Promoting Ely in many ways

Tourism bureau adopts to the times with diverse marketing efforts

by Tom Coombe
Via both conventional and unconventional means, the Ely Area Tourism Bureau has a simple purpose: promoting the Ely area as a destination.
Through television and marketing, social media and a revamped website, blogs and video-logs, the entity funded by the area’s lodging tax is both modernizing and elevating its work.
Cindy Smyka, who heads the Tourism Bureau, offered a glimpse into the entity’s work during a presentation to the Tuesday Group earlier this month.
“We all work regularly to create what you unfortunately don’t get to see all that often,” said Smyka. “Marketing to you would be preaching to the choir. You’re already here. You’re in agreement that Ely is an amazing place.”
Smyka described a diversified approach, which has included more social media presence and a website ( that has been revised and includes tools that allow the bureau to track interest in the area.
“Data is the only way to know that you are marketing successfully,” she said. “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”
But now the bureau is able to measure what gets “hit” on the website and capture demographic and search for information as well.
“The tools,” Smyka said “show the demographics of people looking for Ely and how they’re coming to our site and what they’re looking for when they’re there.”
“We do consider reserving lodging to be the first step,” she added. “Once they’ve made that commitment to come here, then everything else comes after that. They’re going to go out to eat. They’re going to be entertained. They’re going to get outside and recreate. That’s why they’re coming here.”
The bureau has reached out to visitors, asking them to share “how far does it take you to get to Ely?”
“There have been hundreds of comments, people describing their favorite route or where they must stop,” said Smyka. “We’re seeing the depths people will go to to visit the Ely area.”
The website has ample room for content to add blogs and podcasts and further information, all designed to promote Ely “to people who aren’t in the Ely area to be part of the Ely area for a short duration, or relocation and beyond.”
While resorts and other lodging establishments continue to attract people to the region, the bureau is taking steps to incorporate what has fast become a popular lodging option - vacation rental properties marketed through means such as Vrbo or Airbnb.
The bureau is working with vacation rental owners to become accredited and ensure short term rentals have appropriate licenses and insurance, assess the lodging tax and meet minimum standards related to parking and trash disposal.
In turn, those entities would be marketed on the website.
“The best way to get everybody on board is to offer something they want,” said Smyka.
The bureau’s efforts to promote Ely took off with the development of a new logo, in a process supported by the city of Ely and the Ely Chamber of Commerce.
“What it means is it’s the very first time that the Chamber and the city and the tourism bureau united under something,” said Smyka.
Smyka heads a team that is promoting the region and partnering with other entities, including those who promote local events or those advancing efforts to bring more visitors to the area - such as the Prospector ATV Alliance.
The bureau is developing an extensive photo library, encompassing dozens of events and activities, that can be used for promotion and advertising.
Smyka acknowledged that the area already has numerous events and that the bureau understands that “there are passionate people excited about whatever it may be, and we want to showcase and garner interest in events that are already taking place.”