- Photos courtesy of Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau
Exploring how the Convention and Visitors Bureau promotes tourism in Columbia and Boone County.
In last month’s issue of COMO, I discussed how tourism has a strong economic impact on Boone County through job creation, money spent during visits at local businesses, and more. When folks visit, they stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants, shop at our stores, buy gas at our gas stations, and spend money in other ways.
And while the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau, or CVB, is 100% funded by a lodging tax, the rest of the money spent in Columbia goes to support our local businesses, jobs, and the quality of life we all enjoy. That is why the CVB team comes to work every day.
This month, I want to talk to you about what the CVB does to help create that economic impact and quality of life.
To start, we view Columbia and Boone County as a tourism product together. This includes shopping, dining, outdoor recreation, festivals and events, sporting events, shopping, arts and culture, history, and anything else that may attract the interest of a potential visitor.
How does the CVB promote Columbia and Boone County as a tourism product? How do we sell an entire community or an experience?
It’s not quite like selling a tangible good, but we still put out a product in the view of our potential customers as much as possible. Sales, marketing, public relations, and working with our industry partners all come into play when promoting Columbia.
Our sales team travels the state, the region, and the nation making sales calls and attending trade shows where they build relationships with professionals who plan meetings and conferences. The CVB also has a sports salesperson whose entire job is to concentrate on bringing youth and amateur sporting events to Columbia.
Baseball, soccer, and basketball are some sports that you are probably used to hearing about, but there are a lot of other competitive sports like disc golf, rugby, archery, and pickleball that attract visitation to our community.
If you’ve ever traveled to a professional conference or your child’s sporting event, there was likely a CVB or tourism department involved in getting that event located in the destination you visited. And the money you spent on that trip went right back into the local community you were visiting.
We also do a lot of targeted marketing throughout the country. Most of our marketing starts 50 miles outside of Columbia and reaches throughout the state, region, and SEC cities as well as Denver, Dallas, and Chicago. Our “Meet CoMo” campaign features Columbia locals talking about why they love our community.
I know that when I travel somewhere, I want to hear what locals think!
We also work with writers throughout the United States. They may focus on travel, food, movies (think True/False), music (like Roots N Blues), the outdoors, and other subjects that may attract potential visitors. We host these writers and highlight everything that makes Columbia a wonderful destination. The coverage our destination receives after hosting writers is extremely valuable because it has the objective opinion of an expert and creates awareness among people who may not know about Columbia.
Every day at the CVB is something new and exciting, and the best part of our jobs is the ability to tell Columbia’s story to someone new and make them want to visit us.
Now you’re probably asking yourself, “Amy, how can I get involved in tourism in our area?”
First, it’s up to the entire community to help give our visitors a warm welcome while they’re here so they want to come back. That’s easy enough, right? But it’s just a start.
Next month, I’ll tell you more about how important you are to the success of tourism and how you can get involved in promoting our destination.