• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

Commission delays vote on digital marketing firm renewal

The Woodford Tourist Commission’s monthly meeting Dec. 11 featured a discussion between members and representatives of the digital marketing firm that hopes to extend its contract with the commission. Brainbox Digital Group’s deal with the commission expires at the end of January, and the company is seeking a six-month extension of the contract. Brainbox representatives outlined their plan for social media management, newsletter development, website maintenance and other matters. Commission Chair Maria Bohanan suggested a new deal be for five months to align with fiscal year reporting requirements, noting that the commission must file its budgets with the state Departments of Local Government and Tourism. (The fiscal years for the state and county governments end June 30.) Members Ken Kerkhoff, Aaron Smither, non-voting member Elisha Holt and executive director Emily Downey will study the proposal, which could receive a vote at the commission’s Jan. 16 meeting. Financials Members voted 5 to 0 to approve the commission’s latest financial report. Expenses totaling $9,214.36 include $800 for December rent for the visitors bureau, $1,000 to Keeneland Magazine, $926.39 to Gathered Living (the company that hosts the visitors bureau), $104.57 to Versailles Printing, $233.20 to Spark Café, $2,500 to EKD Strategies, $200 to Ohio Magazine, $200 to the Bluegrass Tourism Marketing Association (BTMA) and $3,650 to Brainbox. Encumbered funds include $575 for the remainder of the Woodford Reserve mural on Lexington Street, $7,500 from the City of Versailles for that mural, and $650 for the horse farm mural across the street. The beginning balance was $104,535.12 and the ending balance was $86,595.96. The commission also voted unanimously to renew its annual membership with the Kentucky Tourism Industry for $145. Voting members present were Kerkhoff, Smither, Cortney Neikirk, Lee Howard and Neil Vasilakes. Director’s report Downey’s director’s report included a list of meetings she’d held with various players in the local tourism industry, including Bluegrass Regional and BTMA the week before. She said the state was working on a new tourism economic impact study that will be ready for the General Assembly’s session in January. A legislative update on tourism will be held Feb. 17, she said. A local “FAM” (familiarization) tour Jan. 23 will feature stops at The Galerie, the Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Wildside Winery, Life Adventure Center, Ashford Stud, Woodford Reserve and Spark Café, Downey said. The tour is designed to remind local industry leaders and others of what Woodford County can offer business and other visitors. Downey also spoke about a “McCracken Mile” tour under development that would start at the visitors center and feature visits to Castle and Key Distillery, Woodford Reserve and nearby horse farms. Hotel, bed and breakfast business? After the presentation by Brainbox, Smither suggested taking the 107 new email addresses the company had acquired and sending them to The Kentucky Castle, Holiday Inn Express & Suites and local bed and breakfasts to see how many can be converted to overnight stays. Nearly all of the commission’s revenue is derived from occupancy taxes, including $22,208 in the first three months of fiscal 2020.

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