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FALL 2012 SPECIAL REPORT 2013

THE REGION’S BUSINESS MAGAZINE

WHY THE WORLD

VISITS TUCSON NEW BRAND

FOR REGION’S $2.4 BILLION TOURISM INDUSTRY www.BizTucson.com


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Free Yourself COVER PHOTO & PHOTO: WILLIAM LESCH

The ability to see ourselves as others see us is a rare gift, the poet Robert Burns observed. But a good marketing firm can provide its clients with that information. MMGY Global, the agency tasked with creating a new brand for Tucson and Southern Arizona, let us view the outsider’s perspective. Better yet, they used it to create an identity that mirrors the way we see ourselves. “MMGY approached Tucson with an open viewpoint. They listened and learned,” said Kate Jensen, University of Arizona assistant VP for marketing. “The way they described Tucson is the way we feel about the city at the University of Arizona – unpretentious, open-minded and authentic.” From the echoing nods and murmurs, it was clear that the key assets of the brand MMGY presented at the Visit Tucson offices in April – to be fleshed out by June 13 – resonated with others too. That in itself is a rare gift, considering the diverse

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business interests and political views represented around the room. Bit of a Mystery No question. Tucson has what it takes to be a visitor magnet – warm dry weather, heart-stopping sunsets, boundless desert and mountain playscapes, cultural clout, science-geek cred, the most authentic Mexican food north of the border… and that’s just for starters. Yet we are consistently outflanked by competing cities – and not only because they have substantially higher budgets to promote their destination than we do (see “The Importance of Support” sidebar page 76). It was essential to find out why. Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson, said, “The tourism industry has an enormous impact on Tucson and Southern Arizona. It employs nearly 22,000 in Pima County


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and generates more than $2 billion annually in direct travel spending.” He added, “The bed- and sales-tax revenue paid by travelers goes to municipal, county and state coffers and helps to pay for government services for all of us.” In spite of the importance of tourism to the community, the community has not always been as involved as it could have been in tourism decisions. That changed in 2010-2011, when the Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau – as Visit Tucson was formerly known – underwent a performance audit. Tom Tracy, an influential member of Pima County Audit Committee, said one of the primary recommendations was that the tourism bureau go through a rebranding process – with lots of local input. “The new leadership on the board of MTCVB was very responsive to the findings,” Tracy said. “Brent got his team to

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By Edie Jarolim

adopt the recommendations of the audit and did so in an extremely transparent manner. His approach was ‘we’re partners – and we want your feedback,’ ” said Brian Johnson, managing director of Loews Ventana Canyon, who chaired the audit committee, then served on the committee that selected MMGY. The selection committee assembled in late 2012 “was a who’s who of hospitality,” he said. It included tourism, sports, economic development and marketing industry professionals. A call for proposals was issued. Destination marketing agencies from across the nation, including several from Tucson and Southern Arizona, submitted plans. From these, the committee selected four top candidates to come to Tucson. MMGY Global was the unanimous final choice. UA’s Jensen was on the selection committee. “This was a very formal process,” she said. “There were strict grading criteria. All the firms we interviewed had expertise in branding and continued on page 76 >>>

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BizFACTS The Importance of Support Tucson has a great new brand to promote – but it will take money to implement it effectively. We come up short against our top competitors whose budgets are millions higher than ours.

• Santa Fe $13 million • Phoenix $12.6 million • Scottsdale $12 million • Palm Springs $7.8 million • Tucson $6.5 million* * Down from $10 million before the recession Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson, said, “It is our job at Visit Tucson to secure the resources needed to push out our new advertising campaign. We are working with our public-sector partners and the private sector to find additional revenue to place our advertising frequently to targeted customers.” Luckily, Visit Tucson has partners like Pima County, the City of Tucson and the Town of Oro Valley, who understand the importance of supporting tourism – and visitors bureaus. Oro Valley made a three-year financial commitment to Visit Tucson – $75,000 in this first fiscal year, $120,000 for the following year, $175,000 for the third. Greg Caton, Oro Valley town manager, said, “We recognize the return on the dollars spent. Unfortunately, when there’s a recession, one of the first things people do is cut back on their advertising and marketing. We need to be more bullish and invest.” Caton sees the partnership with Visit Tucson as hugely beneficial. “Lynn Erickson, the general manager of the Hilton El Conquistador, for example, tells me how many rooms he gets from Visit Tucson. It’s a significant portion of their business.” Visit Tucson also helped with branding the town’s new aquatic center, and with landing an event for it that will have a significant impact on Oro Valley’s economy – the 2014 national synchronized swimming competition.

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Michael Luria, Board Chairman, Visit Tucson continued from page 75 –

Tourism bureau budgets in 2013 • San Antonio $20 million

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The brand we’re creating for Tucson and Southern Arizona captures the essence of the region. marketing for tourism – but MMGY was the clear leader.” One of the clinchers was the firm’s proprietary Portrait of American Traveler Survey, which has served as an important tool for travel marketers for more than two decades. Jensen said, “By choosing MMGY, we were getting access to industry data that we would not otherwise have been able to afford.” Another of the agency’s strengths is its use of destination-specific data. As Steve Cohen, VP of insights at MMGY, put it, “Instead of aiming a tourism campaign at what we think people want, we address actual statistics.” This targeted approach is essential for a visitors bureau with budget limitations. Allison Cooper, VP of marketing for Visit Tucson said, “We can’t work harder, so we have to work smarter.” Getting to Know Us In January 2013, the MMGY team met with more than 100 Tucson stakeholders, some of them in one-on-one sessions, some in groups. Tracy, who took part in a group session as president of The Lodging Company, said the broadest definition imaginable for the term “stakeholder” was used. “It ran the gamut of people who serve the visitor industry in Southern Arizona, from motor coach operators to restaurant managers,” Tracy said. “People from law firms, the retail industry, the university, elected officials… virtually every aspect of the community was represented.” Cooper helped MMGY locate the stakeholders who wanted to participate in the process – but then the visitors bureau stepped aside. Chris Davidson, MMGY’s executive VP of global strategy and client leadership, said, “We wanted this to be a candid forum, to learn not only what makes the place special but also what the hurdles to visitation are. We don’t want people to think they have to say ‘the right thing’ for the CVB.” Tracy said his group discussion “was thought provoking and very well done.” He added, “This is the first time community focus groups were used to find out about local perceptions of the market. That was a major theme in the Pima County audit and I personally am very gratified at seeing the process that was undertaken.” More local feedback was gathered from a Residents/Advocates Open Survey posted on VisitTucson.org and completed by 331 residents and 97 non-residents. During their visit in January, members of the MMGY team also formed their own impressions of the city by doing what visitors do – only more of it and faster. The Way Others See Us In April, MMGY returned to Tucson to share the results of their research. In addition to the local stakeholder interviews and the online survey, this research included an analysis and profile of prospective visitors – continued on page 79 >>>


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If We Build It, They Will Come By Edie Jarolim “I think cities often tragically misinterpret what’s coolest about themselves,” wrote Anthony Bourdain, a chef, author and TV personality known for visiting a lot of cool cities. “They scramble for cure-alls, something that will ‘attract business’ and always one convention center, pedestrian mall or restaurant district away from revival. They miss their biggest, best and probably most marketable asset – their unique and slightly off center character.” That’s certainly been true of Tucson – and recognizing this is an important first step. We still face the challenge of conveying our unique and slightly off-center character to others. MMGY Global provided the tools to do that – a brand architecture that can be used to build everything from logos, ad copy and on-target messaging to a full-blown advertising campaign. To use another metaphor, think of it as a filter through which to view our assets. Take, for example, the phrases in the brand experience column of the brand architecture chart: • “Freedom to roam” taps into the facts that we are a cycling mecca, have an extensive hiking and trail system, offer challenging rock climbing. Even golf fits into that picture, when you think about roaming the greens in a cart.

• “Surroundings that surround you” is a way to approach resorts that are built into nature. • “Open minds” suggests everything from our roles as university town and progressive arts community to geotourism attractions such as stargazing and attracting innovative thinkers. Then there’s the brand voice: • Using terms like “offbeat” keys into quirky festivals like the All Souls Procession and the World Margarita Championship, which in turn evoke our Mexican heritage. • “Offbeat” also suggests off the beaten path, which transforms the fact that we have fewer direct flights than many of our competitors into an asset. • It’s hard to find any group more “unpretentious” than cowboys, who highlight our Western culture strength. You get the idea. Though it’s crucial for Visit Tucson, along with everyone else in the community who benefits from tourism, to promote this vision of our destination, we are also creating an identity that inspires others to do our marketing for us through social media. Who wouldn’t want to post pictures of themselves kicking back in a destination as cool as Tucson on Facebook?

