Teamwork Key To Boosting Tourism

September 5, 2003
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“Michigan’s West Coast” tourism campaign has proven to be a determined project and one providing determined result, the latter being born of the consultant’s educated experience in such matters. The campaign to date is but a toe in the water, and its ripple effect is yet to be seen. Capturing the potential also should capture the active involvement of the lakeshore tourism bureaus.

It is not insignificant to point out the campaign has achieved the stated objectives or to underscore the report that its Web site handled more than 1.3 million hits. The campaign was conceived as a cooperative partnership between the varied lakeshore tourism and visitors bureaus and the Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau, a plan that proved stronger than its weakest links. The true measure of its success is and will be the response of visitors, not those bureaus still standing indecisively on the shore.

The campaign was designed to be inclusive and is so with or without the lakeshore bureaus. The success in drawing visitors to the entire region is its strength, with or without lakeshore representation.

The bureau has booked conventions through June of next year at this critical hour, and its West Coast campaign will influence where some of those convention dollars are spent, likely flowing over to the lakeshore as well as the immediate vicinity of downtown Grand Rapids. The campaign launched this year is only a piece of the bigger picture to be afforded the region. Meanwhile, the lakeshore bureaus’ continued indecision in joining in a partnership is as shortsighted as it is frustrating. Pooling public and private funds for greater return is a no-brainer, one not lost of the lakeshore businesses choosing to participate in the promotions, with or without their hometown bureaus. One can begin to imagine the revenue to be gained should the lakeshore groups begin to contemplate the additional dollars to be brought by enticing convention guests into a 30-minute drive.

Comments from convention planners hosted by the bureau certainly offer proof that inclusivity is enhancing the draw. Travel writers and planners cited the diversity of things to do as a result of the bureau taking them on excursions to Holland, Grand Haven and Muskegon.

The convention manager for the American Business Women’s Association offered words that provide the glue for the partnership: “I really like the city. I was so impressed. I really can’t pick out one thing. I really like the water, so I loved the beach and Lake Michigan. … We have a variety of members and we have to have lots of things for them to do.”

The bureau has 83 conventions booked, which is estimated to be a direct deposit of $35 million in new dollars for this region. Each convention averages 2,140 delegates. Teamwork and celebration of all this region offers will only enhance the numbers already posted.   

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