Your City, Your Business: Visit Duluth gives itself a makeover

Duluth's only official destination marketing organization is giving itself a makeover. Along with a new name, new logo and new look, we've moved our headquarters and visitor center from Endion Station in Canal Park to Lake Superior Place, 21 W. S...

Duluth's only official destination marketing organization is giving itself a makeover. Along with a new name, new logo and new look, we've moved our headquarters and visitor center from Endion Station in Canal Park to Lake Superior Place, 21 W. Superior St. Suite 100.

In order to continue to increase tourism in Duluth and enhance our 450-member strong association, the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau has changed its name to Visit Duluth. You'll be hearing a lot more about Visit Duluth (VISD -- pronounced Viz-Dee for short), as we complete plans for launching several new brand identity improvements that represent our organization's forward thinking and speak to our core mission.

Allow me the opportunity to explain. When most people think of branding, they think of products, not destinations. However, Duluth is our product. Selling Duluth is about selling an experience. It's about developing a brand to which consumers feel an emotional attachment and yearn to visit again and again. National research-based marketing tells us that branding yields increased tourism traffic, increased spending, longer stays and a higher return on investment.

Visit Duluth continually performs its own extensive research to identify Duluth's target tourism market and the specific interests of its visitors. The purpose of this research is to hone in on our ideal consumers and closely match their interests to the inherent characteristics of the Duluth experience. Our research has revealed that the term "convention bureau" is confusing to many people in our target market and may not be in step with current marketing trends.

Here is a little history. In 1935, the Duluth Publicity Bureau, Inc. was founded as an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the area's recreational and climatic advantages. In 1969, the Duluth hospitality community stepped even further forward by voluntarily taxing itself to promote the city. With that vision and spirit, city tax revenues began to flourish. A year later, the Publicity Bureau began doing business as the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau.


This year, the Duluth Convention and Visitors Bureau will make a bold statement by changing its name to Visit Duluth, a name that resonates a call to action, a call to visit Duluth.

The name Visit Duluth will allow our advertising to stand out and attract more visitors. It will also help us address another challenge facing the local hospitality industry: how to convey to government and residents why the association's members are important to the community and how they contribute positively to the local bottom line.

Visit Duluth is a revenue generator for the city of Duluth and its residents. The new name is a more contemporary reflection of what we represent. It eliminates the confusion of the "convention bureau" name and mission while connoting a less governmental, less bureaucratic association that better encompasses the entire destination marketing community.

Visit Duluth is the primary custodian of our destination's image. To be effective, VISD operates with a dominant private sector philosophy. It exists to increase interest and awareness in discretionary or marketable travel to and throughout the Duluth area.

VISD is considered one of the best role models for destination marketing in America. According to the Knight Foundation's Preservation Development initiative, "Visit Duluth can claim the remarkable accomplishment of being the driving force behind 16 years of growth." VISD helps ensure the city's financial base by creating jobs and bringing outside customers to local businesses. The investments are funded by tax revenues from hotel/motel accommodations and food and beverage transactions, as well as private fundraising efforts, membership and cooperative programs. Clearly, it is visitors paying to attract more visitors.

Governed by a 25-member board of directors, VISD is not a private entrepreneur or a government agency. We are proud to be described as having the ability to "turn on a dime," responding proactively to ever-changing market conditions and interacting with our stakeholders in the style of a corporation. Like a corporation, VISD has a public trust, is accountable and transparent. While Visit Duluth represents the community in an official capacity, it does not have some of the constraints prevalent in official bureaucracies.

From sales and marketing to customer service, advocacy and performance measures, Visit Duluth is the tourism industry's trusted partner -- the heart, soul and energy of the destination. It drives economic success and enhances quality of life. The city of Duluth and its citizens appreciate tourism's contributions and the better the destination marketing organization, the more valuable the visitor's experience and the more return business the city experiences.

Duluth is currently at the height of its busiest season. The lake, the outdoors, the romance and the history define Visit Duluth's brand strategies. With knowledge of our core audience and the support of our stakeholders, Visit Duluth will continue serving the community by delivering even more economic impact from visitors to Duluth.

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