Information for Virginia's Travel Industry

The grant cycle has ended. Please check back in the Spring for the next round.

View as PDF

Virginia is for Lovers Marketing Leverage Program
Terms and Conditions




  • Have you read all instructions, tips, examples, and the application?
  • Have you completed all sections of the cover sheet, including Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEIN) for all partners? The FEIN is used to confirm eligible partners.
  • Have you provided all requested information for all partners, including the partners’ financial commitment? A minimum of three Virginia financial partners are required to participate. Does at least three Virginia partners have a financial commitment, and is your lead partner from Virginia?
  • Are all applicable partners listed on Information on how your free listings can be added can be found at .
  • If your DMO(s) is not a partner, have you received endorsement from the DMO(s) in the project coverage area? Has the DMO(s) also provided their information for the Performance Measures section?
  • Have you thoroughly described your program, clearly stated your established goals, defined the role of your partners, and addressed how you will sustain your program if full funding is not received?
  • Have you identified your specific, realistic target audience, and justified that audience through valid, documented research and data? If you have mentioned a local survey, have you included that specific information in your narrative? Does your research include specific local data with sources cited for that research?
  • Have you clearly stated your baseline numbers, benchmarks, and projected targets so as to effectively measure the outcomes of your project? Have you completed the Research and Performance Measures Plan section and limited the amount of “zeros” and “not applicables” for each partner? Remember you can add measures that are relevant to your partners and program.
  • Have you clearly and specifically stated what your specific message to your audience is?
  • Have you clearly and specifically stated what your call to action is?
  • Have you provided a detailed marketing plan, timeline for action, how your marketing item reaches your target audience, and budget for your project?
  • Does your program incorporate the “Virginia is for Lovers” campaign opportunities, including the 50 Years of Love Campaign? Have you made sure if you checked a paid item in this section, that the item is contained in your Marketing Plan?
  • If your application includes either research or branding, do you have a full and robust marketing plan? Applications that do not included robust marketing plans will not be funded.
  • If your application received a draft review, have you addressed all comments from the review?
  • Did you see on screen confirmation that each section of your application was saved?
  • Did you see on screen confirmation that your application was submitted for review and/or final submission?

Please take the time before submitting your draft and especially your final application, to go back over your application to make sure all sections, tables, and forms are complete. Use this checklist to help evaluate your application. You will NOT be able to make amendments to your application after the due date!

Applications are due by 5:00 PM on Tuesday, December 17, 2019.


What is the Virginia Tourism Corporation Marketing Leverage Program?

The Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) Marketing Leverage Program is a matching grant program that is designed to stimulate new tourism marketing programs through the creation of tourism partnerships that extend the “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” campaign. The objective of this program is to leverage limited marketing dollars resulting in increased visitor spending, overnight stays, revenue, and jobs. In this application we want you to tell us:

  1. What is your program?
  2. What research supports your Target Audience and/or Target Market?
  3. What is your marketing plan to reach your audience?
  • IMPORTANT: Do not wait until the last minute to submit your applications! Waiting until the last minute does not allow VTC to diagnose any online submission problems, and does not allow time to complete your application properly!
  • VTC will offer a review of the draft of your application. Such review drafts must be submitted no later than 11/21/2019 by 5:00 PM. Please be sure to let your partners know that they will need to complete their Partner Contact Forms and Performance Measures PRIOR to submitting a draft for review. You will not be able to submit a draft for review - or a final application - unless ALL sections are completed.
  • Drafts should include the completed Research and Performance Measures Sections and the completed Marketing, Budget, and Timeline. Drafts received after this date WILL NOT be reviewed. The review comments are intended to assist in strengthening your application. Review is optional and will not in any way guarantee approval of the application.
  • The final application must be submitted via the online application system no later than 12/17/2019 by 5:00 PM. No other application delivery formats will be accepted. Grading of applications is expected to be completed and award/denial notifications made by 02/28/2020.

