Special Alert

Destination Marketing Program

Destination Marketing: Educating the Potential Visitor

Destination Marketing Organizations must educate potential visitors on reasons to visit their destinations. For the Columbia region, many are unaware of the area's attributes for visitors. With diverse target audiences - including those interested in family activities, historic sites, outdoor adventure, romantic getaways, culinary experiences, arts, culture and more - Experience Columbia SC must advertise and market in order to tout our region's attributes. A special budget has been put into place to increase general awareness of Columbia as a destination.

The Destination Specific Grant Program: A Statewide Partnership

The Destination Specific Grant Program, put into place by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism, offers the state's top tourist destinations, able to raise $500,000 or more of private funds, special funding to further the destination's marketing efforts. For each private dollar raised, the state will match 50 cents to be used to market the destination and its assets.

Destinations such as Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head raise millions of private dollars each year, and therefore, obtain substantial marketing funds. The Columbia area has been able to raise approximately $600,000 annually over the past four years. Our goal is to increase awareness of this program within our local hotel community, thus increasing the total match amount available. With this program in place, each $1.00 raised enables Experience Columbia SC to leverage $1.50 on marketing aimed to bring new visitors to the Columbia region.

How Can My Property Participate?

To participate, a Destination Marketing Fee of 2% per night, plus South Carolina state sales tax (7% in Lexington County and 8% in Richland County) would be added to all guest folios. At the point of check-out, the guest has the opportunity to pay the fee and applicable associated tax, or opt out upon request. No money comes out of the hotel budget.

Preferred Partner Benefits

Enhanced Visibility + Free and Discounted Advertising + Additional Preferred Partner Benefits

Hotel partners who participate in the Destination Marketing Program become "Preferred Partners" and receive exclusive benefits beyond the standard partnership services.

Enhanced Visibility (Exclusive to Preferred Partners)
  • Free priority listing, highlighted as Preferred Hotel and ranking above non-Preferred Hotel listings on experiencecolumbiasc.com and mobile site
  • Free Preferred Hotel listing, highlighted and enhanced, in the Columbia Official Visitors Guide
  • Free rack space to distribute hotel brochures at the Columbia SC Visitors Center
  • Free online advertising on experiencecolumbiasc.com, including 120x90 hotel banner ad and custom "Spotlight" text ad 
  • Complimentary inclusion in convention print advertisements: property name, photo and phone number
  • Discounted advertising rates in Columbia Official Visitors Guide
  • Discounted cooperative advertising rates
  • Priority notification on participation in marketing projects, special programs and cooperative advertising
Additional Benefits
  • Complimentary email list of opt-ins collected from annual Southern Living leisure advertising campaign. New benefit in 2013
  • Property listing as Preferred Hotel in each meeting/convention proposal or guide produced by sales team (Approx. 200 annually) New benefit beginning mid-2013 
  • Presence or promotional item distribution at applicable tradeshows
  • Discounted Hospitality Hotspotters registration ($10.00 off) for participating staff members to each training session

Showcase Your Business through the Destination Marketing Program

If you're looking for ways to help your business stand out in the minds of visitors and meeting planners, contact our partnership services manager, Judie VanPatten, at 803.545.0021 or jvanpatten@experiencecolumbiasc.com to become a Destination Marketing partner.

Map View

Aloft Columbia Downtown

  • 823 Lady Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-445-1900
  • Fax: 803-939-2140
  • Visit Website
Stay & play in style at Aloft Columbia Downtown in the heart of the Vista. With more than 100 dining and entertainment choices in Columbia’s historic downtown, the Vista’s eclectic vibe and ... More »

Fairfield Inn by Marriott - Columbia Northwest/Harbison

  • 320 Columbiana Drive
  • Columbia, SC 29212
  • Phone: 803-732-4436
  • Fax: (803) 217-6205
  • Tollfree: 800-228-2800
  • Visit Website
Our Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbia Northwest/Harbison hotel is located right off of I-20 and I-26 highways and within walking distance to Columbiana Mall. Other nearby things to do consist of ... More »

