Duluth tourism is open for business, just as beforeDuluth tourism is open for business. The visitor experience is as accessible, safe and intact as ever. That's the message Visit Duluth began trumpeting as soon as widespread flashflood “do not travel” warnings were lifted June 21.
By: Terry Mattson, Duluth Budgeteer News
Duluth tourism is open for business. The visitor experience is as accessible, safe and intact as ever. That's the message Visit Duluth began trumpeting as soon as widespread flashflood “do not travel” warnings were lifted June 21.
As the skies began to clear, our organization was a full day into proactively executing the response plan. We began reaching out to stakeholders, community leaders, visitors and the media, before epic rains had even stopped.
Two weeks ago Mother Nature brought summer to the Northland with a splash. Our strategies to overcome misperceptions haven’t let up. These efforts have led to hundreds of positive news stories through scores of personal media interviews. Immediately, there were Facebook posts positively reinforcing our messages. From social media to travel information at www.visitduluth.com and revised ad plans, it’s all seamlessly coordinated to ensure that tourism's $780-million direct benefit stays healthy.
We’ve also quickly put together an even broader integrated marketing campaign, including television, with the help of additional funding from the City of Duluth and major stakeholders. A social media vendor has been retained to sharpen that element of the advertising as budgets are leveraged throughout the Midwest.
Initially, our focus was on pivoting the warnings against travel, as soon as safely possible. No easy task, as sensational images of disaster saturated every medium across the nation. As soon as travel was open we countered misperceptions of a city washed into Lake Superior. While not diminishing the losses experienced by neighborhoods, families and residential pockets, a tourism downturn would only worsen burdens.
Telephone calls and e-mails to our travel counselors with concerns and advice exploded exponentially, placing huge demands on our staff during its busiest time of the year. Everyone should be commended. Just coming off of Grandma's Marathon while focusing on producing Minnesota's largest fireworks
display was no time for a weather event, let alone a potential tourism disaster.
Amazing support came from Mayor Don Ness, city council president Dan Hartman, state senator Roger Reinert, Governor Mark Dayton and Explore Minnesota Tourism's John Edman, to name a few. Visit Duluth board chair Karen Pionk has been amazing throughout the process, and her volunteerism is worthy of applause.
At risk are millions of dollars from visitors contemplating their stay in Duluth because they have seen only pockets of damage. Our goal is to fully counter misperceptions with the reality that Duluth tourism is complete, summer is on, and you can beat the heat in Duluth!
Visit Duluth continues to diligently execute strategies across several types of media and online channels. We will prevail. Please help us spread the word that Duluth's visitor areas and our special events, along with everything travelers love about Duluth, is as good as ever!
Terry Mattson is the president and CEO of Visit Duluth, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, and is responsible for leading the
official destination marketing efforts. Contact Mattson by telephone at 722-4011 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.