The Rules


A minimum of three Virginia entities must partner financially to apply for funding consideration. In order to be considered a financial partner, a minimum commitment of $250.00 is required. Partners may consist of Virginia towns, cities, counties, convention and visitors bureaus, chambers of commerce, other local or regional destination marketing organizations (DMO), private businesses, museums, attractions, cultural events, and other tourism-related entities. The Federal Employer Identification number (FEIN) must be included for all partners. The FEIN will be used to confirm different partners. For example, two departments of the same town that share a FEIN would NOT be considered two separate partners. Or, two hotel properties that shared an FEIN would NOT be considered two separate partners.

DMOs are not required to be a financial partner; however, all applications must include indication of support per the online application from each DMO(s) within the program coverage area, as well as include the DMO’s locality performance measures. DMOs can be – and are encouraged to be – partners in the application. A list of DMOs can be found at In the absence of a recognized DMO, the highest ranking local governing body representative will need to indicate support for the application, as well as provide locality performance measures.

Please contact your program area DMO sooner than later, so that they will have enough time to respond to your request. DO NOT WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO REQUEST SUPPORT FROM YOUR DMO!

Programs that are regional in scope are encouraged. If you have non-Virginia partners, you MUST have a minimum of three, Virginia financial partners, and a Virginia lead partner. In addition, your program must be located in Virginia, and encourage visitation to Virginia. State/federal agencies may apply for funding; however applications that include state/federal agencies must have a minimum of two additional, NON-state/federal agency financial partners. State/federal agencies may not be the lead partner in an application.
All applicable partners in the application must be listed on and must provide a reciprocal link to One partner must serve as the lead partner who will administer the program. The lead applicant can only be the lead partner in one program per funding cycle and the program can apply only in one funding tier. Potential vendor of services (i.e. printer, web developer, etc.) for or to the application program cannot be a partner in the application. Applicants are encouraged to seek services through a competitive bid process and are encouraged to utilize SWAM (Small Business, Women, or Minority-Owned) vendors, when possible. For more information about SWAM certification, please visit

This program is not intended to be a sustainable funding source for your program. All programs must be for new initiatives. The use of VTC funds must be clearly specified in the application.


There are limited funds for this program, therefore funding will be awarded on a merit scale. Awarding of funding is based upon information contained in the application and will be scored based upon the VTC Marketing Leverage Program Scoring Guidelines (shown below). Since awards are determined from these scores, the application must be as complete as possible. Do not assume that the review team is familiar with your area, or program, so be sure to include all requested information. Actual award may or may not equal amount requested and is based on available funds at the time of award. In making decisions on funding applications, the Virginia Tourism Corporation may consider such factors as type and scope of the applying organizations, campaign audience and message, the organization’s additional resources, past awards to – and applications from – the applying organizations, the impact and priority of the proposed program, the timetable, the number of applications received, the dollar amounts of the applications received and most importantly, the impact of the program’s ability to increase and track overnight stays and visitor revenue in the program coverage area.

The following points are assigned to sections in determining your application score
Program Description and Partner Evaluation 15 points
Target Audience and Market Research 25 points
Performance Measures 20 points
Marketing Message and Program 25 points
50 Years of Love Campaign 5 points
VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS Campaign 10 points
Total Possible Points 100 points

The Funds

There are two levels of funding in the VTC Marketing Leverage Program. The maximum match amount in each program will be as follows:

