I originally moved to Reno-Tahoe in 2003 because I was so impressed with the area, as did countless of other Californians (dozens of whom I’ve since met) who were looking to escape the traffic, smog, and urban sprawl for an area that had all the amenities of your average California “suburb,” but offered a much more scenic, refreshing, affordable, and manageable pace of life rife with countless opportunities for world-class recreation and outdoor adventure.
While most people outside of the area still associate Reno with the slogan, “The Biggest Little City,” there have been a variety of other re-branding attempts (as outlined in this post by local Reno branding expert Larry DeVincenzi) including “America’s Adventure Place,” “Far From Expected,” the ill-fated “A Little West of Center,” and the most recently unveiled, “What’s Your Passion?”
Reno is a city with a bit of an image problem. For too many years we have suffered from poor marketing, bad communication and too much of a focus on trying to be something we are not. When the economic crisis hit, Reno was devastated. Parts of our community quickly fell into disrepair and neglect, and as businesses shuttered their doors and left town, we saw our economy, our morale and our once proud city sink into the doldrums.
So how does one successfully brand or re-brand a city? This will be just one of several questions being addressed at next Tuesday’s Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association luncheon that will feature the new CEO’s of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority (RSCVA), the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), the North Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, and North Lake Tahoe Resort Association (NLTRA).
The “Why I Love Reno” Campaign
In 2011, a local commercial real estate broker decided to take matters into his own hands and turned to some friends (a local news station anchor, a member of the university’s journalism faculty, the owner of a local marketing agency, the general manager of the Triple A baseball team) to create a video showcasing what locals like most about Reno. Below was the resulting footage:
From the moment I first saw this video, I was excited about it because I felt like the region had finally turned a corner. This was a different type of marketing … and it seemed to be working.
Crowd-Sourcing as a Destination Marketing Tactic
According to a company called About Tourism Destination Consultants based in Athens, Greece (this is what I love about the web!), in a blog post published today entitled “Crowd Sourcing for Destination Marketing,” the author writes:
Tourism boards around the world, such as in Canada, Australia, Iceland amongst many others, have been embracing crowd-sourcing for the last few years. Engaging the local community, giving them the power to showcase their knowledge of their own destination while at the same time enhancing the authenticity and ‘personal experience’ factor in the marketing messages is a path widely chosen in many campaigns … We especially like it when the local community is also involved in even earlier stages, when the responsible tourism marketing organizations decide on the brand identity as the base of all future actions.
While traditional marketing tactics are no doubt still useful, it’s impossible to ignore the variety of options now available to marketers and how to best transform those opportunities into something both meaningful and actionable. Whether it be running a Facebook campaign entitled “29 Dates in Philadelphia” that resulted in 53,000 entries and 12,000 fans (as Philadelphia did), challenging citizens to “create a tourism video that highlights Savannah’s sassy spirit and Southern charm” (as Savannah did), handing over your country’s Twitter account to its citizens for a day as the country of Sweden did with its “Curators of Sweden” campaign, or hiring people to talk up local festivals on social media and to document their experiences through photography and video (as the state of Louisiana is did), one fact remains: the traditional approach to tourism marketing has changed.
Now it’s your turn! What are some of the creative ways you’ve noticed your local city being marketed over time? How do you find information about a location you might want to visit or travel to someday? What is it about the places you choose to travel to that makes you most want to visit them? And if you live in Reno, what do you think Reno has done well in marketing the region? What do you think could be done better, and why?