In the past any discussion of bringing out-of-town guests into our city, seemed to focus on conventions or sports. Some of the conventions I’ve seen come through Knoxville while I’ve lived downtown have been great successes, flooding our downtown streets with a varying population depending on the particular convention.
I’ve written about a number of these and I’ve particularly enjoyed those like the Destination Imagination group which brings so many young people and families. At least once a quilters convention brought hundreds of lovely women who stayed quite a long time. Sometimes the conventions have attracted a more technically minded audience and the result has been many languages spoken on the streets downtown, which is something I would love to hear more.
Still, the sense was that something was missing. With yesterday’s launch, Visit Knoxville is making an attempt to address that missing component. While many people, no doubt, visit the city for particular events or weekend getaways, the feeling is the potential exists for encouraging a significant increase in this type of tourism. With the amazing events held in the city throughout the year including the Dogwood Arts Festival with events for several consecutive weekends, the increased outdoor opportunities available through the urban wilderness project and Outdoor Knoxville and the standard attractions of UT sports and a pretty cool little downtown, we’ve got a lot to promote.
The campaign, introduced at the Regal Riviera, included a lineup of the most powerful people in the city, some of the most well connected and a few hundred other interested observers including myself and my crack assistant, Urban Girl, who dug the popcorn and didn’t care much one way or the other about the rest of the event. The theater, filled beyond capacity, included large numbers left standing.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Burchett spoke and the audience included Bill Lyons, Finbarr Saunders, Congresswoman Massey, Charlie Tombras and many others. Visit Knoxville President Kim Bumpas spoke first, thanking those present and the many people who helped put the campaign together. Her enthusiasm and approachable manner set a welcome tone to the event.
Two different representatives of the Tombras Group set the stage for the videos which included the launch video, but also two videos which will be the television and web spots promoted by the campaign. The overarching focus is on building memories and the slogan for the campaign is “Visit Knoxville . . . the Memories Stay With You.” Each video emphasizes a different type of visit to the city, with one focusing on an urban getaway and nightlife, while the other focuses on outdoor activities like those offered by Outdoor Knoxville.
The campaign addressed research completed by the Tombras Group which indicated “low awareness of Knoxville as a place to visit for leisure travel was impeding tourism growth. However, research also showed that once people visited Knoxville, they fell in love with our blend of Southern hospitality, urban wilderness and abundance of cultural and sporting activities all within minutes of our revitalized downtown core.”
That sounds accurate to me. I don’t think the word about Knoxville as a great place to spend a weekend or a few days has gotten out beyond our borders. When people in our region think of a long weekend, I would guess we currently fall behind Asheville and Nashville and, probably, Chattanooga. Hopefully, this campaign will bring some of these dollars into our hotels, restaurants and businesses.
I’ve included the launch video below which is basically the two ads rolled into one longer video incorporating both the outdoor activities as well as the more urban opportunities. What do you think?