The DMO Download

A weekly digest on economic development and cultural, heritage tourism news.

Chicago Launches New Marketing Campaign

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The News You Need to Know

This week, you can catch up on a ton of useful destination marketing and economic development tools. Read more about how Blue Ridge Parkway generated over a billion dollars in sales, a design competition that could boost the cultural tourism scene, Chicago’s newest marketing campaign, why empathy is important in the tourism industry and more. Keep reading!

Blue Ridge Parkway Tourism Generated $1.3 Billion in 2021

Sixteen million visitors took a trip to the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway last year, spending over $1.3 billion in the local gateway regions and supporting 17,900 jobs and $1.7 billion in an economic boost for local communities. This places the 469-mile-long parkway at the top of the list of most visited places by the National Park Service. Restaurants and lodgings were the businesses that benefited the most from the tourism spike, earning over $519 million and $978 million respectively.

“For generations, the Parkway has attracted millions of visitors who enjoy both the natural beauty and cultural heritage of our region, while contributing positively to the economy in our surrounding communities,” Tracy Swartout, the Blue Ridge Parkway’s superintendent, said.

This is an excellent case for the economic benefits of heritage tourism. People want to engage with the history and natural beauty that our country has to offer, giving DMOs everywhere amazing opportunities to capitalize on their community’s unique offerings. In doing so, DMOs can directly impact their region’s economy by increasing overnight stays and boosting local businesses.

A Design Competition Could Boost Africatown’s Heritage and Cultural Tourism Scene

Just outside of Mobile, Ala. lies a community rich in culture and heritage: Africatown. Built in 1868 by 32 illegally kidnapped West Africans, the community has stood the test of time and remains an invaluable heritage destination. However, Africatown has suffered from years of neglect and industrial development. To preserve this community and cultural treasure, The Africatown International Design Idea Competition gives “multi-disciplinary design teams a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to imagine a revived Africatown, with 16 land and water-edged venues on 4 four sites across three cities that will interpret and honor its history.”

Together, the venues will become a new cultural heritage tourism destination system called the Africatown Cultural Mile, ultimately attracting millions of visitors and generating billions of dollars for the surrounding communities. Not only will there be tourism opportunities, but also a reinvigorated neighborhood with new housing, schools and green spaces.

This is a very unique way to get a destination on the map as a major heritage tourism destination. Not only will this boost tourism to the area, but also revive the neighborhoods and give architects an opportunity to flex their creative muscles. It’s a win-win all around! Submissions close on September 19, 2022. We look forward to seeing the new venues! Learn more about the competition here.

‘When You Go You Know’

This catchy phrase is the name of Chicago’s newest marketing campaign looking to attract more visitors to the city after the pandemic. The city hopes to attract visitors who will book more than just a day trip. In 2021, about 30.7 million people visited Chicago, which is just half of the pre-pandemic number of 61.5 million. This year, Chicago looks to overcome negative perceptions about the city and shine a light on its neighborhoods.

“Through the campaign, we are illustrating the emotional and transformative impact our city can have on visitors. We also want people to experience Chicago as it should be experienced and the campaign helps change people’s perspectives of what they may think Chicago has to offer,” said president and CEO of Choose Chicago Lynn Osmond said.

This is a good example of how a destination can use marketing to alter perceptions and focus on the unique parts of their region. A unified brand lays the groundwork for successful marketing campaigns. With Chicago’s hard work and stakeholder buy-in, they’ll be able to accomplish this in no time. We’ll be keeping an eye on this campaign!

Empathy Is the Key in Getting Your Visitors to Feel Comfortable

It’s old news that the pandemic has impacted the travel industry immensely. But not all change is bad. If there’s one good thing that’s come from the pandemic, it’s the increase in flexibility. Though born out of necessity, this flexibility has allowed visitors to have more control of their travel situations in a world where control is hard to come by.

If destinations aren’t willing to give visitors the opportunity to change their plans at the last minute, it’s less likely that they’ll book in the first place. While Covid-19 has become a part of daily life, other life changes ranging from the common cold to even a death in the family can leave families needing to cancel or postpone their trip. If they can do this with little consequences, then they’ll begin to gain more trust in your destination.

This is just one way that destinations can show their visitors empathy, but there are many other ways to allow them to feel comfortable with your region. From technology to clear communication, DMOs need to be making strides to build reliable and empathetic reputations amongst travelers. Read more here.

Going Live Can Liven Up Your Social Media Presence

Many social media platforms have a feature that allows users to go live in front of their followers. It can definitely be intimidating going live because you need to make a successful first impression while trying to avoid mistakes since you can’t re-take your video. However, going live is an excellent way to interact with your audience in real-time while displaying a less filtered and more human side of your brand. Here are some tips from Sprout Social for your next live session:

  • Have a purpose for your live stream
  • Promote your live stream in advance
  • Go live for more than 10 minutes
  • ​​Don’t worry if things aren’t perfect

The most important thing to remember is that your visitors want authenticity. Live videos are ways to engage your stakeholders and give audiences an inside look into the personality of your community. Live video will offer more personalization in ways to interact with your followers and can bring in more people to your destination. If your destination hasn’t considered implementing live video in your marketing strategy, then now is the time to get closer to your audience.

Paige Fay
Content Production Manager at Bull Moose Marketing. A lover of literature and a sunshine enthusiast who probably drinks too much tea. Connect with me on LinkedIn @paigeschamberg

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