Who Knew? Tucson has new destination-specific tourism research. Until this year the local tourism bureau relied primarily on statewide data from the Arizona Office of Tourism. In addition to the broad-scope research conducted by MMGY Global, Visit Tucson conducted other smaller research projects over the past year. One was a visitor analysis of 165,000 leisure guest records from travelers who stayed at 19 hotels and resorts throughout the metro area between June 1, 2011 and May 31, 2012. Of those, 88,000 stayed at resorts. The big surprise? The top-spending market was New York City. Those travelers spent a total of $8.4 million. Those from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago followed with total expenditures for the year in the $5 million range. “Using this data, we can identify the top-performing zip codes within our feeder markets,” said Allison Cooper, Visit Tucson’s VP of marketing. “This is a much more affordable and effective marketing approach than advertising to an entire city.”

Brand Architecture for Tucson

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Instead of aiming a tourism campaign at what we think people want, we address actual statistics. –

Steve Cohen, VP of Insights, MMGY Global

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specifically, people who said they were interested in visiting Tucson in the next two years – broken out from the larger 2013 MMGY Portrait of American Travelers study. MMGY also visited two key markets, Chicago and Denver, and spoke with three- or four-person groups of past and prospective visitors. Davidson emphasizes the importance of taking the consumer’s perspective into account. “The mind of the consumer is where the brand exists,” he said. “Not all agencies conduct these types of interviews, and we think that’s an incredible miss.” Throughout, Tucson was compared to five cities that share our tourism turf – Scottsdale, Phoenix, Santa Fe, Palm Springs and San Antonio. The good news is that everyone perceived Tucson favorably. However, with just one exception, this designation did not lead the pack in any one asset. For example, Santa Fe was cited more frequently than Tucson in such categories as “Southwestern,” “influenced by Native American cultures” and “spiritual,” while San Antonio ruled the “historical” and “Western” arenas. In marketing parlance, we didn’t “own” any of these qualities. Similarly, while Tucson was considered an appealing vacation destination, we weren’t “top of mind.” MMGY’s Davidson said, “Tucson gets a lot of positive feedback from people in things that are important to them about their leisure travel experience like warm weather, spas and mountains. But when we asked them where they would choose to go, much more often than not their first answer was another city.” For a brand to succeed, it needs to elicit a visceral response in potential visitors. Taking all the complex data they gathered into account, MMGY arrived at a way to elicit this response, and it played on the sole feature that distinguished us from our competitors – a lack of pretentiousness. The crux of the new brand is that Southern Arizona is a place where you can free yourself, where you can feel welcome and relaxed in your own skin. This concept, in turn, can be used as a way to approach our myriad other strengths – including some that are less widely known than they should be. Not many outsiders are aware, for example, that Tucson is a university town with an abundance of outdoor activities. (For more details, see the “If You Build It They Will Come” sidebar on page 78.). continued on page 81 >>> www.BizTucson.com

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This is going to pay big dividends for Tucson in the future. – Brian Johnson Managing Director Loews Ventana Canyon

The Follow Through Visit Tucson’s executives couldn’t be more pleased with MMGY’s results. “The brand we’re creating for Tucson and Southern Arizona captures the essence of the region,” said Visit Tucson Board Chairman Michael Luria. Cooper welcomes “the opportunity to craft an identity for Tucson that is unique, ownable and compelling.” Crucially, as the reaction to MMGY’s presentation to stakeholders at the Visit Tucson offices made clear, the community members who will reap the benefits of the new brand are very enthused about it, too. “This is going to pay big dividends for Tucson in the future,” said Ventana’s Johnson, who was impressed with the methodology and with DeRaad’s leadership “to take the time and do this the right way.” Tracy of The Lodging Company approves MMGY’s message. “The underlying theme is to embrace who we are – not imitate the strengths of other tourist destinations. It sounds simple but it really isn’t,” he said. “Everybody should make this brand their own and include it in their advertising, their public relations, their marketing and even in their operations.” If Tucson is smitten with MMGY, the feeling is mutual. MMGY’s Davidson said, “We have been incredibly impressed with how Tucson has come together around this project. We’ve gotten the sense that there is buy-in – and that buy-in only comes through strong leadership at the top, reinforcing the importance of this type of process for building a tourism market. I give Brent DeRaad and Allison Cooper a tremendous amount of credit.” Biz www.BizTucson.com

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Selection Committee One of the primary recommendations of the Pima County Audit Committee was that the tourism bureau go through a rebranding process – with lots of local input. These are the members of the selection committee that unanimously chose MMGY Global. • Michael Luria, Executive Director, Children’s Museum Tucson and Chair of Visit Tucson Board of Directors • Kate Jensen, Assistant VP for Marketing, University of Arizona • Laura Shaw, Senior VP of Marketing & Communications, Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities • Brian Johnson, Managing Director, Loews Ventana Canyon • Tim Vimmerstedt, Director of Operations & Community Affairs, Pima Air & Space Museum at the time, now Director of Marketing, Visit Tucson • Jim Tiggas, Founder/Director, Tucson Invitational Games • Allison Cooper, VP of Marketing, Visit Tucson The panel was advised by Jim Flynn, who operates FMC Marketing in Scottsdale. Flynn has extensive experience in destination marketing and advertising. Summer 2013 > > > BizTucson 81


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Tucson’s DNA By Joan Liess

Lucky us. As residents of Southern Arizona, we’re right in the heart of one of the most distinctive landscapes on planet Earth. We’re also neighbors to a trove of historic and cultural treasures. As a once-upon-a-time visitor, I remember gaping in wonderment at a giant saguaro, and standing humbled beneath the hand-painted frescos inside Mission San Xavier del Bac. And, ahhhh, there’s that organic easiness of Tucsonans. Is it time to fall in love with Southern Arizona all over again? The hub of our world – Tucson – has lured vacationers, explorers, health seekers, academics, filmmakers and entrepreneurs to Southern Arizona for decades. Climate and cowboys were the migration and tourism bait in the roaring ’20s. Today there is more – so much more – for residents, newcomers and travelers alike. Visit Tucson’s new research shows that Tucson is like no place else – precisely what made us fall in love with the region. And it is exactly what travelers are seeking – an uncommon place where they can be free to just be. “For the first time we have regionspecific research on which to build our brand,” said Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson. “This goes beyond a new ad campaign. This is the essence of who we are. This is our DNA.” So where does Visit Tucson go from 82 BizTucson

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here? Stay tuned. New branding that ties the rational to the emotional is one key. Yet our mountains and saguaros, missions and museums, fiestas and urban hipness will continue to be the credibility behind the lure. Only in Tucson can you find so much to free the spirit and restore the soul. Free to Discover The Dazzle of the Desert There’s something magical about the Sonoran Desert that has drawn people here for centuries. Native Americans came to farm. Folks with tuberculosis and asthma came to breathe easy. Now the world-weary come for the healing energies of our destination spas, resorts and retreats. Mel Zuckerman, founder of Canyon Ranch recently published a love letter to this place. “I felt a sort of energy coming from you, from what I think of as the 1. Kitt Peak National Observatory 2. Ventana Canyon 3. J.W. Marriott Starr Pass 4. Folklorico dancers 5. Hotel Congress 6. Titan Missile Museum 7. Mission San Xavier del Bac 8. Omni Tucson National Resort 9. Tucson sunset 10. Tucson stargazing Photos Courtesy Visit Tucson

spirit of the land. Bathed in that energy, I instantly felt comfortable here... I can’t tell you how many people have come to visit the ranch having never heard of you – and who’ve ended up moving here. They feel what I felt and still feel.” Tucson has rightly claimed the giant saguaro as its icon. This is “home to North America’s largest cacti, the universal symbol of the American West,” according to the Saguaro National Park website. Here the saguaro is not only venerated – but officially protected in the park. The glories of the desert surround us. The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum showcases its wonders, from animals and plants to bugs and snakes. In January the museum expanded its focus to include the importance of water in the biologically rich Sonoran Desert with the opening of the Warden Aquarium and its Rivers to the Sea exhibit. Craig Ivanyi, executive director of the museum, said it is “known internationally and continues to place Tucson on the world map, similar to how the Grand Canyon garners attention for Northern Arizona.” What other place offers such beautifully nurtured in-town natural habitats – including Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul Park and Agua Caliente Park. As its name suggests, Agua Caliente hosts a perennial warm spring within the 101-acre park. continued on page 84 >>>


