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Brookfield likely to renew contract to attract visitors

Dec. 4, 2013

For almost half the year in Brookfield, there are more people staying in hotel rooms than there are living in the city, with more than 2,000 rooms available, said Nancy Justman, president of Visit Brookfield. Justman hopes to keep that number climbing through her organization's work raising awareness about the city.

Funded through taxes hotels pay per room, Visit Brookfield has been promoting travel to Brookfield for more than 20 years, though it was previously called the Convention and Visitors Bureau. The city plans to renew its contract with Visit Brookfield for the longest term yet, of four years, though the contract was tabled at Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting.

"This recent contract is a pretty major accomplishment because it's the longest contract we've had with the city and we're excited about the potential to get more dollars for continuing marketing," Justman said.

Under the new contract, Visit Brookfield would have the chance to take in a greater share of the room tax. Currently, Visit Brookfield gets 17 percent of room tax revenue, with 75 percent going to the city's general budget and 8 percent going to economic development efforts. A new "incentive" provision allows Visit Brookfield to take 66 percent of room tax revenue in any year that the amount exceeds projections in the city budget.

Moving forward, Justman said she plans to continue expanding Visit Brookfield's online platform. The website already gets more than 150,000 visitors per year, she said, and includes lists of hotels, businesses, events and attractions.

"With the Internet and the way traveling has changed, I think we've been very successful," Justman said. "Probably 80 percent of all people do some research before they travel, so it's important that our website ranks high and has the information people look for."

Visit Brookfield also mails out about 25,000 visitors guides annually to people around the country who have requested them.

Some of the biggest draws for hotel patrons are business conferences and conventions. Visit Brookfield, currently with three employees, is responsible for putting together proposals for companies that request them from the city. It reaches out to area hotels to put together a proposal that matches the needs of the company for the best price, and if it wins, brings hundreds of visitors to the city.

There are also many visitors who come on leisure, Justman said.

"We're a unique urban suburban location, minutes from Milwaukee," Justman said. "There's the reduction of cost for the hotel room, free parking, the ease of a major interstate right here, proximity to the airport, and the fact that we have 150 restaurants and 250 shopping opportunities."

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