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.”
– Tom Upshaw, 2012 Board Chairman
Transparency 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 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.
Revenue Generation 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. Nearly 40 percent of budget is generated by special events, such as Taste of the Season, and marketing opportunities provided to businesses. Visitor-paid accommodation taxes are responsible for 33 percent. State funding contributes 14 percent and 13 percent is generated through membership investment.
Nationwide, chambers are seeking innovative ways to drive non-dues revenue, such as hosting travel opportunities. In 2008, your chamber offered a trip to China and over 150 community members participated. A trip to Italy is now being offered. Your chamber, in partnership with a local travel agency, will receive a modest marketing fee for each trip booked, thus providing a community service and producing income for chamber programs and initiatives.
Operations 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.
388 new members joined the chamber in 2011, strengthening the power and voice of the business community
Our 91 percent membership retention rate beats the national average of 83 percent, ranking us among the best in the nation according to ACCE.
A continued strengthening of our tourism-based economy showed positive gains in the combined hotel and home and villa segment. While overall occupancy showed a modest 1 percent gain, average room rate was up 7.2 percent and the strong benchmark of Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR) up a healthy 9 percent. Recognizing that tourism is the engine of overall economic growth impacting many businesses in the Lowcountry, the chamber will continue to make the health of our tourism industry a top priority.
An expansive website, www.thinkhiltonheadisland.org, was launched by the chamber. This easy-to-navigate site contains valuable information such as census figures, tourism statistics, area demographics as well as the chamber’s independent financial audits and marketing plans.
The chamber’s website www.hiltonheadisland.org saw over one million visitors in 2011. The website continues to drive revenue to the business community. In July alone, the website garnered over 113,501 referrals for business in the Lowcountry. Many of our members tell us the website is invaluable for driving traffic and revenue to their business.
The State of the Region breakfast and popular Taste of the Season event broke attendance records. Hosting such events is essential to underwrite chamber programs and initiatives. Since many of you identified “networking” and “exposure for my business” as a key reason for your membership, the chamber hosted over 50 events designed to engage and connect the business community.
The chamber was the catalyst in a 24-page editorial feature in US Airways magazine, highlighting Hilton Head Island as an arts and cultural destination. Reaching over 5 million potential visitors, we will once again proudly feature our area this April.
Project Connect, the chamber program linking business with schools, supplied classrooms with essential supplies. Since its inception, Project Connect has granted over 700 wishes and donated $47,000 worth of materials for area classrooms, investing in future business leaders.
We are proud of our membership track-record of financial stewardship. We’re 36 percent below the average operations budget compared to other organizations our size. Additionally, we spend 37 percent more of our budget dollars directly on advertising than other destinations our size. We are proud that our operating expenditures continue to be lower than the national average for similar organizations.
Out of the thousands of chambers across the country, we continue to receive the US Chamber Four-Star Accreditation, an honor shared with only 81 chambers nationwide. In addition, your chamber is one of only 135 accredited by the Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI). This is noteworthy, since both organizations have stringent guidelines and rigorous criteria that examine numerous aspects of organizational operations and include industry-wide comparisons.
The destination television commercial, produced in conjunction with the Town of Hilton Head Island and which aired during the 2011 Heritage Golf Tournament, was honored with the coveted Hospitality and Sales Marketing Association International (HSMAI) Gold Adrian Award. It was one of only two commercials to receive this accolade in the broadcast advertising category.
More importantly, the chamber saw a 47 percent increase in the number of visitors to its website during the tournament over the same time in 2010.
2012 Annual Report The chamber presented its 2012 Annual Report at the Annual Meeting on December 14, 2012.Click here to read.