By Mike Ritchie
Last year I was asked to develop a new high-definition tourism video highlighting the best of the Richmond Region. An updated video is vital to our marketing efforts to attract visitors. Users on the web today are very visually oriented. As the old saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words” and YouTube proves that every day. It’s now the second largest search engine – and travelers use it. Today’s travelers are much savvier than their predecessors. They do their homework before choosing a destination and competition is fierce, so we knew we had to communicate the right message to the right audience in a way they would find appealing.
This project was a tough challenge. Funding is limited, and we knew we couldn’t develop a first-class video with our limited budget. So we sought out partnerships. Turns out our timing was perfect. It just so happened that Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP) and Retail Merchants Association (RMA) also wanted to develop videos. Now we had a team. Together, the three organizations applied for a Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC) grant and received additional funds from their Marketing Leverage Grant Fund program. Through this first-time-ever partnership, we each had the ability to produce a series of top-quality videos for our different audiences.
With partners and funding in place, we were finally ready to begin the fun part, the video production. The nationally recognized creative talent in the Richmond Region gave us no need to look outside of our own backyard. Production? Done. Award-winning local production company The Branching would shoot and edit the footage. Music? Check. The original score for each video would be created by Bill Grishaw. Script? Only the best. Copywriter Maryann Neary-Gill wrote about the area as only a local could. Her creative concept brought to life what research had told us. People don’t want to just see brick and mortar, they want to see experiences.
And based on the feedback we’ve been getting, it looks like we’ve been successful. There has been lots of positive buzz and great media coverage over the last few weeks.
Our 3.5 minute tourism video, which launched in February, is the first in a series of three. The next two videos will target travel media, meeting planners, sports event organizers and group tour operators. The videos will appear on websites and social media. You can see the tourism video and lots of others we’ve produced on our VisitRichmond YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/visitrichmond.
I hear people all the time asking “why is tourism so important?” I guess the best way to answer that is to describe tourism as the invisible 800 lb. gorilla. Even in a difficult economy, tourism is a growth industry. Tourism supports nearly 20,000 jobs in the Richmond Region, and in 2010 generated nearly $1.8 billion in local spending. Tourism isn’t something you can “see,” because unless they are holding a map, visitors are tricky to spot. But it is all around us. Every restaurant, store, museum and attraction in this place we call home is part of the tourism industry. And as citizens, so are we. That’s kinda cool when you think about it. Take a minute to watch our video and the next time someone asks you what there is to do in Richmond you’ll have some suggestions.
Mike Ritchie is the eMarketing Manager for the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau. He has worked in the Richmond marketing and advertising community for more than 20 years.