ELKHART — With the summer travel season winding up, the city of Elkhart normally sees a spike in traffic at hotels and restaurants near the Indiana Toll Road.

But that increase may be even more pronounced with the launch of a marketing campaign aimed at attracting travelers on the Indiana Toll Road (Interstate 80/Interstate 90) to take a break on their road trip.

The campaign, which launched in early May, is comprised of multiple parts:

  • A series of billboards for eastbound travelers from the Illinois state line to the Elkhart exit at Cassopolis Street and for westbound travelers from the Ohio state line to Exit 92, the designation given by the Toll Road to the Elkhart exit.
  • Signage placed on the toll booths at the westernmost access point near Portage and at the easternmost point near the Ohio state line.
  • Signs and rack cards at each of the Toll Road’s rest areas.
  • Ads in Toll Road brochures and a map distributed by Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission.

Toll booth signThe marketing campaign highlights the density of hotel properties and restaurants, particularly the nationally recognized brands that are attractive to travelers. More than 65 million people transit the Indiana Toll Road each year, and an estimated 10 million travelers visit one of the eight rest areas.

“The Cassopolis Street area has more than 1,400 rooms available within minutes of Exit 92 as well as restaurant brands that travelers are familiar with and trust,” said Janis Logsdon, director of marketing and advertising for the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “The sheer volume of these services just doesn’t exist at any of the other Toll Road exits. This campaign will clearly communicate that to travelers.”

The campaign was made possible by $100,000 in funding from the Elkhart Redevelopment Commission, which has been matched by $100,000 from the ECCVB. The commission decided in February to contribute to the marketing campaign, drawing upon funds from the Cassopolis Street Tax Increment Financing district. The ECCVB is managing the Exit 92 marketing campaign.

“We’re thankful to the members of the redevelopment commission for their foresight in funding this marketing campaign. We’re expecting great results in terms of more rooms sold and more patrons at restaurants in the area of Exit 92,” said Diana Lawson, executive director of the ECCVB.

The summer is traditionally a busy time for vacationers and travelers, but one survey indicates that it may be even busier thanks to lower gas prices. GasBuddy reports that average gas prices in the U.S. are 50 cents lower per gallon than last year, according to a report in Condé Nast Traveler.

GasBuddy’s survey of Americans’ travel plans showed that 75 percent of U.S. adults are planning to travel this summer, 2.2 percentage points higher than last year. The bulk of those adults, 79 percent, will be traveling by car.

“We’re expecting another fantastic summer for visitors. The billboards and other signs will help make it even better for hotels and restaurants along Cassopolis Street,” said Beth Ronzone, general manager of the Red Roof Inn in Elkhart and president of the Elkhart County Innkeepers Tax Commission.

The Northern Indiana Tourism Development Commission is a regional partnership of the convention and visitors bureaus of seven counties in northern Indiana (Elkhart, St. Joseph, LaGrange, Kosciusko, Marshall, LaPorte and Porter). NITDC’s services include cooperative marketing for the member organizations and providing visitor/traveler information at the Toll Road’s rest areas.

The Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau is the official tourism advertising/marketing and public/community relations organization for the Elkhart County hospitality industry. The ECCVB champions local businesses, programs and projects that serve residents, visitors and hospitality interests.

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For more information, contact Terry T. Mark, director of communications of the Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau, at 574-262-8161 or terry@amishcountry.org.