction, either in or out of town, it often is due to the VCB, which attempts to funnel people into the city.

"Our purpose is to attract people from outside areas to utilize our hotels, go to our restaurants and attend events that they may not know about," Wild said.

The VCB functions with money from the city's bed tax, which is the 1.5 percent of hotels' taxes that are collected by the city. The VCB receives a quarterly check to the VCB. That is the bureau's only funding, she said.

In 2013, the VCB received five payments for about $155,000 in bed taxes, according to Streetsboro Finance Director Jenny Esarey, and so far in 2014, the VCB has received three payments totaling about $100,000, including the fourth quarterly payment for 2013.

Wild said 65 percent of the bureau's budget is advertising, 7 percent is her salary and the remaining 28 percent is overhead, including rent, insurance, office supplies, postage and memberships in organizations like the Streetsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, Adventures in Northeast Ohio and the Ohio Association of Conventions and Visitors Bureaus.

Out of the 65 percent for advertising, about 20 percent is for the visitors guide and about 45 percent is for general advertising, she said.

Wild is the only employee, having served as director since 2006. The office is located at 8929 Route 14 in Streetsboro.

The bureau has a 10-person Board of Directors group that makes decisions on advertising, approves the budget, thinks of additional ways to promote Streetsboro and oversees the functions of the VCB and its staff, Wild said.

The board members include Cathy Slevin (Comfort Inn & Suites), Cindy Peterson (Wingate by Wyndham), Chris Tsilianidis (The Happy Moose), Jeff Allen (Allen's Alloys), Chris Mosher (Gateway Towing), Chuck Kocisko (Streetsboro Family Days & Streetsboro Planning Committee), Kevin Grimm (Streetsboro Fire Department), Andrea Salemi (Boulder Creek Golf Club), Lori Davis (Wildwater Kingdom), Dianne Kozloski-Reynolds (Streetsboro resident).

Wild said her bureau works with the Streetsboro Area Chamber of Commerce, collaborating on things like the senior high school luncheon and participating in the Chamber directory.

Kocisko said, "[The VCB] tries to bring people into Streetsboro, and then the Chamber takes care of them from there. That's what we [VCB] strives for. The VCB works with the Chamber, but each one is [responsible for] doing their own thing."

In addition to the city's hotels, visitors can stay at the city's two campgrounds, which are not required to provide bed tax funds to the city.

Wild also said there is an advertising committee that decides which ads will and won't work. The advertising committee is comprised of Slevin, Peterson, Kocisko, Salemi and Kozloski-Reynolds.

About 100,000 VCB visitors' guides were printed this year, which is the most ever, Wild said. They are on display at all Ohio Turnpike welcome centers and include discount tickets.

"We try to keep it compact so people will hold onto it," said Wild, adding that the 4-inch by 9-inch pamphlet includes a brief description of area events plus websites and maps.

The VCB also advertises on the Ohio Turnpike, the American Automobile Assocation, the Streetsboro Gateway News and Record-Courier, Ohio Magazine and student publications at Kent State University and Hiram College, she added.

Wild believes Streetsboro is fortunate to have a turnpike exit that can lead visitors into the city. There is a 30-second TV commercial promoting Streetsboro that is produced by Streetsboro High School students under the direction of teacher Tom Fesemyer that runs at seven of the Ohio Turnpike Welcome Centers -- at Mahoning Valley, Portage Plaza, Tiffin River, Wyandot, Commodore Perry, Vermilion Valley and Towpath plazas.

"We have it airing at all the plazas heading westbound toward Streetsboro from Pennsylvania and all of the plazas heading eastbound towards Streetsboro from Indiana," she said.

"They do a wonderful job," she said, referring to the high school students.

VCB ads are also on the outside of toll booths at turnpike exits 218 and 239.

"The fact that we have an exit on the turnpike is perfect," she said. "Streetsboro is 30 minutes from Cleveland and Akron. People look for the major cities."

The bureau promotes anything in Streetsboro from Boulder Creek Golf Club, DayBreak Lavender Farm, The Jump Palace, Zip City USA and Family Days.

Outside of Streetsboro, the bureau directs visitors to more than 60 nearby attractions including Geauga Lake's Wildwater Kingdom, Aurora Farms Premium Outlets, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad & National Park, Kent State University Museum, Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum.

For more information, go on the website to www.streetsborovcb.com.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9439

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