Tourism is an ever-changing business. What’s desirable to a potential visitor one year may be of little priority the next. One thing is for sure: Today’s travelers have option after option to feed their vacationing appetite. Because their options are our competition, our most important obligation becomes knowing our product, knowing our customer, and knowing why, out of a world of choices, they should choose to spend their time here.
For 2006, the Peoria Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (PACVB) has established lofty goals for expansion of tourism, designed to attract the interests of many. Our key focus areas include:
• Branding the Destination. The term “brand” may at first suggest packaged goods—from Coca-Cola to Disney. Intangible products such as destinations need branding too. Consumers must have an emotional connection to give meaning to their purchase and, thus, their experience. Destination branding is about clearly defining a purpose, being distinct, consistently communicating a persona or image, and delivering on that promise once a visitor arrives. We intend to revitalize our brand so it may better serve as a powerful economic advantage.
• Research. Research is the essence of all decisions as it relates to branding, selling, and advertising. Consumer-based advertising must be a priority if we are to more specifically target our expenditures and our message. For this reason, research components will be implemented in 2006 with the goal of achieving more satisfied customers, more effective advertising, and a more improved product.
• Marketing and the Peoria Civic Center Expansion. As the convention sales force behind the expanding Peoria Civic Center, set for completion in 2007, we’ll use 2006 to fuel sales for future use of this addition to our product base. Our growing sales staff allows us to focus on the increased business opportunities afforded to us by this additional meeting space.
• Exploring Nature-Based Opportunities. In recent years, development of the Illinois River Country cooperative marketing campaign has increased the visibility of our region. This campaign helped lay a foundation for a segment of our market growing at a phenomenal rate. Nature has provided the Peoria area with invaluable, precious resources, and it’s our job to package them into memorable experiences.
• Focused Convention and Sports Sales. In a word, the PACVB is about sales. It’s where our expertise lies, and generating top-notch convention and sports partners who choose the Peoria area as their event destination is big business. As our sales efforts move forward in each of these areas, it’s inherent that we sell the destination—not just some of its components. Our sports product is expanding, and we intend to further develop our sports marketing programs.
• Travelers Television Network. This year, we’ll see implementation of the Travelers Television Network in our local hotels. Visitors get a visual impression of all the area has to offer, right from their hotel room. The professionally filmed footage airs in categorized segments, with spots for advertising opportunities. We plan to expand use of this marketing tool by gaining further involvement from our members and partners. IBI