With over 1,600 members, the chamber looks forward to continuing to serve our members and building upon the solid public/private partnerships we’ve developed for over 50 years. Our governing board, comprised of representatives of key area industries and professions including tourism professionals, works closely with the chamber to ensure we meet the needs put forth by our members and the regional business community.
Your chamber is committed to continuing to provide information about its mission, operations, revenue generation, plans and accomplishments in a completely transparent manner. This information, including financial audits for the past five years, is posted on our website, www.thinkhiltonheadisland.org.
This information is provided to state, town and county officials on an annual basis. Marketing plans are submitted for review, and results are reported annually. Details as to how accommodations tax dollars are spent is shared each year with our elected officials thus, further demonstrating our long-term track record of accountability.
Adhering to sound business principles, the chamber utilizes a variety of revenue sources to finance destination promotion, program development, operating costs, and value-added member benefits.
Because private sector partnerships are an integral funding source, advertising dollars generated through the website and other sources play a significant role. In FY 2014 nearly 37% percent of budget was generated by special events and marketing opportunities provided to businesses. Visitor-paid accommodation taxes were responsible for 33 percent. State funding contributes 20 percent and 10 percent is generated through membership investment.
By combining the chamber and visitor’s bureau, operational efficiency is high and costs are minimized. This organizational structure creates a streamlined approach, sharing a building, numerous staff members and infrastructure efficiencies. Such an arrangement also ensures services and programs are not duplicated. Instead, resources are targeted to support small business, tourism marketing and long-term business growth.
- Hosted the first Business Recovery Center in partnership with the Small Business Administration to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew get the assistance they need. More than $17 million in loans have been distributed.
- Helped recruit Air Canada jet service and additional routes from Allegiant Air to the Lowcountry in partnership with the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.
Hilton Head Island was recognized nationally on dozens of best-of lists, including being named the No. 1 Island in the Continental U.S. and No. 8 Island in the World on the Travel + Leisure Magazine World’s Best Awards, and the No. 3 Island in U.S. in the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards.
- Garnered effective national media coverage for the area. There were more than 1,700 stories and mentions about the Lowcountry, including coverage in USA Today, Forbes, Trip Advisor, Southern Living, Huffington Post, The Today Show, and more. Millions of reader and viewer impressions reflect an advertising value of more than $12.3 million.
- Received multiple awards including the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Grand Award in Electronic Communications for the Island Compass App; Carolinas Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (CACCE) Communication Award for the “I AM The Chamber” campaign.
- The Visitor & Convention Bureau received accolades for its group services: Gold Service Award from Meetings & Convention magazine; Reader’s Choice Award from ConventionSouth magazine; Platinum Choice Award Winner and 18th Pinnacle Award Winner for best CVB from Smart Meetings magazine.
- Introduced Social Media Marketing 101, one-on-one sessions with member businesses to help enhance their social media presence.
- Our website continues to be an economic driver for our partners. We saw a 37% conversion rate of link out referrals to area business partners. Total conversions are up 19 percent compared to last year.
- Visitors are coming and they are spending. We saw a 2.7 percent average daily rate increase and 4.9 percent RevPar increase compared to the previous year for hotels, homes and villas.
2016 Annual Report
The chamber presented its 2014 Annual Report at the Annual Meeting on December 9, 2016. Click here to view the 2016 Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Report.