Dynamic Variation:

GOAL 1  |  GOAL 2  |  GOAL 3  |  GOAL 4

 

Strategic Goal #1: Strengthen resident and visitor engagement

 

Strengthening relationships with residents will be critical to ongoing collaboration toward the vision of the Outer Banks. Residents repeatedly stated through town halls and surveys that they desire more meaningful engagement with the Visitors Bureau and this Long-Range Tourism Management Plan. This engagement must allow for all residents to participate, including underserved communities. Extending increased engagement to include visitors will also be of utmost importance, particularly to reframe expectations of visitor behavior in the Outer Banks. Even those whose livelihoods depended on visitors and visitor spending noted that it was essential to attract visitors who respected and appreciated what the Outer Banks already had and weren’t intent on changing it to be something different. Developing programs to educate visitors and attract those interested in contributing to the community will be important.

 

1a. Continue to connect visitors with area nonprofits to support and elevate their work.

OBVB Role: Lead
Other Organizations: Local non-profit organizations
Timeline: Immediate (2023 and Ongoing)

Success Metrics: Number of nonprofit partners, completion of an annual update meeting with each partner to discuss their goals and upcoming initiatives.

Considerations: When you meet annually, look for mutually beneficial ways to partner and advise each other. Be strategic about engaging with nonprofits that intersect with the work in this plan.

Desired Result: Improve diversity, equity and inclusion.

Progress:
March 2024
 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau hosted the OBX Community Services Collaborative quarterly meeting, consisting of leaders from local non-profit organizations, and continues to attend such meetings regularly.

November 2023 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau hosted its 9th Annual OBX Tourism Summit, with a “Tourism for Good” theme. In addition to providing NPOs with an opportunity to lead table discussions at lunch, a post-event social event followed at Swells’a Brewing to continue the discussion surrounding NPO collaborations and opportunities.

October 2023 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau launched its monthly Non-Profit/Community eNewsletter updates.
Feb 2024 | Jan 2024 | Dec 2023 | Nov 2023 | Oct 2023

September 2023 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Outer Banks Community Foundation hosted the inaugural NPO Knowledge Series event, a workshop that provided attendees with a variety of ideas for engaging new donors and cultivating existing relationships.

April 2023 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and Outer Banks Community Foundation hosted the inaugural Outer Banks Non-Profit Mission Mixer at the Outer Banks Brewing Station, a networking event for local NPO professionals. Non-profits professionals learned about the new NPO directory, as well as Dare County Tourism Board grant opportunities.

2023 and Ongoing – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau staff began leveraging strategic messaging surrounding inspirational, responsible and thoughtful visitation that better introduces and connects visitors to local non-profit organizations. Mediums included blog posts, social media campaigns and paid advertising efforts.

2023 – The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau, in collaboration with the Outer Banks Community Foundation, launched a non-profit directory on OuterBanks.org. In addition to including general profile information and direct links back to organization’s website, the opportunity also exists for local non-profits to include a volunteer link to connect visitors with additional ways to get involved.

1b. Lead a resident engagement program including resident advisory panels.
 

OBVB Role: Lead
Timeline: Immediate (2023 and Ongoing)

Success Metrics: Resident Satisfaction surveys with improved scores, self-evaluation done by the advisory panel memberships.

Considerations: Consider asking each board member and/or committee member to recommend a few candidates from their community to serve.

Desired Result: Ensure effective two-way communication between residents and industry that will result in positive benefits for all. Provide support for VFR and short-term rental markets for a better visitor experience.

Progress:
February 2024 –
 At the first Dare County Tourism Board Special Committee meeting, the resident engagement was discussed. Topics included examples of how the Outer Banks community was engaged in the creation of the LRTMP, the impact of transparent two-way communication with residents, the importance of communicating tourism’s value to residents, a review of existing/upcoming resident communications tactics, the creation of a more robust LRTMP website presence and exploring various community engagement tactics such as the creation of an Ambassador program.

2022 – As part of the creation of the Outer Banks Long-Range Tourism Management Plan (LRTMP), a resident sentiment survey was completed and submitted by 4,538 Dare County residents and non-resident property owners, providing a baseline to compare future sentiment surveys to.

1c. Lead investment in the development of a voluntourism strategy.
 

