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Hotel occupancy up 16 percent in 2018

Hotel occupancy was up 16 percent in 2018, Dickinson CVB reported. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Dickinson hospitality and tourism had a strong 2018.

Hotel occupancy was up 16 percent, with 49 percent of Dickinson's hotel's filled, according to the Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau 2018 annual report.

"It's starting to climb," Terri Thiel, CVB executive director, said.

The average daily rate for hotels declined, though, by 2.8 percent, to $73.26 per room.

"It's either been steady or down a little bit," Thiel said.

This affects the CVB's funding, which comes from the 2 percent occupancy tax.

"Even if we see a little bit of an increase in occupancy, we kind of stay flat for funding," Thiel said. "It is good to see a little bit of an increase, because these other past years it took a huge drop."

The greatest occupancy experienced in Dickinson was in 2011, Thiel said.

"It was just a totally different world," she said. "It just exploded around here with occupancy. We were trying to get people into Belfield and other places."

Online visitors to the CVB's website increased 10 percent, to 62,837 visitors total.

Digital sources and markets have been important in creating awareness of Dickinson and its features, Thiel said.

In 2018, CVB took advantage of the Google My Business program, creating a knowledge panel that boats 361 photos, which received 719,000 views over one year.

"We were never involved on the digital, online part of it to the extent we are now," she said, "and this year's going to be even heavier in really tracking it."

The ND Travel Alliance Partnership and ND Tourism Division created Facebook stories in 2018, called ND Travel Matters, to inspire travel to North Dakota.

The CVB created 14 videos and had six video posts in September about Dickinson.

"We did a whole group of these things," Thiel said. "We did them for things over at the parks, for different business owners... What we tried to do was explain that travel touches so many different people and businesses."

Those posts reached 10,315 people and had 15,966 impressions.

CVB also provides informational packets to businesses and agencies for use in recruiting.

"It really does help," Thiel said. "If they're another place and have no sense of our city, they can take that and it gives them an idea of our different things."

She added, "We did about 20 packets just for one company about a month ago."

The visitor is key to Dickinson's growth, Thiel said.

"Even if you're going to come here for a job, your first impressions are as a visitor for what's here," she said. "Your job is your job, but what are you going to do otherwise?"

While the CVB plans to continue some of these efforts, it will pursue new ones, as well.

"We always try to find something else that might be a different marketing method," Thiel said, "or other way to reach people."