Council hears visitors bureau update


By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]



SIDNEY — The Sidney City Council heard a presentation on the Sidney Convention Center & Visitors Bureau (CVB) during its Monday evening meeting.

Jeff Raible, executive director of the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce, led the update discussion on the CVB, a destination marketing organization. Its purpose is to advance, encourage, and promote travel and tourism activities for the city of Sidney. The organization offers a full range of services that includes travel itineraries, hotel and restaurant selection assistance, area maps, meeting and conference facility assistance and more.

Before Raible’s presentation, City Manager Andrew Bowsher explained, by state law, 25% of lodging tax collections must be used for the support of a CVB. Sidney’s lodging tax was implemented in 2002 to help maintain city services during a time of economic stagnation, as well as to help diversify income. According to Ohio Revised Code (ORC), the lodging tax collections are to be deposited “into a separate fund, which shall be spent solely to make contributions to convention and visitors’ bureaus operating within the county in which the municipal corporation or township is wholly or partly located, and the balance of that revenue shall be deposited in the general fund.”

After soliciting proposals, Bowsher said, the city entered in an agreement with the Sidney-Shelby County Chamber of Commerce designating the Chamber as the agency responsible for administering the CVB, and was renewed in 2005.

During Raible’s presentation, he shared the CVB’s methods and mediums of promoting Sidney through print, digital, social media, visitors guides, travel shows, events and billboards which reached an about 4.1 million individuals in 2021.

“A pretty substantial reach — about a 30% gain over our advertising reach in 2020,” Raible told council members. “Of course, 2020 was a unique year in many respects, particularly as it related to travel and tourism, but 2019 was really the high-water mark for many in the travel and tourism business. We are not quiet back to where we were in terms of our advertising reach compared to 2019, or even in terms of the volume of traffic that we have seen to the city of Sidney for travel and tourism purposes as we did in 2019, but certainly we made great strides over 2020, and we are optimistic for the coming year.”

Raible showed various examples of brand applications in print, social media, media, outdoor billboards and also a new marketing video, all promoting Sidney’s new logo and image. He noted they are investing less and less on print advertising as more and more people look to the Internet for their travel plans.

“Digital print is where it’s at in terms of advertising,” Raible said, “the Internet is a good place to advertise. … Social media is a tremendous tool in our toolbox for advertising” on their main platforms of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The visitor’s bureau also has a YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjQKkcoIgaMtGrdh3kN5B8g

Sidney travel guides may also be found at rest areas along Interstate 75, and I-70 and I-69 in Indiana, as well as at consumer travel shows in Ohio and Pennsylvania. CVB also advertises on the large digital billboard on Michigan Street at Vandemark Road, which reaches approximately 45,221 cars per day, Raible said.

The CVB’s budget was significantly reduced last year due lack of dollars coming in from less travel in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, Raible noted. He said they tried to take advantage of local, Ohio co-op advertising with TourismOhio, in which their $6,175 was matched for advertising.

Raible then highlighted some of CVB’s work with the Great Miami Riverway, of which he said they have been a supporter of for the last 5 years.

The Great Western Ohio Bicycle Adventure is an upcoming two-night, three-day event Raible was excited to share with council that will return in June 2022. He said it is a big deal for Sidney because in the past, they have only stayed for one night. It historically attracts 1,000 to 1,500 riders. CVB is working with several partners to make this happen, including the Shelby County Fairgrounds to provide a place for bicyclists to camp after their first bike outing to Jackson Center. The second day they will ride to Wapakoneta or Troy and then come back to Sidney. Sidney Alive, The Historic Sidney Theatre, Wilson Health and Sidney Police and Fire Departments are also partners for the event.

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]