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BizTOURISM How We See Ourselves More than 100 local tourism stakeholders participated in research to define the essence of Tucson. Here’s what we said: “The city’s proximity to Mexico has helped shape its progressive culture and heritage. It is an incredibly diverse, tolerant and welcoming destination for visitors from all cities and countries.” “Our culture is not about a particular flavor – but the intensity of those flavors together.” “Tucson is bold and colorful. Vibrant sunsets, surrounded by mountain ranges, lots of wildlife and desert flowers in the spring.” “It’s not about your room when you visit Tucson. You want to spend all of your time outdoors.” “We are the pure Sonoran Desert. You won’t find a lot of palm trees and watered lawns in Tucson.” “Tucson advertising from the 1920s focused on wellness. This was the birthplace of the healthy lifestyle movement.” “We live in an outdoor playground.” “The saguaros and mountains create an icon for Tucson – not the city center.” “The cycling loop, bike events and training in this area have primed Tucson to be a platinum biking community.” “People think we are just like Phoenix – but we are much more authentic and natural.”

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continued from page 82 Free to Bike, Hike, Climb, Fly “The Western Governors’ Association reports that outdoor recreation in 19 Western states results in $256 billion in direct spending – and 2.3 million jobs,” said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry. Outdoor recreation plays an important role in the economic impact of tourism. That’s one reason Pima County developed The Loop – a 131mile, shared-use path along the Rillito and Santa Cruz rivers and their tributaries, attracting trail users who walk, run, ride horses, ride bikes, view wildlife and watch birds. More than one third of the metropolitan population lives within a half mile of The Loop or Loop extended paths. Tucson has a whopping 325 miles of striped bike lanes within the city limits, and hundreds more in the surrounding areas – one reason why Outside Magazine crowned Tucson the best roadbiking city in the country in 2010. El Tour de Tucson, the 111-mile perimeter cycling event, is the granddaddy of Tucson’s bicycling events, thriving for three decades, now attracting about 9,000 cyclists. Exploring Tucson’s five mountain ranges can be as adventurous as you choose. Casual trekkers enjoy the paved trail at Sabino Canyon and heavyweight hikers like the 10½-mile Catalina State Park’s Sutherland Trail, which traverses to the top of the mountain. Ultra adventurous? Cliffs, crags and pinnacles await the arduous on some 1,500 climbing routes on Mount Lemmon. Up, up and away. Trip Advisor, based on traveler reviews, lists balloon excursions as the No. 1 adventure activity in Tucson. “We popped up into the air just as the sun was rising – making it one of the most spectacular ever,” wrote one reviewer. Free to Dig the Downtown Vibe Take a one-minute tour of downtown Tucson on Pinterest and you’ll get an immediate sense of how colorful, quirky and multi-cultural our city center is – and why visitors dig it as much as we do. Yes, downtown is way cool again. Over the last decade, visionary business leaders and individuals with creative passions have ignited an urban renaissance. The restored Fox and Rialto theatres, lively Club Congress, revitalized arts warehouses and a wave

of ingenious new eateries are adding even more flavor to downtown life. Locals and tourists alike explore 25 historic sites along downtown’s Presidio Trail on wheels or by foot. Hop on a selfbalancing, battery-powered Segway PT scooter for a guided tour – or download the Presidio Trail self-guided walking tour map from VisitTucson.org. Both options include the Fourth Avenue shopping district, the Historic Tucson Train Depot, Presidio San Agustín de Tucson and the Barrio Viejo streetscape. Every great city has a signature event and the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase is our gem. Show sites dot every square inch of open space in downtown and beyond. “There are dealers and buyers from literally all over the world,” said Jane Roxbury, Visit Tucson’s director of convention services. “Our entire team promotes and supports the event. Every show owner is a Visit Tucson client. We are dedicated to keeping the showcase right here in Tucson.” The first show was in 1954. Did you know… The San Francisco Chronicle thinks downtown Tucson is hip? This May a reviewer wrote, “Tucson is skewing younger and hipper with coffeehouses, restaurants, shops and an artists’ neighborhood that boasts a remarkable bike shop without any attitude.”

Free to Listen to Bird Songs At last count, 248 bird species dwell or fly through Southern Arizona – which means thousands of birders flock here to document sightings of species, listen to their songs and study their natural habitats. This is a lucrative year-round niche market. This is bird haven – from urban parks to the Sweetwater Wetlands, Madera and Ramsey canyons and the 57,000acre San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area in Cochise County, again designated as a Globally Significant Habitat for Birds by the Bureau of Land Management and the Audubon Society. Best bird calls – January’s Wings Over Willcox Birding & Nature Festival celebrates the arrival of more than 20,000 wintering Sandhill cranes, hawks and sparrows. The Tucson Bird & Wildlife Festival convenes in mid-August – a peak birding season that boosts our lowseason hotel occupancies.


MMGY Global’s in-depth research reminded us that we live and work in a hugely desirable travel destination. Vicki Doyle, Visit Tucson’s VP of community relations and visitor services said, “Our stakeholders in the tourism industry are really thrilled with this rebranding process. It’s energized us all.” Free to Giddy Up and Go Cowboys do live and work here. Area ranches, attractions and events bring the real and the Hollywood versions of the West to life. Jackie Ludwig, Visit Tucson’s director of tourism, assists international tour operators in packaging Tucson attractions. “Our Old West heritage is a prime motivator for European and Asian markets – it’s uniquely American and very much alive in Southern Arizona,” she said. Yip! Yip! is a phrase unique to the language of the working cowboy – and on occasion – to corporate executives who drive cattle at the century-old Cocoraque Ranch in Avra Valley. Owner and working rancher Jesus Arvizu partners with hoteliers to create customized corporate outings for travelers and locals. Old West recently met New West at White Stallion Ranch when the largest private solar farm in the Tucson area was installed there. Co-owner Russell True notes on his website the panels power 35 to 40 percent of the electricity for the guest ranch, one of 10 in the area. February’s La Fiesta de los Vaqueros Tucson Rodeo and Parade is a Tucson tradition since 1925. This annual celebration of the cowboys, “gives people a way of touching the West – seeing, feeling and getting close to it,” said the rodeo’s GM Gary Williams. Did you know… Famed movie location Old Tucson hosts weekend tours of its sister site at Mescal near Benson March through June. “Tombstone,” “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” and “The Outlaw Josey Wales” are just a few of the biggies filmed there. “Our close proximity to Hollywood, abundant sunshine and diverse location possibilities continue to attract a growing portion of the entertainment industry market for all genres,” said Shelli Hall, director of the Tucson Film Office.

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BizTOURISM continued from page 85 Free to Explore Heaven & Earth Tucson’s long been known as the astronomy capital of the world. Southern Arizona’s clear skies and minimal light are ideal for stargazing – for amateurs and professionals alike. Astronomy started here in the early 1920s at Steward Observatory on the University of Arizona campus. Kitt Peak National Observatory, founded in 1958, hosts the largest collection of optical telescopes in the world. Atop Mount Graham at almost 11,000 feet is the world’s most powerful telescope – the Large Binocular Telescope. Visitors also can tour the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory on Mount Hopkins in the Santa Rita Mountains. Mount Graham International Observatory is a division of Steward Observatory, the research arm of the UA Department of Astronomy. The Mount Lemmon SkyCenter operated by UA hosts the popular SkyNights program every clear night of the year. On campus, Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium invites you to explore our universe from Earth to space. Examination of a simple cleft in a rock by two local cavers in 1974 led to the discovery of the stunning formations of Kartchner Caverns, 40 miles southeast of Tucson. Kartchner Caverns State Park has an education-focused visitor center and allows a prescribed number of visitors into this highly fragile living cave. Tour reservations are a must. History stars at Colossal Cave Mountain Park in Vail. The dry cave was home to Hohokam Indians from 9001450 A.D. During the Wild West days of the 1880s, it was a hideout for outlaws. Joaquin Ruiz, UA College of Science dean and VP of innovation and strategy, likes to call Tucson “Science City.” “What drives me is learning. I just love to learn. I love this place. I love the informality. I love the culture.” Did you know… There’s an

ocean and a tropical rainforest near Tucson? The UA’s Biosphere 2 is a living science center dedicated to lifelong learning about the Earth. Sustainable lessons abound on the guided tour through five ecosystems in the 7.2-million-square-foot sealed glass enclosure. A lodge and conference center facilitate scholarly events.

