Taking it to the next level

Destination marketing expert urges Fox Cities tourism industry to start with why

Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

With the Fox Cities Exhibition Center set to open in fall, the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau has a lot to celebrate, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to rest.

Pam Seidl, executive director of the FCCVB, has no intention of that. On the organization’s wish list: larger attractions, a more bike- and pedestrian-friendly community, increased domestic and international flight options, greater access to public WI-FI and more sports venues, particularly ones that offer winter and early-spring options.

Bill Geist, the keynote speaker at the FCCVB Tourism Breakfast, would agree with that strategy. He says the Fox Cities is ahead of the curve when it comes to tourism; however, “now is not the time to take your foot off the gas.”

In cultivating an attractive destination, Geist, chief instigator at Zeitgeist Consulting, encourages communities to “start with why.” This is a reference to author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek’s popular book with that title.

“The best corporations, in his research, are the ones that don’t start with what they’re going to do, they start with why they’re going to do it,” Geist says.

To illustrate his example, Geist contrasts Dell, which builds great computers, with late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs, who wanted to change the world. Jobs, Geist says, started with why. He let that drive the “how” of building “elegant, easy-to-use machines” and the “what” of selling iPhones and iPads.

People are lot more likely to say yes when you start with why, Geist says, and organizations like the FCCVB should employ a similar strategy, first identifying objectives like enhancing quality of life and bringing in new revenue.

“It’s not just heads in beds,” he says. “We fill rooms by all the things we do to welcome people to the Fox Cities.”

Tourism, Geist says, is also key in drawing new residents to the community. To woo sought-after millennials to settle in the region, we need to get them to visit first. Once people come, he says, they start to see themselves here.

Geist says millennials are the most mobile generation in history, but by their 30s, most are ready to settle in a place. It’s vital to get them to visit here when they’re still in their 20s or the area won’t make it into consideration. “We want to be on that list,” he says. “We have to be on that list.”

The visit is essential, Geist says, and it leads to a place where people want to live and work. This leads to attracting businesses, which in turn generates more visitors.

When the region does bring those visitors, Geist says, it’s important to pay attention to details like focusing on customer service and keeping facilities updated.

In the end, though, Geist advocates for building with the community’s needs in mind. “You don’t build a destination by building it for the visitor,” he says. “You build it for yourself, and then with an eye to how cool you can make it, they will come running because it will attract them.”