Unique shopping

A crowd of visitors strolls through downtown Nacogdoches during a recent Wassail Fest event. "Shopping outside the big box" is a recently launched theme promoting Nacogdoches to out-of-town guests.

Emphasizing nature, getaway weekends and unique shopping, the Nacogdoches Convention and Visitors Bureau targeted a wider range of potential visitors in the past year, says CVB Executive Director Sherry Chaney Morgan.

Morgan, beginning her third year heading up the CVB, gave an overview of its work in a report to City Council on Jan. 7. Funded through a portion of the city’s hotel occupancy tax revenue, the organization is charged with using the funds to promote more overnight stays. The CVB in 2018 launched a pet friendly campaign and unveiled a barn quilt trail, and in 2019 it spearheaded a Texas Music Friendly designation.

Advertising promoting Nacogdoches as a tourist destination in statewide publications such as “Texas Monthly” and “Texas Highways” includes a recently developed “We have a Nac for that” slogan.

“We chose to focus in winter months on our unique shopping opportunities — ‘Think outside the big box’ — to highlight our many independently owned and operated shops here,” Morgan said. “We are focusing currently on ‘Reconnect, rekindle and recharge’ so we could present Nacogdoches to a broader audience looking for girlfriend getaways, boyfriend getaways, couple getaways, family getaways.”

To keep an eye on what generates the most interest in Nacogdoches, the CVB monitors social media metrics. The opening of Insomnia Cookies and a “Meet the Jacks” event created the biggest stirs on social media during the last fiscal year.

“We’ve got numbers and charts and analytics for days,” Morgan told the council.

Among web site visitors, there is a strong showing from Chicago, according to the CVB report.

“It’s always interesting to see the source of the interest in coming to visit and stay with us and getting more information about us,” she said.

The CVB receives 72.5% of the city’s 7% hotel-occupancy tax. In Nacogdoches, the hotel-occupancy tax rate is 13%, with 6% going to the state.

This year, hotel occupancy in Nacogdoches was up only slightly — 1.1% — over the year prior.

“We are faring better than others of our size in remaining on the positive end of hotel occupancy,” Morgan said.

June, the month of the Texas Blueberry Festival, was the best month for hotels, followed by July and November, according to CVB data.

The downtown visitor center is manned by volunteers, recently remaining open during evening events such as the Nine Flags Parade and Wine Swirl. More than 14,000 people came through the Bright Visitors Center during the past year, a 13 percent increase of the year prior, the CVB reported.

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