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Free to Savor Authentic Cultural Experiences As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the United States, Tucson offers multi-cultural experiences that enrich the lives of travelers and locals. Looking for prehistoric Indian sites, a Cold War missile, funky art installations, a children’s museum, mariachis, classical musicians or ethnic foods? You’ll find them here. This city is known for folk festivals, historic missions, contemporary and Western art and off-the-beatenpath treasures.

What’s Happening Today in Tucson? Just “like” the Visit Tucson Facebook page and follow @ VisitTucsonAZ on Twitter to get updates on everything new and now and happening around town. Smartphone users can access the mobile-friendly website at www.VisitTucson.org or download the app for Uniquely Tucson Destination Downtown. It’s like having a digital concierge at your fingertips.

Check out the VisitTucson.org website for hundreds of examples. Here’s a sampling: History – The UA’s Arizona State Museum is the oldest (1893) and largest anthropology museum in the Southwest. The Arizona Historical Society is nearby. Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista is an active Army base built in 1877 and includes the Historical Museum and U.S. Military Intelligence Museum. Art – Tucson is one of American Style’s Top 25 Art Destinations. MOCA – the Museum of Contemporary Art – is a repurposed exhibit space in a onetime

fire station. UA collections include the Center for Creative Photography and UA Museum of Art. The Tucson Museum of Art is downtown. First Saturday Art Walks direct you to nearby galleries and artists studios. The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures with 275 teeny-tiny houses and room boxes is “peculiar, surprising, and delightful,” according to one visitor. Festivals & Events – Eclectic for sure. Nowhere else will you find the All Souls Procession, Dillinger Days street festival, Tucson Jewish Film Festival, International Mariachi Conference, Yaqui Easter Ceremonies, Tucson Meet Yourself, Tucson Pima Arts Council Open Studio Tour – and festivals for bluegrass, blues, jazz and chamber music. You get the idea. Missions – Mission San Xavier del Bac is a masterful example of Tucson’s Spanish Colonial influence. Known as the White Dove of the Desert, it continues to serve descendants of the Tohono O’odham for whom the mission was founded in 1692. Further south along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail, Tumacácori National Historic Park protects three Spanish Colonial adobe mission ruins. Airplanes & Missiles - The Pima Air & Space Museum has more than 300 aircraft and spacecraft – and you can rent a hangar for a one-of-a-kind catered event. Standing in the official Air Force One for presidents Kennedy and Johnson is a moving touchpoint. On an eerie note, there’s one place in the world where you can stand on the front line of the Cold War – the Titan Missile Museum in Sahuarita. This preserved site is all that remains of the 54 Titan II missile sites on alert across the U.S. from 1963 to 1987. Free to be Tucson “Where you go says a lot about you,” according to MMGY Global, the agency charged by Visit Tucson to develop a new travel brand for Tucson and Southern Arizona. So what do visitors to Tucson reveal about themselves? “They’re genuine, personal and freespirited,” said Allison Cooper, Visit Tucson’s VP of marketing, “which is the essence of who we are as a community.” That’s a match made in marketing heaven.

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VISIT TUCSON BOARD OF DIRECTORS Executive Committee Chair

Michael Luria Executive Director Children’s Museum Tucson

Town of Oro Valley Brendan Burns Council Member

Vice Chair

City of Tucson Shirley Scott, Ward 4 Tucson City Council Hospitality/ Visitor Services

Secretary

Alex Ahluwalia, GM* JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort

Barbara Peck, Owner Barbara Peck Public Relations Paul Zucarelli, President CBIZ Benefits & Insurance Services

VISIT TUCSON LEADERSHIP TEAM

John Cousins, GM BW InnSuites Tucson Foothills

Marion Hook, Innkeeper** Richard Bratt, CPA Adobe Rose Bed Shareholder, COO & Breakfast BeachFleischman Heather Lukach Member at Large Administrator Helinda Lizarraga UA Presidential Events Director of Hotels & Visitor Services Focus Hospitality Reini Marsh, President Management Southern Arizona Member at Large Attractions Alliance Pete Mangelsdorf Craig Martin, GM** CEO & GM Aloft Hotel Old Tucson Treasurer

Immediate Past Chair

Lynn Ericksen, GM Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Resort General Business Mike Feder, VP & GM Tucson Padres

Russell True, Owner White Stallion Ranch Mark VanBuren, President Southern Arizona Lodging & Resort Association Members at Large

Tom Firth, Owner Hacienda del Sol Guest Ranch Resort

Jim Di Giacomo, Executive Director Green Valley/Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce

Fred Gould, Marketing Manager Arizona Shuttle

Richard Gruentzel, VP Admin & Finance/CFO Tucson Airport Authority

Craig Ivanyi Executive Director** Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Bill Holmes* Tucson Metro Chamber

Andrew Schorr, Partner Lewis & RocaChris Smith, Partner* Tucson Golf Vacations Howard Volin, President Graphic Impact

From left – Felipe Garcia, Executive VP; Brent DeRaad, President & CEO; Jessica Stephens, Director of Public Relations; Allison Cooper, VP of Marketing; Roni Thomas, CFO; Vince Trinidad, Director of Tucson Sports; Vicki Doyle, VP of Community Relations & Visitor Services, and Tim Vimmerstedt, Director of Marketing

From left – Jackie Ludwig, Director of Tourism; Graeme Hughes, Director of Convention Sales; Shelli Hall, Director Tucson Film Office, and Jane Roxbury, Director of Convention Services

Lea Marquez Peterson President & CEO** Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Mike Varney President & CEO ** Tucson Metro Chamber

David Welsh, Executive VP Tucson Regional Economic Pima County Opportunities Sharon Bronson * Term ends June 30, 2013 Pima County Board ** Term begins July 1, 2013 of Supervisors Tom Moulton, Director* Pima County Economic Development & Tourism

Photos: BalfourWalker.com

Government

For membership opportunities, contact Vicki Doyle at vdoyle@VisitTucson.org or (520) 770-2133

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When it comes to aquatics, this facility will have an olympic-size economic impact on the entire region.

– Vince Trinidad Director Tucson Sports, Visit Tucson

Aquatic Center Attracts Athletic Tourism By Steve Rivera Admittedly, Oro Valley Mayor Satish I. Hiremath is a hard man to impress. Tough in fact. But when the Town of Oro Valley was able to re-do the old Dennis Weaver pool and turn it into what is now the Oro Valley Aquatic Center, the result was a beckoning oasis in the desert. “I was in awe, actually,” Hiremath said. “There have actually been just a few things in my life that I have been in awe about – but this is pretty impressive.” It’s Southern Arizona’s jewel in the desert – and shows what a $5 million renovation can do to a place. And for the future. “Our return on investment from a marketing standpoint alone is going to be astronomical,” said Hiremath. “What they’ve done with the facility is 88 BizTucson

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pretty phenomenal.” Hiremath, both mayor and a practicing dentist, said for the past 2½ years the town of Oro Valley has made a concerted effort to “really showcase Oro Valley.” And the pool is a perfect example. Realizing the pool is one of a handful in Southern Arizona that is rated as an Olympic-caliber pool, Hiremath decided to take advantage of its uniqueness. “I was contemplating how do we create an asset out of it?” he said. “This is what we came up with.” Vince Trindidad is director of Tucson Sports, a division of Visit Tucson. He said, “When it comes to aquatics, this facility will have an olympic-size economic impact on the entire region.” Maybe even the whole Southwest. “This is the best water you’re going

to get that’s not collegiately owned. At this point, no facility can even match it,” he said. The pool, in addition to being a competition-level facility, includes a water slide, a splash pad for children and other family-friendly amenities including: • Heated 25-yard recreation pool • Heated competition 50-meter pool • Classroom for birthday parties, community meetings and CPR classes • New family changing rooms • Shaded areas • Concession stand • Bleachers for seating during events • Year-round availability

www.BizTucson.com

PHOTO: BRENT G. MATHIS

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“Oro Valley took a very bold move in building this caliber of facility, but they want aquatic events and sports tourism to be pillars of their community and economic development plan,” Trinidad said. The Aquatic Center is the perfect start. Pardon the pun, it’s already a splash – with a few hundred people coming in mid-March to celebrate the grand opening. “Our aquatic center is a point of civic pride because it is one of the premier aquatic facilities in the southwestern United States,” said Lou Waters, Oro Valley vice mayor. Hiremath said a state swimming event involving eight year olds was held in the spring and generated $95,000 and another state event brought in $237,000. “What it all means is economic impact for Oro Valley,” Waters said. “It’s about hotel stays and visitor spending on dining, shopping, entertainment and more. We have no property tax – so sports tourism is a way to generate revenue for community services.”

