By Ryan Laffler, Account Manager
It is like a war – each morning, soldiers leave the comfort of their beds, don their uniforms, and rush onto the battlefield armed with their cellphones, a fresh cup of coffee, and the occasional midmorning snack. One by one, the soldiers make their way to the frontlines and begin fighting for the upper hand on their opponents. On Main Street, USA, one can barely walk a block without being overwhelmed by the fiery glow of neon lights, the dazzling display of sign-spinners, or the sound of special offers whizzing by one’s ears. In the battle for Main Street, it is a seemingly endless war between local businesses fighting for the attention of the consumers – but it does not have to be that way.
The Travel Industry Association predicted a 8% fall in daily expenditures by tourists in North Carolina. Our budgets, based on retail tax, needed to counteract this. One of Cherokee’s many assets is its abundance of restaurants, shops, and attractions. We wanted to develop a marketing tactic that would increase traffic from one store to another in a fun, brand-centric, and memorable way. The result: the Passport Program.
Here’s how it works:
- Reach out to local businesses and offer them an opportunity to be listed in a Visitor's Guide for a small, annually recurring fee.
- Create a pocket-sized self-folding map with participating merchants/attractions and businesses on one side and the Cultural Story on the other.
- Make the maps available at all participating merchants in counter displays, window displays, and logo decals.
Not only did the Passport Program succeed in stemming the 8% state decline, but it also became a memorable souvenir. The program has since become one of our premier Cultural Tourism services that can even be converted into a mobile application!
What’s most compelling is how successful local businesses can be when they are unified. The Passport Program doesn’t just help destinations; it emboldens communities and reinforces the brand.