Reservations suggest '18 could be a banner year for tourism in Hannibal

Some businesses off to record-setting advance reservations

In mid to late March it’s easy to find fans who are optimistic about how their favorite Major League Baseball team will perform in the upcoming season. In downtown Hannibal, while there is interest in how good the St. Louis Cardinals will be, it’s another season that has business people abuzz – tourism season.

During the Tuesday morning meeting of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau (HCVB) Board at city hall, Gail Bryant, director of the HCVB, painted a rosy picture of the 2018 tourism campaign.

“We’re on the brink of really good things,” she said. “It’s partnerships. Everybody is working together.”

Bryant’s upbeat preseason outlook is based on some solid indicators.

“We have received reports from the (Mark Twain) cave and (Mark Twain) riverboat that they have record reservations already for this point and time, being prior to April. That is wonderful,” she said. “We have a lot of groups in April and May with the schools, but this is in addition to that.”

Another positive trend are the reservations that are being seen at a downtown hotel. Bryant reported she has been told advance bookings at the Best Western, located within sight of the river in Hannibal, are up 27 percent over other company properties in the area.

Bryant’s positive outlook is not her’s alone.

“The feel downtown at restaurants and shops is that everybody is really excited,” she said. “They feel like it’s going to be a very good year. They are very optimistic that we’re going to be very busy and that’s great.”

Despite the promise of a successful season ahead, the HCVB is still working to get the word out about what Hannibal has to offer.

“For the spring campaign we’re working with Pandora and Facebook. That’s where we’re marketing right now,” said Bryant.

Hannibal’s special events are not limited to those which occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The recent Chocolate Extravaganza was called an overwhelming success. On Tuesday, Bryant shared good news regarding an end-of-the-year event.

“We just booked our first group for the Christmas B&B Tour during the first week in December. That’s a good sign,” she said.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at [email protected]