We have reached the halfway point in the 13-month development of the county's Destination Strategic Plan (DSP) for tourism. Here's a quick Q and A to bring everyone up to speed on the project and its progress.

For those who may not know, what is the DSP?
The Destination Strategic Plan for Wake County–DSP for short–is a 13-month planning initiative to make sure that we leverage the area’s full potential as a destination for 10 years to come. The Bureau is spearheading the effort, but the vision is for the resulting plan (and the insights we learn from it) to be helpful to all of our stakeholders or applied by our partners throughout the county; this ensures we’re all on the same page as we work to keep Wake County and Raleigh a place where people will want to visit.

Why are we doing this?
In a nutshell, we want to advance Wake County’s overall visitation and enhance the tourism industries here. The resulting plan will give us—the county, our partners and stakeholders and the Bureau—a road map to confirm we’re making strategic and needed investments to our tourism assets and quality of place. We want to make sure Wake County can continue to provide visitors with unique, authentic and fun experiences that show off our smart lifestyle and entrepreneurial business climate.

When did it start?
The project began in July 2017 and was officially kicked-off at our 2017 GRCVB Annual Meeting.

Annual meeting 2017Who is leading it?
JLL's Hotels & Hospitality Group. They have also established a Steering Committee comprised of stakeholders from across the county who check in with them monthly to get updates on the plan’s progress and act as a sounding board and advisory group for themes and ideas that they have developed and are considering.

Who are they talking to?
EVERYONE (well, almost). Since the project began, JLL has conducted more than 64 focus groups or interviews. They also received feedback from more than 380 partners in the local hospitality industries through a stakeholder survey and from nearly 1,050 other locals through a resident survey.

Where are we in the process?
Chronologically, the team just passed the halfway point of the work. JLL has completed the bulk of the stakeholder engagement and situational analysis. The next big streams of work are to identify new demand generators and ways to “bundle” existing ones. JLL is also working on implementable recommendations to increase visitor flow across our main channels—conferences and meetings, sports and leisure travelers. The JLL team created a website to track their progress; visit it for more details and updates.

What have we learned so far?
Wake County and Raleigh have a plethora of tourism assets that appeal to a varied audience. The key to meeting our goal of welcoming more visitors and ensuring they will want to come back will be to work as a community to optimize our current assets and be more strategic in our investments. The process has inventoried the assets we have; the next step will be to think strategically around how we should leverage and grow them together.

DSP focus groupWhat is the biggest surprise?
The eagerness to help as well as the passion that everyone has to bring our destination to the next level. It’s not actually a surprise, but a welcome validation, that we all share the vision to enhance and protect Wake County’s quality of place so it’s a place where people will want to visit, work and live.

What are the goals?
The “official” goal is to increase visitation to Wake County to 19.5 million by 2028. The Bureau’s operational goal is to have a strategy that serves as a resource for our stakeholders and partners.

When are we going to know the result?
JLL will present the final report at our 2018 Annual Meeting on August 16. (Save the date!)