Tourism authority, transportation museum board partner for special events

  • Posted: Friday, February 15, 2013 11:32 p.m.
Thomas the Tank Engine rolls into the N.C. Transportation Museum in 2010. Visits by Thomas are some of the Spencer museum’s most popular events and in a new partnership, the tourism authorities of Salisbury and Rowan County will help market them.
Thomas the Tank Engine rolls into the N.C. Transportation Museum in 2010. Visits by Thomas are some of the Spencer museum’s most popular events and in a new partnership, the tourism authorities of Salisbury and Rowan County will help market them.

SALISBURY — The N.C. Transportation Museum Foundation and the Rowan County and Salisbury tourism development authorities have formed a strategic marketing partnership in an effort to increase visitation at the transportation museum and in Rowan County. 

The marketing partnership is centered on key special events held at the museum, such as a Day Out With Thomas, train excursions, and holiday-related events. The partnership seeks to maximize opportunities to market tourism events at the museum through a collaborative partnership that supports increased efficiencies, promotes shared resources and enhances the experience of citizens and visitors.


As the partnership develops, the joint tourism authorities will assume the primary marketing responsibilities for foundation-supported special events held in conjunction with the museum. Currently the foundation budgets around $50,000 a year for tourism event marketing; those dollars will be allocated to the tourism authorities for visitor marketing. The foundation and tourism staff will develop a budget and marketing plan for each event, and tourism staff will implement the marketing. The foundation and the museum will continue to coordinate and manage all event operations. Proceeds from these events provide operating funds for both the foundation and museum.

“This partnership will formalize the existing relationship between tourism and the foundation by conveying tourism’s commitment to the Transportation Museum,” James Meacham, executive director for the Rowan County Tourism Development Authority said in a news release. “Such a structure will enhance our capacity to effectively market visitor events at the museum and promote an authentic visitor experience that encourages visitor spending at the museum, in Spencer and throughout Rowan County.”

“The foundation is committed to the success of the Transportation Museum as a cultural attraction that grows the local tourism economy,” said Kelly Alexander, chief operating officer for the foundation. Alexander added that the new partnership “complements the goals of all parties — increased visitation and increased economic development. Marketing support for the museum and specifically tourism events has been a focus of the foundation, and partnering with the tourism authorities allows that focus to expand.”

One of the key benefits and motivations behind the partnership was connecting the museum with other attractions and events in Rowan County, noted Bill Burgin, chairman of the Salisbury Tourism Board.

“Completion & Connection, the tourism master plan, focuses on connecting tourism sites through enhanced marketing and partnerships,” Burgin said. “This agreement does just that. An increase in visitors to Spencer is good for Salisbury and good for all of Rowan County, and the Salisbury Tourism Board is committed to tourism throughout Rowan County.”

 As part of the partnership, the tourism authorities will identify areas where marketing events at the museum and the tourism authorities’ destination marketing program intersect and maximize such opportunities. Meacham calls it “efficient and cooperative marketing.” For example, if the museum has an event that appeals to families, such as a Day Out With Thomas, and Patterson Farms is hosting a family event too, the tourism authorities can now better connect the events and can simultaneously promote both events and all of Rowan County on a larger, more efficient scale, Meacham said.

“The marketing partnership will allow for a greater focus on out-of-town visitors and increasing overnight stays, which has a greater economic impact,” said Krista Osterweil, Rowan County Tourism Board chairwoman. Overnight visitors spend three times more per trip than day visitors and support more businesses during their visit, a key goal of the tourism authorities, said Osterweil.

Both the Rowan County and Salisbury tourism boards unanimously adopted the partnership agreement on Wednesday. The foundation board will vote to offer its approval at its Feb. 20 meeting.

This marks the third major partnership involving the tourism authorities in the last 15 months. The first involved restructuring the Rowan Arts Council in early 2012, followed by a marketing partnership with Downtown Salisbury Inc. in June of 2012. 

“These partnerships happened because of the vital partnership between the Rowan County and Salisbury tourism authorities,” said Burgin. 

The Rowan County Tourism Development Authority and the Salisbury Tourism Development Authority formed a joint tourism partnership in 2010.

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