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Waters said the return on investment on the new facility is projected to be about $2.2 million per year. There are a number of events slated for the pool, in addition to the use of the facility by the area residents. The U.S. National Synchronized Swimming Championships are slated to be held at the Oro Valley Aquatic Center April 8-12, 2014 – attracting 180 competitors, along with friends, family, coaches and officials. “We’ll have a number of events ongoing – and have a place for our local youth to cool off in the summers,” Waters said. Oro Valley officials are currently working with Visit Tucson, joining forces to attract an array of groups from all over the nation to stay and play in northwest Tucson. Teams that practice in the winter months in cold climates

Logo designed by Visit Tucson

will be targeted. (The Visit Tucson graphic design team also created the center’s logo.) Regarding the aquatic center, Hiremath said officials also are looking into potentially bringing in Pac-12 Conference competitors to train before swim meets at the University of Arizona. “I’ve coined a new phrase and it’s basically ‘athletic tourism’ instead of sports tourism,” Hiremath said. “Sports tourism has the connotation that you have to be an athlete to compete in a sports event – but athletic tourism is something closer to home. In my opinion, everyone considers themselves some kind of an athlete – whether you are a weekend warrior or a hiker or a biker. You don’t have to be at that elite level to compete.” Oro Valley is hoping to attract more of those types of athletes to train and compete. “I’m thrilled with the progress we’re making on the athletic tourism front. We’ll continue to work hard and partner with Visit Tucson to maximize those impacts,” Hiremath said. Biz

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To Metro Tucson Business Leaders: As our fiscal year concludes June 30, I want to thank the City of Tucson, Pima County, Town of Oro Valley, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Tohono O’odham Nation and our 500 partner businesses for their continued investment in Visit Tucson. Tourism has a $2.4 billion annual economic impact – making this one of metro Tucson’s top industries. As you’ve read in this BizTucson special section, that impact includes nearly 22,000 tourism-related jobs throughout Southern Arizona. That’s impressive. Yet we all know that tourism’s economic impact in this region could and should grow. During the recession, our budget dropped from $10 million in fiscal year 2007-08 to $6.4 million this past year. We are very enthused that the Visit Tucson budget will rise to $7 million in fiscal year 2013-14 – thanks to increased bedtax revenue investments from the City of Tucson, Pima County and Town of Oro Valley. These investments, and those from our other partners, will help this destination compete for leisure travelers and meetings business that is currently going to other cities. Tucson’s Strongpoint Research conducted a visitor inquiry study for us last fall that showed 70 percent of our visitors will return multiple times over the next five years. This tells us that if we can get travelers to visit Tucson for the first time, chances are good they will return. Yet to get them to Tucson initially, we have to target the right customers at the right times with the right messages. Based on additional extensive research we conducted during the past year, we know travelers from New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago spent the most money last year in Tucson. We know the top zip codes in those markets and others that are most likely to deliver customers to Tucson in the future. We learned when these travelers typically book Tucson vacations, how they perceive our region and what local activities, attributes and events are most likely to bring them back. It’s all part of the Tucson and Southern Arizona destination branding initiative you’ve read about in this special report. By understanding our customers we’re in a much better position to develop a brand – or positioning – for this destination that sets us apart from other cities and regions. We believe that MMGY’s brand concepts of freedom and “Free Yourself” offer a multitude of opportunities to convey Tucson’s most compelling travel attributes. I feel our new positioning statement says it all: “Tucson inspires a sense of freedom among all who visit. Freedom of thought and expression. Freedom to discover and explore. And the freedom to be yourself.” To that end, I feel a sense of freedom to thank the Visit Tucson board of directors and staff for their support, guidance and talents that brought this rebranding to life – and to all the stakeholders who contributed their valuable insights. We are also immensely grateful to Steve Rosenberg and the BizTucson editorial team for demonstrating the value of tourism through this special report – and providing an outlet for Visit Tucson partner businesses to promote their uniquely Tucson product offerings to the local business community.

Sincerely, Brent DeRaad President & CEO Visit Tucson

100 South Church Avenue Tucson, Arizona 85701 520.625.1817 800.638.8350 f. 520.884.7804 visitTucson.org


Visit Tucson’s

ANATOMY of a NEW logo According to Stewart Colovin, Executive Vice President of Brand Strategy at MMGY Global, logos are not designed to tell the entire brand story. “Logos make a very powerful statement,” he explains. “But they shouldn’t attempt to say everything at once. Instead, a logo should help explain a destination’s brand promise.” Since early 2013, travel marketing agency MMGY Global has undergone an immersive process with Visit Tucson and the destination to develop a new brand identity that conveys the true fabric of the community. The process, which included many visits to Tucson and in-depth research, resulted in a logo that makes a statement about how Tucson inspires a sense of freedom for all who visit. Freedom of thought and expression. Freedom to discover and explore. And the freedom to be yourself. “Those who are attracted to a destination like Tucson share a common thread: They’re looking for a place where they feel comfortable in their own skin,” says Chris Davidson, Executive Vice President of Global Strategy for MMGY. “Tucson isn’t chic, polished or plastic. Tucson is a bit off the beaten path and attracts the free-spirited and genuine.”

History of the MTCVB Logo

CURRENT

2000

1991

1990

A History of Being Offbeat and Energizing By its nature, Visit Tucson is an organization that serves as the official “welcoming committee” for visitors to the destination. The new Visit Tucson logo generates a liberating, refreshing sense of what Tucson really is – a community of open minds and free spirits that invite others to discover, explore and be themselves.

1988

Embracing Freedom of Expression The essence of the new Tucson brand is Free Yourself. Tucson inspires the freedom to discover and explore, the freedom to be yourself, and the freedom of thought and expression.

Importance of the Saguaro The saguaro cactus is important to the Tucson destination. “It has become an American icon,” said Tim Vimmerstedt, Visit Tucson’s director of marketing, “and the Tucson destination has embraced and protected the saguaro.” Tucson’s surrounding natural environment is an important, distinctive element of the destination’s experience. So much so that the saguaro has been part of the MTCVB’s logo since 1991.

1986

TO SEE THE NEW LOGO SCAN THE QR CODE WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE AND FREE YOURSELF


Smart Travelers

Hold Phone the

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By Monica Surfaro Spigelman

Hyper-connectivity is transforming Tucson tourism. Using the ubiquitous smartphone, the curious now can travel great distances in seconds via cyberspace. And they’re finding Tucson on the global tourism map. “The impact of this digital revolution is astounding,” said Allison Cooper, VP of marketing for Tucson’s tourism bureau now known as Visit Tucson. “One in every three digital minutes is now spent on smartphones and tablets. It’s vital that we utilize these platforms to reach consumers at every stage of travel – when they’re dreaming, researching, booking – and when they’re here in Tucson.” To create effective cyber-marketing tools that connect with these tech-savvy travelers, the bureau collaborates with entrepreneurs, nonprofits, city agencies and other partner businesses throughout the region. Together, they’re kick starting this destination’s visibility with effective digital communication strategies and advertising. “With more than 50 percent of Americans now owning smartphones, execut92 BizTucson

