Visit Savannah’s partnership with London-based VVV Global Marketing, which created the first international sales office for Visit Savannah is going quite smashing.
It’s been six months since Jo Piani, director of United Kingdom and Ireland for VVV took the helm of the UK Office and Visit Savannah president, Joe Marinelli said he couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
“She’s a spitfire and really doing a great job,” Marinelli said.
During the last six months Piani has presented about a dozen travel agent sales training programs around London and traveled to Ireland and Italy on behalf of Visit Savannah to attend travel trade shows.
“She’s covering a lot of ground, which we’re really pleased with.”
An informal numbers report from the visitor center locations including, Ellis Square, River Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard show that about 1,080 tourists from England, Ireland and Scotland have made a stop in Savannah this year and each of those markets are showing a year-to-date increase.
While Marinelli said the numbers aren’t scientific, they are a good indicator of the growth they’ve targeted over the last six months.
“Six months into a new experiment, you see the needle moving in the right direction and it’s a positive sign,” he said.
He said Piani has increased Savannah’s exposure and awareness through various advertising campaigns and media interviews, that otherwise wouldn’t be available to the organization.
In November, Piani spent a few days in the Hostess City, taking a ghost tour, attending Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and running the Rock ’n’ Roll half-marathon.
“I think the typical customer coming to the South has been to the states two or three times; so they’ve done New York, they’ve done Orlando and they’re looking for something that’s real America... It’s opened the South up to a whole new audience, and there’s a lot of excitement and interest about the area,” she said during her November trip.
The international office is under a one-year agreement, but Marinelli said he’s optimistic that the venture will continue in the future.
“Six months in (Piani) has demonstrated that she’s fulfilling the items we outlined in the agreement and more... So we’re optimistic that we’ll do it for the future,” he said.
In the coming years, he said he’d like to see international offices in Germany, China, Brazil and an Australian location.
“Those are big feeders for Atlanta and Georgia, too,” he said.
“I don’t see it happening this year or next, but that’s what we’d like to see.”
BY THE NUMBERS
Top countries for international travel to Savannah
2. United Kingdom
Source: Visit Savannah