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Big Sky Convention and Visitors Bureau using funds to promote Montana

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By Renae Counter Editorial Assistant

BIG SKY—The Big Sky Convention and Visitors’ Bureau is taking on big projects this year with recent funding from the lodging tax and money left over from last year, said Wendy Swenson, CVB’s marketing specialist.

The CVB, along with Biggest Skiing in America, falls under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce and is responsible for promoting travel and tourism in Big Sky. Big Sky’s CVB is funded by a 10 percent revenue collected off the lodging tax, which reaches about $1 million a year, equaling approximately $100,000 for the CVB. With funds allocated in early June and rollover from last years’ unspent money, the CVB has approximately $170,000 in the budget this year.

CVB can partner with anyone in the state, but funding is used strictly for Visitor Center staffing, publications, and marketing projects designed to promote tourism in Big Sky.

The CVB is collaborating with the Chamber on an ongoing effort to roll out a new Big Sky brand and advertising campaign that will sell Big Sky as a year round travel destination.

“People already know that we are a ski destination,” Swenson said. “Through the marketing campaign we hope to get it out that we’re that and so much more. There is so much people can do here—zip-lining, rafting, hiking, biking, ropes courses, fine lodging and dining…we have so much to offer in the summer.”

One way in which CVB plans to get the word out is by utilizing traffic going into Yellowstone. In conjunction with Biggest Skiing in America and other CVBs around the region, Big Sky CVB hopes to capitalize on the 3.6 million visitors entering Yellowstone Park annually.

“We are lucky to be so close to Yellowstone and recognize that people are coming here for the park,” Swenson said.

By increasing CVB staff at the visitors’ center, it will be able to maintain longer hours, and stay open on weekend, holidays as well as high-traffic times of the day.

“Pulling traffic in and bringing people into the community is our number one goal,” Swenson said.

Finalizations have been made to move the visitors’ center and Chamber to the corner of Lone Mountain Trail and Highway 191, which will make the center more accessible to both visitors in route to Big Sky and Yellowstone.

Another project in the plans for 2012 is a revamp of the current Chamber/CVB website to help it better serve visitors and businesses. Also, with a continuous increase in mobile web traffic, the CVB also hopes to make the site more accessible to the on-the-go user.

“Online and mobile web is a big component of tourism, and we want to hit the best online market,” Swenson said. “We recognize that people are booking things on their smart phones while on-the-go, so we want to be able to pull them in through that by letting them know what Big Sky has to offer.”

Already in progress is a joint effort with Big Sky Resort, Bozeman CVB and Tourism Business Improvement District, Yellowstone Country, and Yellowstone CVB and TBID on a marketing campaign in New York, which will take place in the fall.

“The community is investing their money through paying taxes, and we want to be able to provide them a return by investing it in a way that will bring the money back into the community and the state.”

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