Opinion: Growing community pride will help to increase Grand Junction tourism
Free Press Opinion Columnist
“So glad we found you for bicycling and camping!” signed in the Grand Junction Visitor Center’s notebook by guests from Spring Valley, Calif. on Sept. 25. “Beautiful, gracious town!” signed a traveling couple from South Glastonbury, Conn. on the same day. In my role marketing the Grand Valley I see the love for our area on a daily basis from visitors. My question to you is how can we grow our local community pride?
The recent North Star Understanding & Insights presentation, research commissioned by the Economic Development partners in Grand Junction, references a perceived lack of community pride in their research. Add to this recent complaints of trash and graffiti on our public lands and one out-of-state blogger (who admittedly never visited our valley) who posted a story claiming Grand Junction, along with other western Colorado towns, were some of the worst places to live in Colorado. What’s worse than the post? How the story went viral within our own community and gave that blogger his 15 minutes of fame. How can we shift the conversation?
It’s time to expand our collective voice in pride for our warm, and welcoming, town that is full of amazing activities and amenities. The shift can all start by talking to tourists. Challenge yourself to share one thing that you love about our community with every visitor you meet. It is amazing how passion can be demonstrated through tone of voice or body language when sharing stories. What will one conversation do, you ask. Your conversation may lead to one more night’s stay, one more meal, one more shopping excursion or one more trip back to Grand Junction before the end of the year. The little things in tourism add up in a big way that reaches beyond the tourism industry. Influencing a visitor’s stay is just one way in which you can positively impact our local economy and perception of our community.
Now, I will be the first to thank our local Grand Valley cheerleaders. Cruise social media and look up the hashtags #shareGJ or #whywelivehere. I know we are out there, but there needs to be more of us shouting our community pride from the mountaintops. Let’s put a stop to the “Grand Junktown” or “Grand Junkyard” references. No more.
“Love this town!” signed at the Visitor Center by three people from Mitchell, S.D. on Sept. 24. If your community pride ever needs a boost, please come look at the notebook at the Visitor Center on Horizon Drive or browse TripAdvisor reviews to remind yourself that our area’s visitors are over the moon in love with Grand Junction and we should be too. There is a reason we love, live and work here! So share it.
On a side note, the Visitor & Convention Bureau is conducting a year-long visitor intercept study that will eventually be included in an economic impact study. Two hard working research assistants are out talking to visitors to collect emails and zip codes so that we can send them a survey. If you would like them to survey at your business, or if perhaps you can email the survey to your customers on our behalf, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Knowing visitor profiles will help us all market to our customers more effectively.
Mistalynn Meyeraan is the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, a division of the City of Grand Junction. Native to western Colorado, she began her marketing career at a newspaper in Arizona and found her calling in tourism while working the ski and bike resort industry in Colorado. The Grand Valley became home in 2012. Meyeraan is passionate about creative marketing techniques and partnerships, traveling and outdoor activities. You can reach her at email@example.com or 970-244-1480. To learn more about the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, visit http://www.visitgrandjunction.com.
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