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ing a strong mobile marketing strategy is critical for growing this destination’s market share of tourism dollars,” Cooper said. Pooling Ideas & Resources Visit Tucson’s newest collaborative partner is the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, a Tucson-based nonprofit that connects people to the region’s cultural, historic and natural treasures through programs focusing on heritage tourism and heritage-based economic development. Another bureau partner is the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance. Together, they’ve published the Tucson Attractions Passport for 10 years – a booklet offering buy-one, get-one free admissions and other savings to more than 50 regional attractions. In October, the two entities launched a digital application, available on iPhones and Androids. Madden Media, a national firm based in downtown Tucson, provides the hightech expertise for Visit Tucson’s mobile applications. Led by Carl Cox, Madden’s senior director of online produc-

tions, the firm has a track record of producing results for the local tourism bureau as well as other partners and destinations across the country, Cooper said. UniquelyTucson.com The Uniquely Tucson Destination Downtown project brought together the Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, Visit Tucson and supporting sponsors, including Downtown Tucson Partnership, the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office, Tucson-Pima County Historical Commission and Parkwise. They merged two publications – the Heritage Alliance’s map and Destination Downtown, a publication underwritten for 10 years by the tourism bureau – to create a more comprehensive print supplement as well as develop the UniquelyTucson.com website. This innovative responsive-design site adjusts to whatever device the consumer is using – be it desktop, tablet or smartphone. It features an interactive map and search capability to explore 176 historic buildings and nearly 200 locallyowned businesses and heritage destinawww.BizTucson.com


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Since the November 2012 launch of the redesigned VisitTucson.org, developed by simpleview, average time spent at the site tripled to 8 minutes per user session.

tions along the modern streetcar route. The platform employs geo-location, click-to-call and color codes to assist users. Rich in content, the website allows online visitors to learn more about historic buildings or heritage destinations by touching a link which leads to descriptive content. In the case of historic buildings, another link also leads to dated and numbered historical photos from Arizona Historical Society archives. “UniquelyTucson.com makes people more aware of the historic environment they experience in their everyday life,” said Vanessa Bechtol, executive director of the Santa Cruz alliance. “This website is a unique representation of our region’s living traditions.” Jonathan Mabry, historic preservation officer of the Tucson Historic Preservation Office, said, “UniquelyTucson.com is a model for how to use technology to increase public awareness of our historic streetscapes.” According to Cooper, research indicates that approximately 71 percent of international travelers to the United States are interested in cultural heritage. www.BizTucson.com

VisitTucson.org

These tourists stay longer, book earlier and spend, on average, $994 per trip.

With more than 50 percent of Americans now owning smartphones, executing a strong mobile marketing strategy is critical for growing this destination’s market share of tourism dollars. –

Allison Cooper, VP of Marketing Visit Tucson

Potential National Heritage Designation The 10-year-old alliance is a regional nonprofit that promotes heritage destinations and businesses tied to the greater Santa Cruz River watershed. The alliance is the local coordinating entity that supports the Santa Cruz Valley National Heritage Area Act – legislation to designate the watershed area as a National Heritage Area, which would help boost tourism travel to Tucson and Southern Arizona. National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress and account for $12.9 billion in economic activity, 148,000 jobs and $12 billion in tax revenue each year, Bechtol said. “There already are 49 National Heritage Areas around the country. This is a great opportunity for Tucson to attract tourist dollars as well as celebrate our community’s shared heritage.” Two-for-One E-Book The 10th anniversary of the Tucson Attractions Passport – known as the Book of Fun – coincided with increased continued on page 94 >>> Summer 2013 > > > BizTucson 93


Photo: BalfourWalker.com

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It’s vital that we reach consumers at every stage of travel – when they’re dreaming, researching, booking – and when they’re here in Tucson.

EXPLOR

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Allison Cooper VP of Marketing Visit Tucson

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More than six million travelers saw the December, 2012 U.S. Airways inflight magazine – and the 48-page editorial section featuring all things Tucson. Articles and photographs showcased 33 local tourism attractions and businesses. Allison Cooper, VP of Tucson’s tourism bureau, brokered this collaboration with the magazine and worked with local partners to produce this professionally written editorial section. The significant group discount allowed local partners to reach a new market of travelers they could not have afforded to advertise to on their own, Cooper said. In addition to the magazines distributed on U.S. Airways flights, Visit Tucson published 1,500 reprints of the special section for on-going distribution to market this unique destination. “This section celebrates Tucson’s sense of place, emphasizing our rich cultural heritage and the distinctly diverse offerings that make this region so awe-inspiring,” Cooper said.

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Allison Cooper, VP of Marketing Visit Tucson continued from page 94 growth and the rise of mobile technology for travelers. Visit Tucson and the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance decided this was the perfect time to make the guide available on a digital platform. Tom Moulton, co-founder of the SAAA, said the app is “a logical fit for travel activities. We created the app because today’s tourists have a high level of tech comfort.” The passport app can be downloaded for free to scan points of interest. Then PayPal integration allows users to purchase the app and access special offers once at a participating venue. Reini Marsh, Old Tucson sales manager and current SAAA president, said, “Each offer includes details about the attraction, including contact information, hours and directions. You also can sort offers by your current location using the ‘near me’ option. Since the launch, well over 1,000 consumers have downloaded the app – and 12 percent have purchased. –

Mobile Marketing Strategy For Visit Tucson, the digital design of UniquelyTucson. com and the feature-rich Passport app are natural progressions in an overall mobile marketing strategy. “Our collaborators help us brand our region’s incomparable nature, arts and culture,” Cooper said. “We strive to connect travelers with our partner businesses.” One example is the app for International Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase attendees. “Tucson’s tech collaborations are establishing a strong digital culture and identification for the region,” she said. But technology won’t work without an effective marketing strategy in place, Cooper said. “Once you build the platforms, you have to advertise these sites to drive greater visibility and direct online consumers to the rich content on these devices.” To underscore that point, Madden’s Cox added, “Digital components are fantastic tools to tell our stories well. Ultimately, it’s about the authentic experience.”

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BizTOURISM

Fly Tucson By Sheryl Kornman

right regional airline with the right size aircraft.” J. Felipe Garcia, executive VP of the Visit Tucson tourism bureau is working with TAA on this effort. Air service to Mexico from Tucson ended in 2008 when AeroMexico discontinued flights between Tucson and Hermosillo. The pullout took place soon after TIA’s new international terminal was completed. It’s still in use by cargo carriers and private business travelers. “We know leisure and business travelers are going south – to Making the Case with Airlines Sonora, to Rocky Point, Guaymas, San Carlos and Hermosil In 2007, TIA welcomed 4.4 million commercial passengers. lo. We know the market is there,” Garcia said. The largest That number fell to 3.6 million in 2012 as air carriers failed, business in Sonora is headquartered in Tucson, yet there still merged, reduced operations and shifted to profitability models is no air service from Tucson to Sonora. He said roundtrip from traditional market-share models. airfare from Tucson to Sonora could be $350 – half what it is Richard J. Gruentzel, TAA’s CFO and VP of administrafrom Phoenix. tion and finance, said the authority recognized the funda “TAA’s been great in not giving up,” Garcia said. “It’s not mental changes in the airline industry that have hit small- and easy to convince an airline to make an investment in Tucson. medium-sized hubs like Tucson hard – including nationwide They want to be profitable almost from day one. They want flight reductions because of high fuel prices, airline mergers, to at least start breaking even in the first month. TAA is taking restricting seating to raise airfares and an emphasis on large this very seriously. This project is not on the back burner. hub airports. “We’ve met with airlines several times. They’ve been here And competition from Phoenix in town. It’s an educational process. remains tough. “We are the only We’re selling an investment. We midsize airport in the United States know they’re not a charity. We’ve Airlines Serving Tucson that is less than two hours from a made a lot more progress now than major airport offering at least two we have in the last three years,” he Airline Nonstop Destinations major low-fare carriers,” said Mary said. “We want Sonora to be sucAlaska Airlines Seattle/Tacoma Davis, senior director of business cessful, too.” American Chicago O’Hare development and marketing for Still, it’s a work in progress. TAA. “It takes a village to attract an air Dallas/Ft. Worth TAA is working to attract service line,” Davis said. TAA’s board of di Los Angeles rectors includes some of the biggest to several domestic destinations imDelta Atlanta influencers in the community and portant to the community, as well as Minneapolis (seasonal) they are turning to their stakeholder destinations in Sonora, Mexico and Salt Lake City Canada. groups to help TAA meet its goals. Southwest Chicago Midway Gruentzel said TAA has been TAA is also planning to enhance Denver “working closely with our pubthe passenger experience with a ter Las Vegas lic- and private-sector partners in minal renovation project that could Los Angeles Southern Arizona and Sonora and get under way in 2014. The work San Diego has demonstrated that business and will improve passenger flow with United Denver leisure demand for nonstop service kiosk check-in, additional ATMs, Houston to several destinations in Sonora will more space for concessions, recon Los Angeles be profitable and sustainable for the figured airline ticketing counters, It’s no longer business as usual for the Tucson Airport Authority – the self-funded, independent, nonprofit that operates Tucson International Airport. After a reorganization that began two years ago, TAA began to transform itself to more aggressively develop both air service and new revenue streams in response to the economic downturn that forced airlines and airports to change their business models.

