The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 22, 2013

GOTL puts itself on the map

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE —  So this tourist comes wandering into one of the shops on The Strip at Geneva-on-the-Lake and asks for a map of the place.

The guy behind the counter looks at the tourist with bewilderment and says, “Whata ya mean? This is it. This is the only road in town.”

Marge Milliken of the village’s convention and visitors bureau said that scenario happens every summer, when thousands of tourists descend upon the village in search of nostalgic fun, food and wine. While the visitor’s bureau annually publishes a guide to The Strip’s attractions, the publication begged for a map to the place.

On Thursday, Milliken and many other Geneva-on-the-Lake tourism professionals joined up with the Ashtabula County Convention and Visitors Bureau to unveil the village’s new map-based 2013 visitors guide. The unveiling was held at the Lodge and Conference Center.

“We worked three years to go from a booklet to this map concept,” Milliken said. “The tourists are always asking us, ‘Do you have a map?’”

Nearly one-quarter of the 2013 fold-out guide is a stylized map of the village, with businesses, landmarks and entertainment hot spots creatively interpreted by illustrator David Slablek. The attractions are referenced by number to an amenities chart. Some of the advertisers include a coupon as part of their pitch to the tourists.

Jacklyn Krysa of the ACCVB assisted with the map project, production and printing of which was funded by advertising partners featured in the guide. Krysa said 50,000 guides were produced in preparation for the 2013 tourism season.

“I am predicting that Geneva-on-the-Lake will definitely run out of the 50,000,” Krysa said. “I am predicting that the village will print 75,000 of them next year.”

In addition to being available throughout the village, the guides will be mailed to every person who requests the ACCVB’s 2013 visitor’s guide. The 96-page, full-color guide features a colorful slice of the Geneva-on-the-Lake map on its back cover while the front features a colorful vineyard image at harvest.

Krysa said the ACCVB ordered 90,000 of the 2013 guides. A map in the centerfold highlights two driving routes to covered bridges as well as information about each bridge. Public fishing spots, lighthouses, wineries and the Western Reserve Greenway Trail also are marked on the map.

The ACCVB spends about $2 to mail a visitor’s guide to a prospective tourist. A mail partner program provides advertisers the opportunity to include their brochure for a nominal fee.

This year’s county visitors guide breaks into new territory with a “Live Like a Local” theme. The themed pages help tourists connect with the lifestyle of locals by providing “insider tips” and information about local food, history and recreation. Krysa said the bureau hopes to extend that theme to other quality of life areas in next year’s guide.

Requests for the guides come in by phone, through the door and email. Krysa said the Pittsburgh area generates the largest number of tourism inquiries for the bureau, but Columbus is rapidly moving up and came in second place last year. The Youngstown area is third.

The next marketing job for the ACCVB is cooperative advertising purchases for 2013. Krysa said the bureau and its advertising partners will spend $140,000 to promote Ashtabula County.