• UMCVB 2017
The Upper Midwest Convention & Visitors Bureau conference has me crossing the state of Iowa with my sights set on Dubuque. Having not been to Dubuque since childhood, I honestly had no expectations of the location, but knowing the crew at Travel Dubuque I knew it was going to hit the ball out of the park…
And they did! Our opening ceremony was held at the Field of Dreams movie site. I loved the movie and was very excited to stand on home plate. Being a bit of a farm girl, I wasn't expecting to become so emotionally enthralled as I did when the ‘Ghost Players’ took the field as the sun set amidst the corn. That surreal moment will live forever in my mind. You couldn’t have asked for a more perfect late-summer evening.
Three breakout sessions times were available with CEO, Sales, Marketing, and Sports/Events tracks to choose from. I sat in on Jack Johnson’s CEO Track session, “Destination Next.” Johnson stated, “Our industry has changed more rapidly than any other except maybe the music industry.” He suggested three-year plans are the new five-year plans due to this factor and talked on a few points; more video content, taking an active role in politics, and creating authentic experiences in your locations.
Bill Baker of Total Destination Marketing spoke on “The Essentials for a Successful Small City Brand.” In Baker’s words, “Branding is about prioritization,” and he spoke on how to ‘cut through the noise’ that surrounds us in our social media driven society. One of the overall points was logos, taglines, and campaigns are not your brand, they only convey it. Your brand is the emotional feeling a person gets from the thought of your destination. (For more on this and other topics discussed at UMCVB 2017 go to http://umcvb.com/_presentations/ )
During lunch, it was time for awards! The announcement of the new Bill Geist Up & Coming Hospitality Leader Award marked the celebration of the 20th Anniversary. Cheryl Osborne of Henry County, IL was granted the Cole Carley Scholarship which allowed her to attend UMCVB 2017. The McDaniel Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Lisa Burke of North Platte, NE and after a presentation of all nine McDaniel Innovation Award nominees, Go Cedar Rapids walked away with the trophy for their Mobile Passport Program. It was really wonderful to hear more about each nominee, there is a lot of engaging and diverse work being done in communities across the Midwest. This year voting took place live via the sli.do app, which was a great interactive addition to the ceremonies.
“Stop Setting Your Money on Fire” was the title of Steve Maly’s, of Maly Marketing, session. Maly touched on advertising placement and how most individuals “stumble” upon advertising rather than actively look it up, however, through analytics it can be seen that 91% of decisions start online, with ads in print driving to direct website searches. By building your own online eco-system, you establish a community of soft commitments; i.e. likes, shares, retweets, from those who are likely to become potential clients.
All of that knowledge packed into one afternoon and yet the day wasn’t over. Travel Dubuque treated attendees to local tours. The options of Historic Main Street, the Millwork District, or the Port of Dubuque had us separating to either walk the riverfront or enjoy a trolley ride. As the tours ended, we gathered at the Port of Dubuque to board the American Lady yacht for a Mississippi River cruise that took us to the lock and dam and back.
I greatly enjoyed my time at UMCVB 2017, seeing friends and making new acquaintances. I will have to return to Dubuque because there are still items on my bucket list to accomplish there. UMCVB 2018 will take us to The Grand Geneva Resort in Lake Geneva, WI - I hope to see you all there!