Columbia DoubleTree by Hilton

  • 2100 Bush River Road
  • Columbia, SC 29210
  • Phone: 803-731-0300
  • Fax: (803) 731-2839
  • Visit Website
Guests at our Columbia, SC hotel enjoy a wealth of amenities, including complimentary transportation to Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE), a fitness center, an outdoor swimming pool, wired and ... More »

Columbia Marriott Hotel

  • 1200 Hampton Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-771-7000
  • Fax: (803) 254-2911
  • Tollfree: 800-593-6465
  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Visit Website

Courtyard by Marriott Columbia Downtown at USC

  • 630 Assembly Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-799-7800
  • Fax: 803-252-5909
  • Tollfree: 888-979-6800
  • Hours: Open for Breakfast and Dinner
  • Visit Website
Location is everything! Staying at the Courtyard Columbia Downtown at USC you are walking distance to the Historic Vista District robust with history, shopping and night life.  Our hotel is 5 ... More »

Fairfield Inn & Suites Marriott Columbia Northeast

  • 120 Blarney Drive
  • Columbia, SC 29223
  • Phone: 803-760-1700
  • Fax: (803) 760-1701
  • Visit Website

Inn at USC Wyndham Garden Columbia

  • 1619 Pendleton Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-779-7779
  • Fax: (803) 779-2197
  • Visit Website
Welcome to the Inn at USC. This elegant boutique hotel, located on the historic campus of the University of South Carolina in the heart of downtown Columbia, boasts 116 luxurious guestrooms and ... More »

SpringHill Suites by Marriott-Columbia Downtown/The Vista

  • 511 Lady Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-978-2333
  • Fax: (803) 978-2334
  • Tollfree: 800-627-7468
  • Visit Website
Located in the heart of the Vista area and Downtown Columbia. Our hotel has more than 3000 square feet of meeting space as well as a full-service bar. We are perfect for business/leisure ... More »

Wingate by Wyndham - Lexington/Columbia

  • 108 Saluda Point Court
  • Lexington, SC 29072
  • Phone: 803-957-5000
  • Fax: (803) 957-2480
  • Visit Website
The Wingate by Wyndham is ideally situated at the intersection of I-20 and Hwy 378, the western gateway for metropolitan Columbia. The hotel is located right off the interstate to accommodate ... More »

Embassy Suites Columbia - Greystone

  • 200 Stoneridge Drive
  • Columbia, SC 29210
  • Phone: 803-252-8700
  • Fax: (803) 256-8749
  • Tollfree: 800-EMBASSY
  • Visit Website

Hampton Inn Downtown Historic District

  • 822 Gervais Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-231-2000
  • Fax: (803) 231-2868
  • Tollfree: 800-HAMPTON
  • Visit Website

Hilton Columbia Center

  • 924 Senate Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-744-7800
  • Fax: (803) 744-7777
  • Tollfree: 800-HILTONS
  • Visit Website

Hilton Garden Inn Columbia/Harbison

  • 434 Columbiana Drive
  • Columbia, SC 29212
  • Phone: 803-407-6640
  • Fax: (803) 407-6639
  • Tollfree: 877-STAYHGI
  • Visit Website

Holiday Inn & Suites Columbia-Airport

  • 110 McSwain Drive
  • West Columbia, SC 29169
  • Phone: 803-391-4000
  • Fax: (803) 391-4001
  • Tollfree: 1-888-HOLIDAY
  • Visit Website

Homewood Suites by Hilton

  • 230 Greystone Boulevard
  • Columbia, SC 29210
  • Phone: 803-239-4663
  • Fax: (803) 239-2700
  • Tollfree: 800-CALL HOME
  • Visit Website

Hyatt Place Columbia/Downtown/Vista

  • 819 Gervais Street
  • Columbia, SC 29201
  • Phone: 803-978-2013
  • Visit Website

Hyatt Place Columbia/Harbison

  • 1130 Kinley Road
  • Irmo, SC 29063
  • Phone: 803-407-1560
  • Fax: (803) 407-9365
  • Tollfree: 800-833-1516
  • Visit Website
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