As the regional destination marketing organization, Visit Spokane concentrates on attracting meetings and conventions as well as leisure travelers to Spokane. Over the next few years, we will focus on building a strong image for Spokane through a regional destination brand strategy.
Specifically, we’ll position Spokane as a vibrant metropolitan center in the Intermountain Northwest. The idea that will differentiate us from our competition will be our hassle-free approach to modern living and how that is evident in the visitor experience.
Visitors will enjoy finding and using additional time because of the ease of getting here and getting around. They will be able to include more options in their vacations and getaways than other, more complicated cities. The creativity of our residents and get-it-done attitude will be enjoyed by visitors through the local culinary expression as well as public art and regional events.
A hope that I have for the success of the regional brand project is that residents, business leaders, and civic leaders will adopt the brand message and incorporate it into their marketing materials. When we can all sing from the same piece of music in harmony, it will enable us to cut through the clutter with a clear message.
Establishing a regional brand won’t be easy, but the results will be significant when accomplished. The identity of the region is what will elicit an image or an iconic impression of Spokane.
The biggest challenge for implementation is agreeing on a shared vision of the message. Research and case studies have shown that communities that have a strong tourism brand perform better with economic development because decision makers already have a positive impression. That’s what we are aiming for, a brand identity for our region that will resonate with both those who don’t live here and residents.
Tackling the destination brand will help us achieve some milestones related to influencing how Spokane thinks of itself. Our brand study work thus far has indicated that Spokanites are somewhat self-deprecating. We’ll take the opportunity to make the visitor experience paramount and continue to offer destination awareness and hospitality training with a dose of regional brand messaging.
It has taken only a few years to get the Inlander Restaurant Week up and running with more than 100 participating restaurants. Now we need to work on getting more of our restaurants using Open Table and other urban-related tools so that we can be separated from Seattle in the culinary realm. We have enough dining options on our own and need to claim a bigger reputation for our local flavors.
The revitalization of Riverfront Park, the private and public investments being made throughout the region for road improvements and new commercial opportunities are huge for tourism. More people attracted to living downtown will increase foot traffic. Combined, our region is poised to expand visitor spending and increase the local tax base from attracting visitors.
Visit Spokane will continue to play a key role in destination development and represent the voice of the visitor. We also will impact the local economy directly through economic development resulting from tourism promotion.
Our sales focus on citywide and countywide conventions will require additional development of hotels and tourism amenities over the next five to 10 years. The livability of Spokane will be linked to the new dining and other entertainment that will be developed in part from visitor demands and expectations.
The use of video, technology tools, and other creative sales resources will enhance our approach to promoting Spokane to meeting planners. We will use virtual and augmented reality to connect prospective customers to our convention center and hotels in exciting ways.
We know that once we greet meeting planners in Spokane, they are blown away with our convention package, so getting them here is the first hurdle. Our videos and technology will enable us to entice them to take the next step and come for a site visit.
We plan to use augmented reality to provide virtual site visits, enabling us to connect in real time with meeting planners unable to visit. Our hope is that we can use video in our sales activities and to connect in new ways.
I often describe Spokane as a destination that has more than you expect and has a personality that is endearing and worth getting to know. I am optimistic that Visit Spokane will be a trusted source of information for visitors and a critical partner for recruiting conventions.
Tourism is important to our quality of life and economy, and we will continue to be a valued resource for our policy makers for all things tourism related, and a collaborative team player within the region.
Cheryl Kilday is president and CEO of Visit Spokane.
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