Gone to Texas
Over the past ten years or so, it is estimated that the population of Texas has grown by almost 4 million people. Much of this growth can be attributed to changes in attitude around state-level politics around the country, cost of living, job opportunities, and quality of life. Hundreds of thousands of those new Texans every year come from places like California, Florida, and Colorado. As a result, many communities have experienced population growth, increased economic impact, and the new challenges created by a tightening housing market, city sprawl, and increased density. While that has been the case for many of the major cities of Texas like Austin, Houston, and Fort Worth, 104 counties in Texas lost population between 2010 and 2019. Many small towns have looked for new ways to attract these new Texans to move away from the city and experience a different lifestyle, with affordable land, unique business offerings, and a slower pace of life. Additionally, over time, the curiosity about all of the things that small Texas towns have to offer has created a big opportunity for small towns that know how to reach a diverse, and ever-changing audience. In the past two years, the consideration of a more rural lifestyle has been thrown into overdrive with the expansion of broadband internet connectivity and changing attitudes about remote work, living in the city, and cost of living. Many small towns find themselves at the center of an interesting proposition for all Texans: affordable land, high-speed internet, and simpler living.
The Opportunity For Small Towns
Found Texas has been at the center of these efforts, working with small Texas communities (populations of 1,500 to 20,000) to take advantage of the changing attitudes about working remotely and living in rural communities, as well as the constantly evolving landscape in digital marketing. Found offers marketing solutions focused on reaching digital audiences through video content, high-quality photography, social media, influencer marketing, and blog content. With so many small towns in Texas, it is critical for smaller communities to stay top of mind and create an interest for those looking to learn more about what Texas has to offer. Found works with communities like Brownwood, Goldthwaite, and San Saba to amplify their digital presence and expose new audiences to the best each community has to offer, whether that is for the purposes of tourism, relocation, or economic development.
In most cases, Found works with communities to utilize Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds collected from local hotels, motels, and bed & breakfasts. These funds can only be used in specific ways outlined in nine statutory categories to help promote tourism and economic development. Found has become adept at understanding these categories, and using the funds in ways that are always in compliance with the statutes. The HOT funds serve as a reinvestment vehicle for the community. This means the goals of the funds are tied to things like increased hotel occupancy, increased sales tax revenue, and increases in event attendance. Found works collaboratively with communities to develop strategies that have over time, proven successful at achieving these goals.
The Dofflemyer Hotel
In 2015, The Dofflemyer Hotel opened in San Saba, Texas. It is a boutique hotel with only seven rooms, and has a big city feel, but is grounded in its small-town roots, with photos of local families adorning the lobby walls, along with complimentary pecans on the guest pillows. When The Dofflemyer Hotel reached out to Found, their hotel occupancy was at 30%, which was below the threshold for being profitable. Within six months, Found helped push the occupancy over 72%, reaching well beyond the point of profitability. Through an introductory video, ongoing social media promotion, and influencer visits, The Dofflemyer Hotel has become a destination hotel that people associate with a high-quality experience. The hotel’s success has also helped drive increased visibility for the community of San Saba.
San Saba, Texas
Found partnered with the Economic Development Corporation in San Saba in 2015, to begin a process of building a brand identity for the community, and increasing foot traffic to the historic downtown. Additionally, the annual wine tasting and shopping event known as the Sip N’ Stroll was also of particular emphasis with a goal of increasing attendance and overall revenue on behalf of the San Saba Area Chamber of Commerce. Over the past six years, Found has kept San Saba visible across social media, developing dozens of videos, taking thousands of photos, and writing dozens of blogs that have helped stoke the curiosity of Texas travelers, whether they are in RVs, on motorcycles, wine enthusiasts, antiquers, or empty-nesters, Found has kept new people coming to the city, and the numbers prove it. Sales tax revenue for the city increased 24 % since Found began marketing the city and is on track to set an all-time sales tax revenue record for 2021, and the Annual Sip N’ Stroll experienced a 1343% increase in revenue and a 371% increase in attendance over the course of the partnership. Local businesses like Harry’s Boots, Alamo Pecan & Coffee, Wedding Oak Winery, and others have experienced their biggest sales days ever in 2021, and new businesses are filling once-vacant downtown buildings.
In 2018, the city of Brownwood and the Brownwood Municipal Development District (BMDD) partnered with Found to enhance the existing Visit Brownwood campaign and support the initiatives of the BMDD to revitalize downtown. Brownwood was a booming city in the 1950s, but for many years its population had been on the decline and the downtown had lost its vibrancy. However, a new vision was taking shape and Found was able to quickly help raise the awareness and profile of business opportunities through drone footage, vacant building maps, and targeted ads that helped support the economic packages being offered by the BMDD. Over the course of three years, Brownwood saw the launch of no less than 10 new downtown businesses in just two years. After years of stagnancy, the community became reinvested in downtown and a sense of community and pride was restored through the Feels Like Home campaign. The Visit Brownwood social media outlets saw follower increases of 756% on Facebook and 563% on Instagram, helping galvanize the community and reach new audiences. Sales tax revenue also climbed 29.5% after a few years of decline before working with Found. Today, Brownwood sees a bright future with a new events center on the way, as well as plans for expansion of their Christmas lights displays, and the renovation of a 1930’s era 12 story hotel that has been vacant since 1986.
How Found Can Help Your Community
If your community would like to see results like these, reach out to us at foundtx.com and let’s see if we can put your HOT funds to work for you, or if you have allocated marketing funds we can also work with you to develop a strategy that will increase your visibility through social media, video outlets, high-profile visits, and event promotion. We look for communities with a long-term vision focused on increasing tourism activity, improving economic impact, increasing population, or reinvigorating an existing population. Even if you just want to get started with a small project, or if you want Found to run an entire campaign for you, we are looking for new communities to partner with and help achieve your tourism and economic development goals.