Highlighting Hoosier getaway spots goal of tourism partnership

Topics: College of Communication Information and Media, Immersive Learning, Building Better Communities

May 9, 2011

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During a news conference on May 9 at the Ball State Indianapolis Center, Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and Rod Smith, a telecommunications instructor, unveiled a series of videos showcasing many of the state~~~s vacation destinations for VisitIndiana.com. Skillman told the media she had a "wow" moment when she first viewed the videos.
Hoosiers wanting to visit exciting vacation destinations within a few hours' drive of their homes need look no further than a website full of high definition videos produced by Ball State University students.

The Indiana Office of Tourism Development (IOTD) is partnering with Ball State to showcase Indiana road trip ideas in creative ways. Students are creating the topical state-of-the art videos to drive traffic to VisitIndiana.com, via a campaign focusing on online marketing, social media and email marketing. The videos also will augment the site's Trip Ideas section.

"Working with young, creative talent to highlight some of the people and places that make Indiana a great travel destination has been an exciting and valuable opportunity, "said Lt. Governor Becky Skillman. "The compelling videos they created coupled with outstanding special offers give Hoosiers more reasons to plan nearby trips and take advantage of affordable getaway options."

Led by telecommunications professors Chris Flook and Rod Smith, 15 students enrolled in an immersive learning class spent the last academic year shooting and editing eight videos to entice Hoosiers to visit Richmond, Indianapolis, Bloomington and Lake Michigan, among other sites.

"This wasn't your traditional class; instead, we treated the students like they were employees of a top flight organization," Flook said. "We met with IOTD representatives, collected our ideas and then allowed the students to go into the field to address a real-world problem for a major state organization. The students had complete freedom but were mindful of the requirements established by our client."

State officials plan to distribute the videos through a publicity campaign as well as social media outlets to further generate awareness of Indiana travel opportunities. The videos will support the state's promotion of Visit Indiana Week, the kickoff of the summer travel season, which begins May 9.

Brian Blackford, IOTD's communications and outreach director, said his organization was extremely impressed with the segments produced by the students.

"Ball State was selected for the project because of the ease of partnering with the university as well as the great reputation of its telecommunications department," he said. "To secure high-definition videos highlighting so many Indiana destinations in a compelling way is a great opportunity for the state's tourism efforts. The students were professional in providing dynamic and engaging content while their use of technology was impressive."

After viewing the students' work, Flook believes the team was inspired to create videos that would be the envy of many professionals.

"They knew that this project meant they could not just do average work because the client wanted their best. We set the standards very high, and I can say that they met all the goals."

Flook believes the project yielded some of the best video production work from a variety of locations some students — and likely many Hoosiers — had not previously visited.

"We had a short window to get the video done starting late August and ending by Oct. 1, but it allowed us to get some scenes when Indiana is absolutely gorgeous," he said. "I think several of our students were surprised that Indiana has beautiful beaches and dunes along Lake Michigan and rolling hills in southern Indiana that resemble those found in Kentucky and Tennessee.

"In fact, we visit several small communities, which really resemble quaint European towns. Indiana is filled with great destinations, but you will never know about them unless you get out and visit them."

The project is part of Building Better Communities Fellows at Ball State, an immersive learning program in which faculty and students find real-world solutions to real-world problems for Indiana businesses and organizations.

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