Cleveland's tourism bureau is pulling out the stops in making the city more marketable as a travel destination. Ideastream's Bill Rice reports part of the plan is changing the attitude of LOCALS toward their city.
Positively Cleveland, as the agency is called, has spent the last year researching how best to attract events and visitors. And it's learned a lot, says David Gilbert, the group's president. He says the city has a lot of momentum, with 2 billion dollars worth of visitor-related development in the city. A good chunk of that investment, including the Horseshoe casino and Greater Cleveland Aquarium, was completed in 2012, there are more openings on the horizon this year and next.
But Gilbert says amenities aren't going to sell themselves, and Positively Cleveland is turning its attention to making better ambassadors of local residents.
GILBERT: "By far the three most important piece s of information that people use to make a decision on where to travel are the internet - kind of no surprise. But number two was a referral from someone who recently visited, and number three was a referral from someone who lives there. As we get into talking about perceptions, the perception of locals about our own community is not very good."
The group is launching what it calls CLE Travelbackers - two-session training program for those who deal directly with the traveling public. And It's imploring ALL local residents to take more pride in the city.
Other initiatives include improving the city experience for visitors, making it easier and more pleasant to navigate between amenities. Gilbert says improving the product is just as important as improving the marketing.
Gilbert made his remarks at positively Cleveland's annual meeting and luncheon in downtown Cleveland. Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cavs and the Horseshoe Casino, was a guest speaker at the event.