GRAND RAPIDS — Unique events planned for this fall in Grand Rapids spurred the local travel bureau to launch a new marketing campaign designed to lure visitors to town.
The Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau hopes to boost the local travel trade by leveraging interest in events like the upcoming Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Lincoln exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and the opening of the IMAX Theatre on East Beltline Avenue.
The campaign is the first the bureau has ever undertaken to promote fall tourism locally following the busy summer travel season.
“Fall is a time of year with plenty of potential for us,” bureau President Steve Wilson said. “We see fall as being a big opportunity.”
Perhaps even bigger with the upcoming special events planned for this fall.
Wanting to build on those events, the bureau secured $10,000 in contributions from area attractions and hotels, matched it with $8,300 of its own funds, and developed its “Harvest Holidays” campaign.
The campaign consists of print ads in a suburban Chicago newspaper, AAA Michigan’s monthly Michigan Living magazine, and Booth Newspapers’ daily papers across Michigan, as well as radio spots in Traverse City, Detroit, Flint and Ann Arbor. The bureau is also distributing 10,000 Harvest Holidays brochures to potential travelers from Chicago to northwest Michigan, and 10 local hotels are offering special package rates as part of the promotion.
Given the potential of the events occurring this fall, the bureau felt a need to develop a fall campaign, said Barbara Kravitz, the bureau’s director of communications.
“We had so much going on here. We had to do something,” Kravitz said. “We are feeling that we’ve got such outstanding things coming this fall. The thinking is that these are things people will want to see.”
The bureau, representing about 400 travel-related businesses, will try to gauge the effectiveness of the campaign and, if it’s proven successful, will consider doing it again in 2002 and perhaps on a permanent basis.
“We’ll try it out this year and see how this goes,” Kravitz said. “If it does well, we’ll do it again.”
Joining the regularly planned fall and holiday events this year are the opening in mid-November of the IMAX Theatre at Celebration! Village at East Beltline and Knapp Street, the Frank Lloyd Wright exhibit at the Grand Rapids Art Museum that opens Oct. 12 with Grand Rapids as the nationwide tour’s only Midwestern stop, and the “Lincoln: A Personal Journey” exhibit at the Gerald R. Ford Museum that runs Oct. 12 through Feb. 18.
The Grand Rapids/Kent County Convention & Visitors Bureau’s decision to prepare a fall promotion was coincidental to Travel Michigan’s initial plan to drop its annual post-summer tourism campaign in the wake of a tight budget and rising television ad rates in target markets, Kravitz said.
Travel Michigan, the state agency responsible for promoting Michigan’s $10 billion tourism industry, has since revised its budget and plans to do a small campaign this year with print ads targeting Chicago, Cleveland and Green Bay, Media Relations Manager Cindy Snyder said.
The Grand Rapids campaign will help to reinforce Travel Michigan’s efforts, Snyder said.
“It’s all an issue of awareness,” Snyder said.