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US Airways

San Francisco Phoenix

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and additional space for passengers after they pass through TSA security. Customer service remains a high priority as well. “We know that time is valuable and travel is expensive. We hire good people so we can provide the highest level of customer service,” Davis said. “There are a lot of options for customers today. We’d like them to think of us first.”

dustrial uses, Gruentzel said. He is optimistic about developing the authority’s land. “A strong existing aerospace and defense industry presence and a strategic location for multimodal logistics opportunities create tremendous potential for development of land areas not currently needed for airfield and passenger terminal facilities,” Gruentzel said. With all these strategies in play, TAA’s marketing effort is Looking to a Diversified Future broad. This summer, an online community survey will be con Like many other airport operators around the world dealducted by an outside vendor to find out what the community ing with airline business model shifts, TAA is working to inwants from TAA. A marketing campaign will emphasize the crease non-aeronautical revenue. In addition to funds from ease of traveling from TIA and the enhanced customer serairline landing fees, TAA receives rents from tenants, vehicle vice experience. parking fees and a percentage “We’re examining our air service of airport terminal concessions. and also how to position ourselves TAA’s largest tenant remains as a unique destination,” Davis Raytheon Missile Systems. Other said. tenants include Bombardier, As Even with the current challengcent Aviation Services and pries, TAA remains a key economic vate aircraft operations. driver in Tucson, with a total an One major endeavor is to lenual economic impact of $3.2 verage 5,000 acres of “develbillion, according to a 2012 study opable” property around the conducted by the Eller College of airport. A new master-plan upManagement at the University of Arizona. date emphasizes “comprehensive land-use planning that will guide TIA operates its own police and fire departments. It supports efforts to aggressively market and 35,000 jobs throughout the region develop TIA’s abundant land re– including the 13,000 workers sources” suited for aviation and – J. Felipe Garcia, Executive VP, Visit Tucson employed at the airport itself. non-aviation commercial and in-

We know leisure and business travelers are going south – to Sonora, to Rocky Point, Guaymas, San Carlos and Hermosillo. We know the market is there.

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Brent DeRaad President & CEO Visit Tucson

Photo: BalfourWalker.com

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Tucson’s Tremendous Tourism Opportunity By Romi Carrell Wittman Even people in the know sometimes get tripped up by the alphabet soup of the name. After all, MTCVB doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. That’s one of the many reasons the Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau is getting to undergoing a makeover. In June it unveils a comprehensive branding campaign and the logo for its new name - Visit Tucson. Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of the organization, is excited about the change and the new marketing campaign ahead. He said it will give travelers – both business and leisure – a better sense of the community and the www.BizTucson.com

assets that make Tucson unique. “This is a great opportunity for Tucson to create its mark out there in marketplace so more potential travelers know what we have to offer.” These changes are based on a year’s worth of comprehensive market research gleaned from local, regional and national traveler surveys and interviews. This customized data gives the bureau an unprecedented understanding of what draws travelers to Tucson – as well as what might keep them away. Visit Tucson is using this information to rebrand itself and to reach potential travelers in highly targeted ways. “Among those who have been here

before, we discovered they are very likely to return,” DeRaad said. They come here because Tucson provides them with a rejuvenating retreat from their daily lives, a “get-away-from-itall” quality they don’t find other places. Tucson also connects them to the outdoors in a way other destinations cannot match. With 350+ days of sunshine a year, every day is a good day for golf, hiking, cycling or just kicking back. “What tends to resonate is that Tucson offers a very casual experience and the freedom to explore,” he said. “They can get out and understand the culture of the community. They like having an authentic experience.” continued on page 100 >>> Summer 2013 > > > BizTucson 99


BizTOURISM continued from page 99 The research revealed some surprising facts, too – namely that New York is the number one “feeder” city in terms of travel dollars to Tucson, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas and San Diego. “I was really surprised to see how strong New York was, considering there are no nonstop flights coming in from New York,” DeRaad said. “They far and away outspent travelers from other destinations – about 30 percent above what we saw from other markets.” The research also revealed that the still-recovering economy, as well as lingering stereotypes about Arizona (specifically the controversy surround SB 1070), are holding some travelers back – though that is changing. “Some people who haven’t visited think that there isn’t much to see or do,” DeRaad said, which demonstrates why a new, highly targeted and focused marketing campaign is needed to reach more travelers. While the MTCVB has seen success

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New Yorkers far and away outspent travelers from other destinations – about 30 percent above what we saw from other markets. – Brent DeRaad President & CEO Visit Tucson

over the past three years with its Real Southwest campaign, DeRaad said it’s time for a change. The bureau teamed up with MMGY Global, a travel marketing firm based in Kansas City, to develop an entirely new branding strategy and campaign, which will be unveiled at the annual meeting on June 13. DeRaad is also pushing for a bigger budget. In July 2012, the Pima County audit of the agency stated that funding “is insufficient for MTCVB to remain competitive with other destinations.”

The bureau was hit hard during the recession and saw its budget cut from $10 million annually five years ago to its current $6.5 million. The revenue comes, in part, from a bed tax levied on hotel rooms. As the economy continues to improve and more people visit Tucson, bed tax revenues will grow. In fact, the City of Tucson voted in late May to increase Visit Tucson funding to 33 percent, up from 28 percent this year. That’s an increase of roughly $500,000. The Town of Oro Valley also has pledged to increase its investment in Visit Tucson from $75,000 to $120,000 next year. DeRaad hopes to get back to the $10 million a year budget within the next five years. In the meantime, he’s eager to share this rebranding campaign not only with tourism and economic development stakeholders, but with targeted leisure travelers, tour operators, travel agents and meeting planners. “We’ve got to be sure that Tucson occupies a very clear, distinctive place in the minds of customers,” he said. “If we can get them here that first time, they’ll be back.”

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Michael Luria Executive Director Children’s Museum Tucson

Where We Want to Be By Romi Carrell Wittman Longtime Tucsonan Michael Luria knows a thing or two about destination Tucson. He’s executive director of Children’s Museum Tucson and is starting a second year as chair of the Visit Tucson board of directors. As a former owner of the popular Café Terra Cotta, he also knows about Tucson’s hospitality industry. “We have a unique product,” Luria said of Tucson. “There are other Southwest locations, but Tucson really is unique. We need to embrace, cherish and promote that.” Luria has had an eventful year www.BizTucson.com

leading Visit Tucson as it implemented recommendations from a recent performance audit. Under his leadership, the organization focused on developing a new brand for Tucson and Southern Arizona, while working successfully with the public sector to increase its investment of bed-tax dollars in Visit Tucson. Some months ago, Luria led a board retreat exploring the organization’s approach to marketing the region as a travel destination. The group looked ahead to 2016 and asked itself “where do we want to be?”

Many things came out of that retreat, including the need to secure and invest additional revenue in Visit Tucson’s marketing, sales and promotional programs to attract more leisure travelers and meetings. Tucson has formidable competition for these customers and the dollars they spend on lodging, dining, attractions, shopping and more. “With the research we’ve conducted this past year, we will be able to target customers with tailored messages,” Luria said. “We need to invest our continued on page 104 >>> Summer 2013 > > > BizTucson 103


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There are other Southwest locations, but Tucson really is unique. We need to embrace, cherish and promote that. –

Michael Luria, Chair, Visit Tucson

continued from page 103 limited dollars wisely to maximize our return on investment.” This logic underpins the new rebranding strategy and campaign, launched June 13. The bureau partnered with MMGY Global, a bestin-class tourism marketing firm. “We’re tapping the best and the smartest,” Luria said. The rebranding strategy includes not only a new marketing campaign, but also the new name for the tourism bureau – Visit Tucson. Luria is excited about the changes ahead. “We’re fortunate in that we have a very engaged board. It’s evidenced by number of people in the room and the energy in the room,” he said. “We’re

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driving the conversation about where we’re at – and where we’re going.” Luria added that, with Brent DeRaad as president and CEO, Visit Tucson is in a really good place. “He’s a breath of fresh air. He is a benefit to our community because he understands Arizona and the Southwest.” There is still work to be done, Luria said – starting with the people living here. “I’m not sure everyone really understands the value of tourism. Tourism in this region has a $2.4 billion impact on our economy.” When business or leisure travelers dine at a local restaurant, stay at a hotel, rent a car, go horseback riding or shopping, they’re paying sales tax – dol-

lars that go to the city or county general funds. “Those funds pay for things like police, fire, parks and recreation,” he said. The research revealed that Tucson has many strengths. One that Luria is particularly proud of is its reputation as laid back, friendly and accommodating. This is a place where people can just kick back and unwind – or get energized and explore the outdoors, go to events and attractions, taste new foods and experience this distinctive culture and environment. “Tucson is very special,” he said, “This is truly a one-of-a-kind destination with great appeal for today’s travelers.”

