Destination 2028 Implementation in Fiscal Year 2021–2022
During the 2021-2022 fiscal year (implementation year-three for the Wake County Destination Strategic Plan), GRCVB leadership and staff—alongside a Destination 2028 Blue Ribbon Task Force—logged many accomplishments across the eight priorities. A summary of strategic recommendations that were gotten underway or were completed last year follows. The planned implementation of recommendations for the fiscal year ahead also will be summarized in the Destination 2028 subsection of visitRaleigh.com.
Meetings and Conventions Priority
Worked with elected officials and municipal staff to execute a new Request for Interest (RFI) for a minimum-500-room, full-service hotel in downtown Raleigh and a visioning study for a Raleigh Convention Center expansion; also worked with the City of Raleigh and JLL to conduct a refresh study about the Meetings and Conventions Priority, in light of the full-service downtown convention hotel RFI and convention center expansion vision. The Convention Sales Department implemented targeted engagement for full-service meeting hotels including making hotel visits in all Wake County meeting districts; meanwhile the Marketing and Communications Department prepared a group marketing presentation to be delivered for all districts' full-service meeting hotels in 2022-2023.
Developed a strategy for municipal engagement that will result in a memo of understanding between parks and recreation directors in Wake County outlining minimum tourism standards for sports venues and a shared commitment to leverage our capital assets by working together to strategically market venues and co-host events whenever applicable. Worked with partners, municipal staffs and elected officials on reengagement for PNC Arena enhancement design and concepts and the selection of a design firm for the indoor sports complex to be built in Cary.
Successfully worked with N.C. Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln) and the General Assembly to launch the N.C. Esports Production Grant, part of the state budget funded at $5 million annually for the next three years. An additional one-time appropriation from the General Assembly was passed at $16 million for an Esports Production and Performance Facility and a mobile truck unit for the UNC System Schools, housed at North Carolina State University, which will bring esports activations to all of North Carolina.
Successfully relaunched the Signature Event Development Pilot Program with two major events: moved the Dreamville Festival to a two-day event and secured the first esports event for PNC Arena (Apex Legends Global Series Year 2 Championship). Successfully launched the CVB's Economic Impact Calculator for events, sports competitions and festivals whose results our countywide stakeholders and communities can access for evaluation of tourism projects and “highest and best use” of public funding. Reinstated database contractors to assist our area hospitality partners in updating their calendared events in PIXL or the destination database.
Key Attractors Priority
Continued to track the development and prospective installation of the Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and partner to promote post-pandemic new developments coming online at Marbles Kids Museum, the North Carolina Museum of Art and North Carolina Museum of History. The Bureau administration team continued to engage with the development process and prospective groundbreaking of Phase 1 at Dorothea Dix Park, with the aim of incorporating tourism drivers into the park plan wherever possible.
Individual Leisure Priority
The Marketing and Communications Department continued to ally with People-First Tourism (P1t) Inc. for the curation and sale of unique experiences that further drive overnight stays from visitors through company- and CVB-fueled marketing. Last year's destination stewardship/sales effort included more recruitment of tourism microentrepreneurs (in Apex, Raleigh, Zebulon and unincorporated areas of the county), a jumpstart of post-pandemic bookings overall, organization of experiences with set dates/times and the creation of p1experiences.com. A seasonal project started in May 2022 to extend P1t’s efforts into Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, Rolesville and southeast Raleigh specifically.
Destination Development Priority
Continued to engage with municipal and private-sector leaders on the usage and development of key land parcels through Wake County towns' master plans and tourism-related (hotel) development opportunities.
Regional Demand Drivers Priority
With the planned resumption of RDU International Airport's international flights post-pandemic, developed new or revised strategies for Wake County's international tourism market through relationships with airlines, with the airport staff and with Visit North Carolina. Continued to engage with academic thought leadership directly at Meredith College and N.C. State University and through a new relationship formed with the Cooperating Raleigh Colleges consortium.
Quality of Place Priority
Laid groundwork for the creation of Wake County's first Quality of Place Summit with potential stakeholders/co-presenters at the Raleigh Chamber and in traditional economic development. With GRCVB's endorsement, the local organization AWAKE held exploratory meetings throughout the county about developing a one-of-a-kind, high-profile event/public art activation that could address the Destination Strategic Plan's recommendation on the development of iconic features as well as the recommendation to better coordinate park/greenway activations countywide.