Up to $10,000Maximum award of $10,000 with a 1:1 match required (one dollar from partners matched by one dollar from VTC)
$10,001 to $50,000Minimum of $10,001 up to a maximum of $50,000 with a 2:1 match required (two dollars from partners matched by one dollar from VTC).
  1. Funds will be disbursed on a reimbursement basis upon receipt by VTC of copies of vendor invoices showing the actual costs, proof of payment of invoices, proof of product or ad campaign (tear sheets, examples of printed and digital materials, copies of audio or video tapes, etc.), and/or screen captures and active web addresses for website related programs. Funding payment requests must include the VTC Marketing Leverage Program Reimbursement Request form provided after award notification.
  2. The match is a cash match only. No in-kind good or services will be allowed for matching purposes.
  3. In considering your match components, be aware that you and your partners can use your existing, marketing budgets as part of your and your partners' match as long as those media outlets fit within with your application’s program. Additionally, only allowable items covered by the VTC Marketing Leverage Program (Pages 7-8) can be used for matching purposes and qualify for reimbursement. Eligible expenditures that have occurred six months prior to the due date of this application (DUE DATE: 12/17/2019 by 5:00 PM) can be used as part of your match component, and are reimbursable upon successful award notification.
  4. Any changes in the applicants program that arise after notification of award must be submitted in writing and approved in writing by VTC. Failure to do so may result in default and any funding awarded to date may be refundable to VTC.
  5. All programs should be completed within 18 months of the award notification date.
  6. The LEAD Partner may request up to a 6 month Extension ONCE before the end of the 18 month duration of the application program. No further extensions will be granted.
  7. VTC must report on the effectiveness of the VTC Marketing Leverage Program to our stakeholders. We must show a return on investment of the program. To that end, you will be required to provide a brief final report on the effectiveness and outcomes of your programs.
  8. A final report must be submitted to the VTC within 60 days of the end of the program detailing the results of the program, including return on investment, performance measure results based upon your Research and Performance Measures Plan and other supporting data. The final report is a simple, two-page summary of the results of your Performance Measures, and other outcomes of your program.
  9. Failure to provide the final report, or failure to meet guidelines stated in the application, may result in partners being in default and any funding awarded to date may be refundable to VTC.

What the VTC Marketing Leverage Program Will Fund

IMPORTANT: FOR ALL PARTNERS IN YOUR APPLICATION, failure to incorporate “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” in your marketing, including not displaying the “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” logo, will result in reimbursement requests being denied. Exceptions: 30 second radio advertisements, web banner advertisements, and 1/12 page or smaller advertisements are not required to have the Virginia is for Lovers logo. Please visit to request the Virginia is for Lovers logo. Also refer to the Virginia is for Lovers Brand Style Guide for more information. The Guide can be found at and then click VTC Brand Style Guide to download a PDF.

  • Placement of Advertisements – (includes print ads, digital, radio, television, etc.). Ads must promote the applicants area to visitors. Applications must incorporate aspects of the “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” campaign. Applications that more fully integrate the “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” campaign marketing opportunities will score higher. If the proposal includes media outlets that are not part of the VTC Partnership Advertising Opportunities, justification should be included as to why the proposed media outlet is used. Please visit for more information on VTC Partnership Advertising Opportunities.
  • FOR ALL PARTNERS IN YOUR PROGRAM, failure to incorporate “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” in your marketing, including not displaying the VIFL logo, will result in reimbursement requests being denied.
  • Printed Materials – Travel related printed materials including brochures, media kits, group tour publications, meeting planner publications and other printed information materials designed to promote the partner’s area as a travel destination. Such programs MUST include a marketing mechanism and plan for promoting the availability of such printed materials.
  • Website Development – Development of websites to promote the applicants areas are eligible. Maintenance fees for websites are NOT eligible. Websites must include the “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS” logo and must provide a reciprocal link to from their website. Such programs must include a marketing mechanism and plan for promoting the awareness and availability of such websites.
  • Participation in desk-side media appointments with the VTC Public Relations Department. Travel expenses, including accommodations, and transportation, are NOT eligible for funding.
  • Participation in the VTC LOVEwork Program. For more information, please refer to
  • International sales missions with VTC & CRUSA, including Canada. For more information, please refer to
  • Digital Marketing – Search engine optimization, banner and website advertising, and other electronic marketing initiatives are eligible expenses.
  • Creation of mobile marketing applications so long as they are measurable. This includes mobile applications and other related programs.
  • Social media marketing initiatives, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
  • Influencer Marketing – Use of Influencer Marketers. To read and review our Best Practices for Influencer Marketing, please refer to NOTE: This is a password protected page. Information on requesting a password is available at the link above.
  • Production of B-Roll video footage and high resolution photography. Any such materials produced should be offered for use by VTC for promotional purposes and should comply with VTC Usage Rights. Please contact VTC prior to production of such materials for complete technical requirements and VTC Usage Rights policies. Information on “Planning Your Photo and Video Needs” can be found at
  • Travel and Trade Show Booth Rental/Participation Fees – Fees associated with registration at travel and trade shows are eligible. Travel expenses, including accommodations, and transportation, are NOT eligible for funding.
  • Dues and Memberships – Fees that are required to participate in marketing initiatives or travel trade shows are eligible.
  • Outdoor advertising through paid billboards.
  • Tradeshow Displays – Design and production of display units that will be used in conjunction with travel promotions at travel and tradeshows are eligible.
  • Fulfillment Costs – Fees associated with mailing collateral materials as a result of the marketing programs are eligible as well as the cost of toll-free numbers associated with the programs.
  • The cost of doing research DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR PROGRAM. Typically 2% to 5% of your programs overall cost should be set aside for research. Research programs funded by the VTC Marketing Leverage Program must share the research results and any reports with the VTC Research Department.
  • Participation fees in VTC domestic sales trade show opportunities.
  • Participation fees in a sales mission with VTC Domestic Sales to target markets for Tour and Travel, Meetings & Conventions or Sports Marketing.

