The Detroit Convention and Visitors
Bureau's marketing campaign, unveiled late last year amid much
fanfare over an innovative approach to reviving the city's tourism
industry, has begun to pay off, a CVB official said.
"Our unique hits on
our Web site were up 250% in July and up 350% in August, when our
campaign was in full force," said Chris Baum, vice president of
marketing for the CVB and one of the architects of the new
shows that interest in the Web site is coming from visitors who
live an hour or two hours from the city. Travel agents are showing
an interest, too.
"All of our
familiarization trips are fully subscribed," Baum said. "Every one
is full. We're getting strong response from travel agents and
convention bookers, saying they had no idea Detroit was so nice,
that they came with a misconception of the city and that they were
glad to know what is going on here now. Not too many years ago, to
get someone to come on a fam trip here was pretty
renovation in the city's downtown have changed its look and feel. A
recently completed river walk along the Detroit River, where a new
port authority terminal is being built and where Great Lakes
cruises will depart in the future, is drawing residents and
Traffic in the
city's core is up, Baum said, and the opening of the MGM Grand
Detroit and the MotorCity Casino Hotel later this year is expected
to flood the downtown with thousands of gamblers as well as
visitors seeking upscale accommodations. Such development has
spilled over into plans for new downtown retail
Baum said that as a
result of its marketing plan, group leads for the CVB were up 75%
over last year.
"I would have been
extremely happy over a 40% increase in group leads," Baum said.
"But 75% is almost unbelievable, given the already strong sales
staff we have."
campaign targets a young demographic and plays on themes
surrounding the city's vigorous history of music innovation, its
automotive and engineering strengths and a core idea that Detroit
is a unique, "cool" place to visit.
The campaign's back
story is that Detroit has shed its image as a troubled city and
that such perceptions are no longer viable.
Much of that image
stems from past social unrest, poverty amid enormous wealth and
white flight to the surrounding, moneyed suburbs. But that
perception has faded as Detroit has remade itself through
aggressive rebuilding projects, including posh new venues for its
sports teams, new restaurants, theaters and casinos. Residents are
moving back to the city's core.
"There has been a
fantastic response on both the leisure and business travel sides,"
said Baum. "Of course, things are always fraught with the potential
for backlash, for differences of opinion and so many things that
could go wrong. But we have gotten strong support from all fronts
for the campaign, a unified and persistent support coming from
throughout the community."
skeptics among long-term residents, who didn't believe that a
message about a revived Detroit would work, have started to
believe. "Attitudes are starting to change, and there is a shift in
the mind-set among those who now see that there really is a
renaissance occurring here, as promised," Baum said.
contact reporter Dan Luzadder, send e-mail to [email protected].
For more details on this article, see "Detroit to get a little bit of Vegas when the MGM Grand