Cities across the U.S. are closing the doors on their storefront visitor bureaus and taking their message to the road. At least ten cities have done away with the stationary institutions and pimped out trucks and vans with iPads, map murals, and music to draw tourists to this new generation of visitor centers.
The mobile visitor centers are used both to inform visitors already in a location, like Arlington Convention and Visitors Service‘s truck that travels between the nearby neighborhoods, and draw tourists to a new city, like Visit Eau Claire‘s Fun Patrol that attends music fairs across the state.
The most recent mobile launch is from Visit Saint Paul, which unveiled its mobile visitor center Paul just last week. Similarly, Missouri National Recreational River rolled out a mobile ranger station last month to attract visitors in other parts of the state to the actual river.
All tourism organizations emphasize the importance of taking their message “to the people” when announcing the new initiative.
Troy Thompson, founder of the Travel 2.0 Consulting Group, spoke in favor of closing traditional visitor centers at the Missouri Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus Annual Conference in 2012.
His advice for destination marketing organizations was as follows:
Take your message to the people!
Conventions, sporting events, holiday weekends at the airport, marketing invasions of the next town and why not a road trip to Vegas?
Sure, keep some brochures in the thing. Line the outside with flip-up panels and iPads. Customize the interior with 4 or 5 information stations. Any why wouldn’t you pimp that thing out with a great paint job, including a huge map of the local area.
Tweet the location. Build a following. Show up spontaneously and give out great prizes. Become a visible part of the community.
This is not a campaign.
This is a long-term solution.
A permanent shift to reflect the changing consumer.
Sait Paul tourism officials speak on the importance of tourism and the expected impact of their new mobile visitor center in the video below:
Click through the slideshow above to see the mobile visitor centers of ten U.S. cities.