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Discover Lehigh Valley Annual Meeting Highlights the Region’s Resiliency

By Colin McEvoy on November 10, 2021

Discover Lehigh Valley President & CEO Alex Michaels spoke at the organizations virtual 2021 Annual Meeting on Nov. 9.

The resiliency of the Lehigh Valley was on display during the Discover Lehigh Valley Annual Meeting, which celebrated accomplishments from the past year, highlighted signs of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and looked to the future for tourism in the region.

“We expect next year to bring about new beginnings for the travel and tourism industry, and I am confident that the tourism industry is well-positioned for years to come,” Alex Michaels, President & CEO of Discover Lehigh Valley, said during the annual meeting, which was held virtually on Nov. 9.

The full broadcast of the virtual annual meeting can be viewed here, and Discover Lehigh Valley’s 2021 Annual Report can be downloaded here.

Discover Lehigh Valley highlighted travel and tourism data from the past year, as well as its varied marketing and advertising efforts. This includes Made Possible in Lehigh Valley, the marketing campaign for which the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) and Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce are also partners.

“The fourth quarter of the past fiscal year in the Lehigh Valley began to show promise toward a recovery as steady increases were made with each passing month,” said Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions, who hosted the event.

The Lehigh Valley welcomed 12.5 million visitors in 2020, according to Discover Lehigh Valley. While this is a decrease from 2018, the data indicates that 2020 did see an increase in the number of repeat visitors.

Sixty-nine percent of visitors were very satisfied with their overall trip experience and safety and security received the highest marks, Russo said. Since 2018, there has been a 10% increase in guests finding value for their money when spending it in the Lehigh Valley.

Hotel occupancy, which is the percentage of available rooms sold, peaked at a strong 77.6% in June, according to data from Smith Travel Research. Hotel room supply in the Lehigh Valley reached a high of 193,626 in May, and hotel room demand peaked in June at 145,371.

The measure of average rate paid for rooms sold in the Lehigh Valley, known as Average Daily Rate (ADR), peaked for the year at $104.46 in June.

Overnight visitors spent 170% more money in Lehigh Valley than daytrippers, and the average per party spend was $281 primarily on lodging, food and beverage, and retail purchases, according to the 2020 Longwoods International Report.

“While Discover Lehigh Valley can’t take credit for all of these visitors as a result of our marketing efforts, the team’s metrics and engagement certainly align to a significant piece of it,” Russo said. “We know the year was pegged with challenges from a holiday shutdown period, labor shortages and inventory and supply restrictions, but the marketing efforts for Discover Lehigh Valley showed no signs of slowing.”

Lehigh Valley has a diverse set of attractions, accommodations, and events to welcome people of all ages, Russo said. Beyond visiting friends and relatives, the main purpose of travel in 2020 to the Lehigh Valley was to experience the outdoors, which ranked #2 on the list for both overnight visitors and day-trippers.

Discover Lehigh Valley also discussed its advertising efforts, including targeted local Made Possible in Lehigh Valley billboards with Adams Outdoor, and the use of social media channels to anchor happenings and inspirational trip ideas for the Mid-Atlantic market.

The organization’s public relations efforts with Vault Communications scored 796 wins for the Lehigh Valley year-round. Targeting editorial calendars with specific pitches, Lehigh Valley landed in national and regional headlines totaling an advertising value of $1.2 million, while reaching 1.3 billion readers, Russo said.

Discover Lehigh Valley a 5-day promotion on Facebook with a $50 budget that earned 246,244 impressions. Additionally, the spring season launched a 16-week campaign to drive day and overnight visitation, Discover Lehigh Valley’s largest effort since COVID-19 began.

The event also included a keynote speech by Adam Sacks, President of Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics company dedicated to analytically-based consulting to the tourism sector.

LVEDC President & CEO Don Cunningham serves on the Board of Directors for Discover Lehigh Valley.

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