TDA Receives Support Requests and Marketing Report



Dan Finnerty – Contributing Writer

The Franklin Tourism Development Authority (TDA) held its monthly meeting March 13 where two new requests for support were presented. The TDA also received and approved an audit contract and financial report. A marketing overview for the year was also delivered.

Town Manager and TDA member Amie Owens delivered the latest financial report that covers month-to-month figures covering the past 12 years. Through January 2023, there have been six consecutive months of “highest on record” totals for occupancy tax collections, with the overall total after seven months being $119,110.91. With the budget tabulated at $265,000 for this fiscal year (FY), Owens reported expenditures at $123,387.65 with encumbrances coming in at $121,067.35. Encumbrances reflect outstanding commitments taken on by an organization. In the TDA’s case, it represents contracts with LOCALiQ, a marketing platform. As of the report, the existing fund balance is $155,596.12. The financial report was approved unanimously.

As a component of the Town of Franklin, the TDA is audited annually and as such, requires an approved contract. The Town Council approved a contract with Martin Starnes and Associates at its March 6 meeting, which the TDA similarly approved. The cost of the annual audit increased to $3,200 this year, up $200 from 2022.

The Taste of Scotland Society submitted an application of support for their 25th annual event scheduled for June 16-18. The festival draws local, regional, and Western North Carolina visitors to Franklin. This year’s request increased from $2,000 to $3,000 and was only provided for TDA consideration at this month’s meeting. It will be reviewed for approval in April. Total event cost was $23,000 last year when it was held at the Macon County Fairgrounds for the first time. Presenter James Gordon explained that doing so provided a more limited access, ticketed event and allowed for a more accurate account of success in terms of total visitors. He also advised, “The Cherokee will be with us on Saturday (June 17) during the festival and we are also trying to get them to have some kind of presence with us on Friday evening as well. Our goal is to get more community involvement to make our festival a more inclusive event.” A fiddling contest will also be added to events this year.

The other support request was from TribalVibe Promotions and Altered Frequencies for $1,000. A new event, Springtopia-Feeding the Future, will be held April 22, running from 12 noon until midnight. According to the application, the goal is to receive canned goods donations through reduced ticket prices: $5 off the full ticket price of $25. Goods received will then be distributed throughout small pantries in Franklin. Seven bands have committed to performing and event promoters are currently negotiating arrangements for food trucks and a bounce house. Presenter Mary Guerico also hopes to hold a follow-on similar event if the April event goes well.

The year-in-review marketing report was delivered by Carly Moser of Drake Enterprises and served as a fiscal year 2022/2023 recap of LOCALiQ advertising. The report window covered September-May and included a recommendation of $222,415 for various advertising options. LOCALiQ-collected analytics provided input to the report that, in addition to its various statistics, reiterated Owens’ assertion that Franklin continues to break records with occupancy tax collection, making the town a tourism destination that people want to visit. For “cross media optimization,” the report showed that for designated market areas, 10% of people viewing ads on Discover Franklin (, when searching for “North Carolina family vacation,” are accessing the website. Similarly, 9.3% of those who see the ad when conducting internet searches for “weekend getaways North Carolina” are also going to the website.

Moser pointed out that while TikTok ads have actually been among the more productive advertising options, a gradual withdrawal of usage is underway due to increasingly negative connotations associated with the video-sharing application. She also emphasized the continually increasing effectiveness of YouTube (YT) exposure, especially via television access. The average view rate for YT is 27.7%, with actual Discover Franklin ads on YT receiving a 53.35% view rate average. Not surprisingly, the regions most frequently interested in visiting Franklin include (in declining order), Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida. The major metropolitan locales most often cited are Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville.

The next scheduled TDA meeting is Monday, April 10, at 5:30 p.m.