Back to the Future: Partnership Marketing Builds Destination Strength
Friday, March 03, 2023, 12pm by Jonathan Freeze, CDME
While attending our Tourism Talk Live this quarter, I was reminded how much destination marketing is really based in good partner relations and in relationships that are mutually beneficial, two-way and interactive. I also was reminded of how many new faces and other changes we’re still seeing in our Wake County hospitality industries during their final recovery from COVID-19 losses.
Like past renaissance periods for countywide tourism, 2023 will be an exciting time of transformation and leveling-up for the Raleigh area and thus for GRCVB too. As the fifth fiscal year of Wake County’s 10-year Destination Strategic Plan starts soon, there are major new developments (capital projects as well as brand/consulting projects) close on the horizon, but before we can get to those fully, we also want to reemphasize the relationships and “the basics” that must be in place always.
For new businesses and new faces in our hospitality sector, I usually explain that the relationship between a CVB and its partners is akin to an hourglass. Consider that there’s a wide range of hospitality businesses/organizations sitting at the top, all of whose organizational, Internet/social and individual staffing details should funnel their way down to the area CVB (or destination marketing/management organization), which sits at the narrow middle.
In Wake County there are more than 4,000 hospitality-sector businesses/organizations (including 1,400+ restaurants), representing 7,300+ key contacts combined, served by GRCVB’s 32 staff members.
A CVB tracks and compares, mixes and matches or otherwise connects all of the various businesses and their organizational variables and assets into a coherent “destination” that can be appreciated by travelers and devises a brand story (with a number of themelines) that can be used to build visitor traffic overall to the area. From the narrow part of the hourglass then, many destination sales, services and marketing tactics descend—each summarizing, referencing or recommending area partners for certain types of Wake County trip-planning; these make their way out to the wide world—a marketplace of millions of professional clients and potential destination customers, domestic and abroad.
Just like an hourglass, the flow of time is always moving in terms of what’s up-to-date or which details are not current in the destination storytelling. GRCVB uses PIXL to gather information most easily from partners (and PIXL is two-way, in that business opportunities are sent out by GRCVB from that platform too); it’s important that each area business/organization logs in at least once a year to help make data updates.
We also facilitate new partner introductions by hosting Tourism Talk Live quarterly meetings at venues around the county, by holding the GRCVB Annual Meeting every August, offering the new partner/staff orientation deck on our website, participating in one-off events or in-person discussions around destination topics and more year-round. Just like a media outlet would, GRCVB’s Marketing & Communications and Public Relations Departments also would like to hear when you have a news release or any other “pitches” for promotion within CVB (or indirectly, economic development allies’) materials flowing out to the world. And, we love it when area hospitality partners (and their advertising and PR reps) join in long-term relationships with us, trusting us with info about what they’re planning, as it helps to structure successful 2023 and 2024 marketing plans for the destination as well.
As GRCVB staff meet your new hires and each of you again post-pandemic, I know all our departments are dedicated to rebuilding the strength of area partner relationships that resulted in 2019 being Wake County’s best tourism year on record. From the Marketing team especially, including those of us who manage the destination database of area partners/contacts and public events, we are committed to nailing these basics again so that everyone can reach new heights in Raleigh area visitation for 2023-2024.
Author: Jonathan Freeze, CDME
Jonathan Freeze, CDME, has built a career in the marketing of places, leading the Greater Raleigh CVB's marketing efforts since 2008. Though a firm believer in the science of marketing, Jonathan also began his career as a writer and creative wordsmith. Recently he contributed an award-winning chapter recounting destination stewardship work in Raleigh to the book Tourism Microentrepreneurship (Emerald Publishing). Learn more