As we reported yesterday, we have been seeing some big changes in how Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s marketing department does business. Today we learned of a new partnership between BGW and Colonial Williamsburg that has us very excited!

We have obtained a copy of an internal CW email, which describes how the two parks plan to work together in the near future. I personally think the proposed strategy will be great for everyone.

Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens have united for an unprecedented year-round marketing and advertising partnership—with first-ever co-branded TV advertising hitting the airwaves in the weeks leading to spring break—highlighting our combined appeal and the fun of an extended stay in greater Williamsburg.

Leaked Colonial Williamsburg Employee Memo

The part that jumped out at me was BGW’s decision to use CW’s existing hotels as a solution to their long-standing lodging problem. Without an official resort, Busch Gardens has had limited ability to sell bundled vacation packages to visiting guests. This approach may also encourage cross-pollination between Williamsburg’s theme parks and the Historic Triangle, making the area more of a vacation destination. We don’t know what perks BGW guests will receive for staying at CW, but we can easily speculate that early admission or special behind the scenes tours could be included in a package deal.

The expanded partnership includes the designation of two of Colonial Williamsburg’s award-winning hospitality properties—the Williamsburg Lodge and Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel and Suites—as the official hotels of Busch Gardens. The properties will be featured on Busch Gardens Vacations’ booking site, and Colonial Williamsburg will provide shuttle service for its guests between the hotels and theme parks.

Leaked Colonial Williamsburg Employee Memo

The two organizations have also begun a joint TV and on-line marketing campaign. In fact, the first ad is already posted to YouTube!

 

The television spot, produced by THE SWARM agency of Norfolk, will air in the region’s top tourism feeder markets – New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.—during the 58th Annual Grammy Awards on CBS on Monday, Feb. 15, and will appear on CBS.com, on streaming site Hulu.com, and on the websites of popular national family magazines such as Family Circle and Parents.

Leaked Colonial Williamsburg Employee Memo

One question that is probably in all of your minds is why are they doing this now? Well, we know that last Fall Joel Manby, the CEO of SEAS, met with with Mitchell Reiss, President and CEO of Colonial Williamsburg, and they discussed some partnership options. Since then, the two parks have been developing plans to work together. It appears that some great ideas have already been implemented and everyone seems to be onboard. I think the comments from BGW, CW, and Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance speak for themselves:

“The region’s attractions – and Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA are just a few – offer days of fun and something for every member of the family,” said Florencio Ferrao, Colonial Williamsburg vice president of hospitality. “The whole is far greater than the sum of its parts, and this new partnership combines some of our top attractions and amenities – including our award winning hotels – to attract visitors and encourage an extended stay.”

“We have always had cooperative programs with Colonial Williamsburg, but now we are taking our partnership to a whole new level,” said Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing for Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. “We are both putting an unprecedented amount of resources behind this new effort, all for the goal of bringing more tourists to the destination. This is just another layer that complements our individual marketing programs and the Williamsburg destination campaign.”

“From a destination marketing organization perspective, we are pleased to see two of our attractions partnering to offer a vacation package for our visitors,” said Karen Riordan, President & CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance. “Anytime our partners work together to create a win-win scenario for their businesses, while offering great value to visitors, the destination benefits. The partnership’s campaign also complements and amplifies our ‘freedom to have fun’ message for the greater Williamsburg area.”

Leaked Colonial Williamsburg Employee Memo

It seems to me that Busch Gardens Williamsburg is really improving their relationships with the community and its fans, and I am excited to see what their marketing department does next. I believe this new era of cooperation will produce great dividends for the park, and improve the guest experience overall. Certainly can’t complain about the addition of two new official Busch Gardens Williamsburg hotels either!