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Over the last few years, destination marketing organizations have been investing more resources to show their elected officials and business stakeholders the impact of tourism dollars on the local economy.
DMOs have always pursued this mission to some degree with a standardized array of industry luncheons, newsletters and impact reports but now they’re starting to get creative. Tourism bureaus such as Visit Anaheim are developing new campaign messaging aimed at local powers-that-be that utilizes the same marketing strategies the board employs to promote the destination outwardly to visitors.
For example, Anaheim launched its Faces of Tourism video series last year profiling both residents who work in the meetings sector and visiting groups that leave some type of long-lasting community impact. The videos are uncontrived conversations designed to provide an authentic viewpoint from the people who help keep the Anaheim Convention Center, Disneyland hotels, and the rest of the city’s annual $6.8 billion visitor economy humming.
“With Faces of Tourism, we wanted to kind of humanize our industry, and we wanted to acknowledge the people in the community who have built their life and career around the meetings sector,” says Jay Burress, president and CEO of Visit Anaheim. “A lot of the community thinks of our industry as just the big hotel owners who are getting rich, and that’s created a kind of separation of two different communities. We wanted to show that the industry is really your neighbor down the street who works for one of the decorators at the convention center.”
Visit Anaheim has produced more than a dozen videos to date but viewership hasn’t been overly extensive, ranging from a couple hundred views to more than 1,000, but Burress says the videos were not developed for a large audience. The distribution is aimed squarely at elected leaders and the local business community to showcase the impact of the DMO and the meetings industry at large.
The latest batch of videos have focused more on specific conventions that make a significant economic and community impact, such as the Natural Products Foods Expo. During its annual event in March, the group donated more than 69,000 meals to the Second Harvest food bank in Anaheim.
In January, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) donated $10,000 and musical instruments to the school district because a number of schools had dropped their music programs due to budget cuts.
“NAMM sends musicians to the schools with guitars and other instruments, who teach the kids for a day how to play,” says Burress. “It’s great visibility for the industry to show how they’re giving back to the community. This industry is much more than just a bunch of people that come in and spend a bunch of money and then leave.”
In the video below, Judy Hamrick worked herself up from a server to catering captain at the Anaheim Convention Center over the last 25 years.
She says, “I have raised three kids and they had braces and they went to school and they were able to play sports, and tourism has helped provide the finances to do that.”