It’s a social media campaign, now in its fifth year, but as much as anything it’s a digital Valentine to Huntsville.
The annual #iHeartHsv campaign starts Feb. 1 and runs through Feb. 14. As Judy Ryals, President/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) said, “We love Huntsville year-‘round. But we want to make sure to show some extra love this time of year.”
There’s even a little extra bit of love coming this year. Samantha Brown, a popular TV travel host, dedicates her weekly “Places To Love” series to Huntsville this week. (Sunday, 2 p.m., Alabama Public Television.)
The CVB promotes tourism in Huntsville for groups, individuals and conventions, with more than a $1 billion economic impact annually for the area’s economy.
We love Huntsville year-‘round. But we want to make sure to show some extra love this time of year.”
Each day of this promotion, the CVB will post a theme or prompt on the CVB’s social media platforms. Users are encouraged to respond by posting Huntsville-centric photos paired with the #iHeartHsv hashtag. Prizes will be awarded each day.
The themes might include a favorite attraction, outdoor activity or destination.
In doing that, the CVB loops in a number of its partners to promote the event – and with great exposure benefits.
Ahead of the social media curve
The CVB has been “ahead of the curve” in social media outreach to promote the city’s assets, said Kacey Swindell, director of operations at Element Huntsville. “I don’t know how many cities have tweet chats and do city-wide campaigning for all parts of the industry and locals. It’s overwhelming support for our industry.”
Quite simply, said Jessica Smith Bolling, event director at A.M. Booth’s Lumberyard, “It’s just neat that somebody cares.
“Kristen (Pepper, Marketing Manager for the CVB), has been doing a great job,” Bolling continued. “I enjoy seeing all of Huntsville coming together and the CVB is leading the way. It’s cool.
“We’ve worked really hard to grow the city and create lots of community involvement, to make things more enjoyable for the community, so we’re always behind it anytime somebody wants to put a spotlight on Huntsville,” Bolling said.
Swindell manages six different social media challenges for the two hotels at Bridge Street, The Element and its sister hotel, The Westin.
“We’ve been supporting the campaign for the city and tying it in with our brand and enjoying the traffic it drives,” she said.
She is connected to frequent or incoming guests at the hotels, and the outreach through #iHeartHsv has paid dividends. An annual Valentine’s Day promotion had nearly as many bookings simply through the campaign as it did through year-‘round traditional promotional methods.
#iHeartHsv pocket guide. The free visitor’s guide will be printed after the campaign and include the photos from the 14 daily winners.
#iHeartHsv T-shirt collection. Local designer Jonathan Fowler of Fow Wow Designs has created four unique shirts for sale at the Visitor Center.
Facebook Live With City Council Members. On Feb. 5 at 2 pm., the CVB will host a Facebook Live in which Huntsville City Council Members will discuss their various districts, particularly as it relates to hospitality and tourism.
#iHeartHsv tweet chat. The campaign is launched at 8 p.m. on Feb. 1 with a tweet chat to which all who ‘heart’ Huntsville are invited.
Instagram Takeover. Downtown Huntsville Inc. will take over the CVB Instagram account on Tuesday, Feb. 6 to highlight fun offerings in the downtown core.