Every year at IPW, there are some half dozen or less news conferences at which a leading destination or host city makes its pitch, introduces a new slogan (developed after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars conducting survey research and analysis, talking to focus groups and working with branding consultants) and persuades trade and consumer journalists to write or talk about them.
And for the next 51 weeks, until the next IPW, the result is the same: New York City sets another record for international visitors (it was 12.7 million last year), room nights booked by international visitors and number of polls and surveys abroad as it ranks as the top USA destination and one of the tops in the world.
At this year’s IPW, New York City’s marketing arm, New York City & Company and its president and CEO, Fred Dixon, made the task of any other U.S. destination that is trying to move a little closer to the city and its standing as the favored U.S. international destination more challenging. He presented his summary of what’s new in the nation’s largest city a different kind of discussion by making a brief stop in each of the New York’s five boroughs—emphasizing that the city of nearly 8.5 million comprises four boroughs besides Manhattan—with a special emphasis on Brooklyn. He underscored the emphasis by pointing out that Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce who also heads up Explore Brooklyn, was in the room, right up front. Scissura stayed around well beyond the conclusion of the news conference, talking to journalists and exchanging business cards with others.
Dixon used variations of “hip” and “happening” to describe the borough. In fact—Inbound gathered a few numbers to illustrate the point—were Brooklyn a city on its own (which it was until the latter part of the 19th century when it merged, along with State Island, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan to become New York City), it would be the fourth largest city in the United States.
Five Largest Cities in the USA
- NYC (without Brooklyn): 5.890 million
- Los Angeles: 3.929 million
- Chicago: 2.722 million
- Brooklyn: 2.592 million
- Houston: 2.239 million
Source(s): infoplease.com, Wikipedia
(In fact, there are neighborhoods in Brooklyn that are larger in population than this year’s host city of New Orleans.)
If there is any caveat or, possibly, danger in the new emphasis on Brooklyn, it lies in a reality that U.S.-based receptive tour operators have already become aware of: Brooklyn’s hotels are nearly expensive as those in Manhattan. Next stop, Queens.
The Destination Video Blahs: Following what seemed liked back-to-back-to-back-to-back news conferences by destinations that included New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Las Vegas, as well as Brand USA, the Inbound Report’s editor and other journalists came to the conclusion that, somewhere in a warehouse on the outskirts of a Midwestern city—the location chosen because of its low overhead costs—there is a DVD (Destination Video Distributor) specialist that produced all of the videos that we watched on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at IPW because they all had: the same World Beat sound track comprising synthesized sounds and percussion; the same stop-action and fade-to-the-next-scene imagery; the same voices that are used for “on-sale” commercials; the same cute couples dancing, shopping or visiting a museum; and the same cute families playing at the beach or visiting a theme park. And, before showing their video inserts, all of them stuck pretty much to the same script, introducing the presentation with the words, “We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get right to it.”
Everyone except Las Vegas. The Las Vegas CVA used its time—just after Tuesday’s luncheon—and did something different. It was a conference-room sized circus: there were no videos or presentations, but there were female actors dressed a light attendants handing out tickets to its aerial show in a small dome, hors d’oeuvres, small toy-like demos, free booze and a gift bag filled with tchotchkes upon departure. The journalists loved it.
We asked Rafael Villanueva, the Las Vegas CVA’s senior director, international sales, why there was a departure from the conventional news conference. “Because there’s just too much to tell,” he explained. “So, we decided to show what we could.” Since much of the bureau’s large international team was on hand, they were able to answer on-spot any questions, take cards and prepare for follow-up contact with the journalists who attended. For those journalists who depended upon the canned content that so many journalists rely on in order to write and file their stories, there was the obligatory flash drive in the gift bag that had more than the average journalist could write or the average traveler read. Watch for the Las Vegas non-conference news conference model to spread to other destinations in the future.