Richland County travel bureau promoting non-traditional housing


Staff report



MANSFIELD — The award-winning economic development organization Destination Mansfield-Richland County, is expanding their marketing efforts to include non-traditional forms of lodging to meet changes in demand from the traveling public.

“Travelers do not all stay in hotels — some choose homes, rooms, guesthouses, and inns through sites such as AirBnB, VRBO, hometogo, and Stinngo,” according to Lee Tasseff, president of Destination Mansfield-Richland County. “It was time we opened up our lodging offerings to keep pace with this growing trend in the industry. Part of what we as a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) is to welcome all who travel here and accommodate them as best as we can. No matter what preference a guest has in staying overnight, the more inclusive we can be the better.”

In anticipation of this expansion, Destination Mansfield-Richland County worked with the Richland County Auditor’s staff to update the code of regulations for lodging tax for Richland County. As a result, the minimum number of rooms to qualify for collecting bed tax will be lowered from five rooms to one room. The definition of an “operator” has also been updated to cover any room, house, or guesthouse being rented. These changes will go into effect March 1, 2019.

Richland County is not the first to implement this sort of reform. Other counties such as Hocking Hills, Holmes, Erie, and Ottawa, to name a few, have previously reduced the threshold for collecting bed tax to one room. Destination Mansfield-Richland County has identified over three dozen properties so far and offered them, and any others they may find, free membership for one year. “We want to make the process of joining as easy as possible, so they can tap into the benefits of what our Bureau can do,” added Tasseff. “We have invested in our website and will invest in our future Visitors Guides to give these new lodging properties added exposure.”

To share non-traditional lodging options with potential visitors:

  • DestinationMansfield.com will feature an expanded Lodging Section to include all lodging.
  • The website also offers a simple-to-use booking engine to help travelers “book a room”. Investments in this system will create a tab that links to AirBnB to make booking seamless and give more exposure to AirBnB members.
  • The booking engine is also available on the popular ShawshankTrail.com
  • The 2020 Visitor Guide will include an expanded lodging section.

Operators will be sent an initial packet to inform them of these changes and how it affects them. These packets will contain tax forms, code of regulations, Destination Mansfield Membership benefits and all promotional brochures

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Staff report