What the VTC Marketing Leverage Program will NOT Fund

The following will NOT be funded by the VTC Marketing Leverage Program, nor will qualify as a Partner's match:

  • Programs that do not contribute to increased visitation to Virginia will not qualify.
  • Programs that focus more on a tangible product’s marketing that does not include a STRONG travel marketing component will not qualify.
  • Programs that focus exclusively on a RESEARCH project, will not qualify. SUCH APPLICATIONS MUST INCLUDE EXTENSIVE MARKETING INITIATIVES AND NOT JUST FOCUS ON RESEARCH. The Research cost must be directly associated with the marketing program. Research costs not directly associated with the program are not eligible expenses.
  • Programs that focus exclusively on a BRANDING project will not qualify. SUCH APPLICATIONS MUST INCLUDE EXTENSIVE MARKETING INITIATIVES AND NOT JUST FOCUS ON BRANDING. The branding initiative must be directly associated with the marketing program. Branding costs not directly associated with the program are not eligible expenses.
  • Administrative expenses including office space, salary and personnel costs, office supplies, office equipment, normal office postage, other administrative costs and overhead costs, are not eligible expenses. (Toll-free numbers associated with the programs will be funded as described above, as will postage fulfillment costs directly associated with the programs).
  • Costs of promotional items (such as pens, pencils, t-shirts, hats, general merchandise, stickers, on-site or local banners, etc.) are not eligible expenses.
  • Event start-up and production costs.
  • FAM/Media Tours costs associated with travel (transportation, lodging, meals, etc.) are not eligible expenses. Development of media kits and/or other collateral marketing materials are allowable expenses.
  • The costs of signage and local/onsite banners - including production and installation - are not eligible expenses. EXCEPTION: Costs associated with design, fabrication, and installation of Virginia Civil War Trails interpretive markers are an allowable signage cost. Maintenance fees for Virginia Civil War Trails interpretive markers are NOT eligible expenses. Projects that include Virginia Civil War Trails interpretive markers must include a marketing component promoting the presence of the marker. An application for a project that features Virginia Civil War Trails interpretive markers must be endorsed by Drew Gruber, Executive Director, Virginia Civil War Trails (Contact: 804-783-7423 or Virginia Civil War Trails, PO Box 1862, Williamsburg, VA 23187). This endorsement must be indicated in your program description, and proof of endorsement (signed letter) must be included with reimbursement requests for Virginia Civil War Trails markers. *NOTE: When applying for grant funding for a Civil War Trails Marker, please include in your project description section, a brief draft of the marker text, site location, and mention of endorsement from Virginia Civil War Trails.
  • Customer service and industry training programs are not eligible expenses.
  • Ongoing maintenance and hosting fees for websites are not eligible expenses.
  • Travel expenses, including accommodations, and transportation, are not eligible expenses.