Q. As a Midwestern city, how do you handle the winters in your sales and marketing efforts?
A. It's always 72 degrees in Indy's hotel- and convention center-connected skywalks. (And I better not see that in a Minneapolis campaign.) We can contract as many as 3,700 rooms peak just in connected hotels. As a result, our January through March convention business is often as robust as our July through September business.
Q. How do you engage partners in marketing the destination and making events successful once they’ve chosen Indianapolis?
A. We have nearly 700 partners and provide them a wide variety of resources to reach and serve convention and leisure customers. Our summer leisure campaign is significantly funded by co-op partners. We also hold town hall type information and training meetings with our partners on how to collectively host a major site inspection, work with leisure tour operators, etc.
In addition to traditional attendance-building tools (electronic images, customizable event web sites, etc.), we have a marketing manager who supports convention services and convention customers with custom attendance-building strategies.
Visit Indy also continues to train hospitality industry employees in our Super Service program, which was originally developed for the 2012 Super Bowl. The program is a joint venture with Indiana University Purdue University - Indianapolis (IUPUI). To date nearly 30,000 people have taken Super Service training.
Q. What developments to your tourism and convention infrastructure are happening or coming soon?
A. Indy is currently developing a Tourism Master Plan which will be rolled out around the second quarter of 2016 (the initial recommendations have already been completed, but with a new mayor and City-County Council being elected in November, the plan will need to be reviewed by these newly elected leaders to align priorities and resources).
Among other things, the plan is looking at future convention center expansion, additional connected hotel development (the most obvious site is a developable outdoor plaza directly east of the center), a 365-day-year experience with the Indy Motor Speedway, and visitor-oriented development of areas along the downtown riverfront.