Straight talk: Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau markets Manistee County

(Abigale Racine/News Advocate) Kathyrn Kenny, executive director at the Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau, takes her partnership with Pure Michigan seriously, stating that Manistee is, “Home.”

MANISTEE – Kathyrn Kenny has been the executive director of the Manistee County Visitor’s Bureau since June 2011.

She is a Manistee native and she has been a resident most of her life, and Kenny has raised two daughters in Manistee.

On Friday, the Visitors Bureau updated the county’s welcome signs and premiered a series of four new signs that incorporate a Pure Michigan theme, an update that hasn’t been made in almost 20 years. The four locations of the signs are U.S. 31 at Manistee National Golf & Resort, M-55 in Wellston, M-22 in Arcadia and U.S. 31 in Bear Lake.

Kenny recently sat down with the Manistee News Advocate to discuss the Visitor Bureau’s role in the community.

MNA: What exactly does the Visitor’s Bureau do?

KENNY: The mission of the Visitor’s Bureau is to market Manistee County outside of the area and invite people to come in and visit, spend time here and enjoy our natural resources. We are a very diverse community with three rivers, three harbors, Lake Michigan, our inland lakes, lots of trails as well as a diverse economy.

MNA: How does is the Visitor’s Bureau funded?

KENNY: We are funded by a room assessment that is collected by the hotels and the property management companies in Manistee County, so our district is the county line. One-hundred percent of the room assessment comes back to the Visitor’s Bureau and we use those funds to market Manistee.

MNA: So, how has the bureau has united with Pure Michigan and really embraced that campaign?

KENNY: The past two years, our focus has been to form a partnership with Pure Michigan, and now we have a full-fledged partnership. Pure Michigan created a logo for us, the Manistee Pure Michigan logo is our county logo, and we have our summer commercial running right now in Cincinnati (Ohio) and Toledo (Ohio). We will have a new commercial in the fall. Both are radio commercials, and the new commercial will have a fall/winter theme while the one running now has a summer theme.

MNA: Why did you decide that a partnership with Pure Michigan was a good route to take?

KENNY: It is one of the most successful tourist campaigns ever, and it makes sense to model our marketing plan after the state’s marketing plan and to partner with them. It’s been wildly successful. Last June we had 4,890 hits on our website, and this June we had 11,496 hits. Of those people, 9,496 were new visitors, and they looked at 40,500 pages of information on Manistee County. That is what the partnership with Pure Michigan does, they are the largest referral to our website. We really developed a strong focus in our marketing for Mansitee County. Marketing the website and everything about Manistee that a tourist would look for is there – where to eat, where to find a trail, where to put their boat in the water. It’s working, and it’s exciting! It’s translating into more marketing dollars for Manistee County so we can continue to grow our Pure Michigan partnership.

MNA: What is the significance behind the new signs?

KENNY: In developing our Pure Michigan partnership, we have been preparing for a couple of years to have an image that would represent the best of the Mansitee County. The new signs represent our new image. I can’t even explain what it means to me, personally I am just thrilled that we are going to have something that the whole community can be proud of. It’s very personal to me because Manistee is home.

MNA: In a way, the bureau is re-branding the county, have you received a positive response from those in the community?

KENNY: I don’t like to call it “branding,” because branding is a really hard word to work with. We are creating a contemporary image for our community that represents our four corners in the county.

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