OBVB Role: Lead
Other Organizations: Local non-profit organizations who already have a volunteer program that could be adapted for visitors.
Timeline: 2024 and Ongoing

Success Metrics: Number or organizations participating in the program, volunteer hours generated by hospitality workforce and/or visitors.

Considerations: Consider using software to manage the volunteers in the program.

Desired Result: Attracting conscientious visitors.

Progress:
2023
 – In conjunction with the launch of a non-profit directory on OuterBanks.org, volunteer opportunities are now promoted on NPO profiles and event listings on the OuterBanks.org, with the goal of connecting visitors (and full-time/part-time residents) to the organizations that make the Outer Banks such a special place to live, work and visit.

2023 and Ongoing – Proactive voluntourism messaging launches from Outer Banks Visitors Bureau staff efforts, including leveraging blogs, social media and paid advertising.

1d. Convene a Special Committee/Task Force to support the Visitors Bureau in the ongoing implementation of this plan.

OBVB Role: Lead
Other Organizations: A diverse group touching many sectors and interests (like the LRTMP Task Force).
Timeline: Immediate (2023 and Ongoing)

Success Metrics: Annual report card showing success and progress, completion of a triennial review and update to the plan as things change.

Considerations: Although the board may wish to have this as a separate taskforce, make sure the taskforce meets at least annually with the board to get feedback and direction so the two do not become disjointed.

Desired Result: Broad community-led support for the long-term success of the plan.

Progress:
February 2024 – 
After a coastal storm forced the postponement of the January 10, 2024 meeting, the Dare County Tourism Board Special Committee held its first LRTMP meeting on February 7, 2024 at the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau administrative offices in Manteo. AgendaPDF File | PresentationPDF File | Video Recap

October 2023 – The creation of a Dare County Tourism Board Special Committee became a priority following the publishing of the Outer Banks Long-Range Tourism Management Plan (LRTMP) in May 2023 and the hiring of a Community Engagement Manager in August 2023. All Task Force Members who were involved in the creation of the plan were invited to serve on the new Special Committee, which 15 of the 19 original members agreed to do. In October 2023, residents and non-resident property owners were encouraged to apply for the remaining Committee seats and over 100 applications were submitted within 72 hours.

At its November meeting, the Dare County Tourism Board reviewed recommendations for appointment to the Outer Banks LRTMP Special Committee/Task Force and unanimously approved the selection of 22 community members to this group. The individuals in this group represent a mix of local leaders, professionals across industries and interests, and concerned residents. The intent of this committee is to evaluate the strategic goals outlined in the LRTMP, make recommendations to the Dare County Tourism Board for action and further implement adopted recommendations.

1e. Hire a Community Engagement Manager to champion implementation of this plan.
 

OBVB Role: Lead
Timeline: Immediate (2023 and Ongoing)

Success Metrics: Time to hire, creation of stretch-but-achievable goals, and effectiveness of the new hire to achieve these goals.

Considerations: This is a key position that you will want to get on board sooner rather than later.

Desired Result: Optimizing execution of the plan to ensure community awareness and participation.

Progress:
On August 28, 2024, Jeff Schwartzenberg was hired as Community Engagement Manager. Schwartzenberg is charged with helping put the strategies of the Long-Range Tourism Management Plan (LRTMP) into practice within the Outer Banks community, while also serving as a liaison between the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau and several community stakeholders, including municipalities, residents, property owners, businesses and non-profit organizations, among others.

1f. Develop a visitor pledge to communicate the important values of responsible behavior to visitors.

OBVB Role: Lead
Other Organizations: Industry partners
Timeline: 2024 and Ongoing

Success Metrics: The number of people who have engaged with the materials and messages, documenting the status of visitor behavior through a benchmark survey (sustainability committee?) with goals to improve compliance with the pledge in subsequent years.

Considerations: A marketing and communications plan will need to be developed.

Desired Result: Setting expectations with visitors (and locals) about what makes this place special and how an individuals’ behavior and mindset can make a difference.

Progress:
February 2024 –
 At the first Dare County Tourism Board Special Committee meeting, the group discussed the rationale behind why destinations have created tourism pledges in recent years, explored other tourism pledges from around the world and reviewed a preliminary draft of an Outer Banks Pledge. With feedback from the committee and Outer Banks Visitors Bureau staff, a revised Pledge draft is being worked on to share prior to the March 2024 LRTMP meeting.