No ‘Get up and go’ for Rockford?

No ‘Get up and go’ for Rockford?

By Jeff Havens, Staff Writer

For the second year in a row, many Rockford readers unhappily noticed that Rockford was largely excluded from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Community Affairs, Bureau of Tourism’s Your Illinois Get-Up-And-Go Guide, inserted in last week’s daily paper.They called this paper and asked, “Why?” So we looked into the matter.

The Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau defended not placing an advertisement in the state-sponsored promotional guide. The bureau wants to focus its limited funds on regions that have a “proven track record of travel to the Rockford area,” said John Grough, executive projects director for the bureau.

Later this month, the bureau will spend $45,000 on 300,000, 12-page, 10-inch by 12-inch newspaper inserts that will reach at least four Illinois cities, Grough said.

Late last month, nearly 1.7 million Bureau of Tourism guides were distributed in 15 different newspapers in Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin. A full-page 10-inch by 11-inch ad in the guide with brochure cost $28,000, according to Rob Phillips, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The bureau will spend $45,000 for its 300,000, 12-page inserts that will be issued in four Illinois newspapers.

Grough said the Rockford bureau decided not to place an ad in the 24-page guide because of limited funds that must be strategically spent.

The only mention of the Rockford area in the guide was a 1-inch picture of a travel brochure, which readers could order on the Web or by mail. That brochure ad cost the bureau $2,725.

Peoria, Elgin, Geneva, Galena, Quad Cities, Quincy, St. Louis-area towns, Chicago and many of Chicago’s suburbs all placed ads in the guide. Grough said placing an ad in the guide was “not a good return on the investment.”

Phillips said the 1.7 million guides reached at least 12 cities in five states. The guides went to newspapers in Champaign, Rockford, Quad Cities, Peoria, Chicago and its suburbs, Cedar Rapids, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and St. Louis.

Grough said that by making its own inserts and placing them in Chicagoland’s Daily Herald, Quad Cities Times, Peoria Journal Star and Rockford Register Star, the bureau could better reach its target audience. Although Grough could not give demographic numbers as to the bureau’s target audience, he said suburban families that live within 60 miles are most sought.

Grough added that the bureau also promotes overnight stays and targets women in families, since women make many family travel decisions. The bureau’s insert is scheduled for publication May 30.

John Strandin, communications director for the City of Rockford, and Kris Cohn, chairman of the Winnebago County Board, both said with the bureau’s limited promotional funds, they felt the insert was an appropriate and effective use of taxpayers’ dollars. However, they also said that if the bureau had more dollars, placing an ad in the state guide would be a good idea.

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