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Green Valley - Sahuarita

TWO2GREAT COMMUNITIES

LIFESTYLES

With more than 300 days of sunshine and an average of 85 degrees, both communities of Green Valley & Sahuarita provide uncompromising lifestyles. A combined population of 50,000 makes this a premier area for Southern Arizona living. Come to the gateway of Southern Arizona and enjoy hiking, biking, bird watching, historical equestrian tails and so much more. This is your invitation to visit an area that will exceed your expectations. www.greenvalleysahuarita.com 275 W. Continental Rd., Suite 123 Green Valley, AZ 85622 (520) 625-7575 (800) 858-5872 jim@gvchamberaz.tuccoxmail.com Town of Sahuarita 375 W. Sahuarita Center Way Sahuarita, AZ 85629 www.ci.sahuarita.az.us

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10 Reasons Foodies Love Tucson By Edie Jarolim When I first moved to Tucson from Manhattan in the early 1990s, I would have scoffed at anyone who predicted this would become a great food town. Sure, there were some terrific restaurants, from taquerias to fine dining rooms, along with a few interesting ethnic markets, but the scene was nothing to write home about – literally. I would have been hard pressed to pitch Tucson food stories to any national publication. 1. Dining diversity You may have to do a little digging, but you’ll find every type of cuisine you could want here, including such unexpected ones as Jamaican, Hawaiian and Serbian. And you won’t have any difficulty finding excellent Middle Eastern and Asian restaurants, particularly Indian and Japanese. Italian fine dining rooms, a Tucson staple, have been joined by more casual trattorias and pizzerias. We even have the first pizzeria in Arizona certified by a Neapolitan food guild – Vero Amore. American classics, from steakhouses to burger joints, thrive side by side with New American dining rooms highlighting farm-to-market fare. And how many cities can claim to have access to Native American food – fry bread vendors at Mission San Xavier del Bac and more traditional Tohono O’odham fare at the Desert Rain Café in Sells? A Tucson café with the unlikely name of Mother Hubbard’s – it’s a long story – reinterprets Native American recipes in several breakfast dishes.

Two decades later, there’s plenty worth pitching. What’s changed? Both Tucson and, after two decades of traveling around the U.S. and abroad, my sense of what makes a dining destination desirable. As you’ll see from the following list, that includes some intangibles as well as characteristics that are easier to quantify.

2. Mexican food You’d be hard pressed to find a similar concentration of authentic Mexican restaurants – as opposed to Tex-Mex, say, or Baja style – anywhere outside of Mexico. They’re concentrated in a 23mile radius from South Tucson through downtown and lower midtown. Tucson has been known for restaurants highlighting the food from the neighboring state of Sonora since 1922, when El Charro Café started serving carne seca and other traditional dishes. And since El Guero Canelo and its nearby rival BK Hot Dogs duked it out on “Man v. Food,” Tucson may be best known for its Sonoran hot dogs. But other parts of Mexico such as Jalisco (Guadalajara Grill), Mexico City (La Parilla Suiza) and Oaxaca (Theresa’s Mosaic Café) are well represented too. And Café Poca Cosa is known nationally for taking diners on a culinary spin around the interior of Mexico. 3. Many markets Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joes… We’ve got more branches of all the national gourmet grocery chains than

most cities our size, along with homegrown markets for every ethnicity from Italian to Vietnamese. Weekly open-air markets abound, too. The Santa Cruz River Farmer’s Market, run by the Community Food Bank in the Mercado San Agustin complex, was recognized by Eating Well magazine as one of the top 10 in the U.S. And for variety and consistency – not to mention its social scene – it’s hard to beat the Sunday farmer’s market at St. Philips Plaza. 4. Tea and coffee clout Tucson has many popular independent coffee houses that roast their own beans – for example, Raging Sage – and a tradition of coffee brewing. Arbuckle’s, the first roaster in Arizona to qualify for USDA organic certification and the first to be licensed a fair trade roaster, does cuppings to create special blends for restaurants all over town. But tea is the city’s surprise. Along with the Maya Tea Company – an international company created by Indianborn Manish Shah, who now manages continued on page 108 >>>

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1. Miraval Life in Balance

6. El Merendero

11. Distinctive Desserts

2. Guadalajara Grill

7. Sonoran Hot Dog

3. Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails

8. Tucson Culinary Festival, Casino del Sol

12. People’s Choice, World Margarita Championship

4. Southwestern Salads

9. Café Poca Cosa

5. Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea

10. JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa

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13. Flying V, Loews Ventana Canyon


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continued from page 106 the two farmer’s markets from which he used to sell his chai blends – Tucson has the unique Seven Cups Fine Chinese Tea, the only American tea company with its own Chinese trading license. You can schedule an authentic Chinese tea service at the intimate tearoom. The Tohono Chul Garden Bistro serves afternoon high tea in its unique desert setting, and the Chantilly Tea Room dedicates an entire building to traditional English teas and tea supplies. 5. Potent potables The beer and wine scenes are bustling. Barrio, Borderlands, Dragoon, Gentle Ben’s and Thunder Canyon brewing companies are all members of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, and Nimbus beer is distributed nationally. Restaurants with award-winning wine lists and frequent wine-pairing events are too numerous to mention, and two serious wine-producing regions, Sonoita-Patagonia and Willcox, are an easy drive from town. The interest in cocktail culture that started with Kingfisher in the 1990s has burgeoned. Casino del Sol and Downtown Kitchen + Cocktails even offer mixology classes. And agave is the jewel in the city’s cocktail crown. Tucson is home to the annual World Margarita Championship, part of the Tucson Culinary Festival. In addition to tequila and mescal, the Agave Fest, held around Cinco de Mayo, celebrates such little-known spirits as sotol, created in Chihuahua, and bacanora, from Sonora. In 2011, Cielo Rojo became the first premium bacanora to be imported into the U.S. and it’s only available in Tucson. Plaza Liquors and the Rum Runner have great selections of all these agave spirits – along with wine and beer. 6. Bang for the buck With the exception of the high-end steakhouses, only a few full-service restaurants charge more than $30 for entrees. Main courses tend to fall into the $15 to $25 range. That’s what you’d pay for a cocktail or glass of wine at many comparable dining spots in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Then there are the happy hours and, most recently, reverse happy hours that start after 9 p.m. (Only in a town where most people go to sleep at 10 – my hand raised here – would these exist.) continued on page 110 >>>

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continued from page 108 Add summer specials, the reward for staying in the city while it’s sizzling, and you’ve got a wide range of opportunities to dine well without emptying your wallet.

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7. Al fresco dining Dining outdoors is one of life’s great pleasures, and heaters and misters make it possible year round in Tucson. Of course, you can always tell the locals from the visitors: In summer and when the mercury dips below 60, we’re the ones sitting inside. And unlike cities where tables are dragged outdoors on crowded streets at the first hint of sunshine, Tucson provides diners with plenty to look at, from the trains tootling by at Maynards Market & Kitchen to the mountain and/ or city vistas that most restaurants in the foothills and many in the northwest have. Historic resorts like Hacienda del Sol and Westward Look add character to the setting. And did I mention the sunsets? 8. Accessibility and attitude It’s nice not having to wait in line or make reservations weeks in advance at most restaurants. Only a few major events like the gem show crowd tables to the point of impinging on our ease of access – and who would begrudge local restaurateurs the business that keeps them thriving? Yes, restaurant service can be lax and unprofessional at times. This is a college town and it’s not always easy to maintain good serving staff, but the general friendliness and willingness to be helpful usually compensates. And you don’t get the kind of oversharing or snobbery that characterize servers in a lot of cities.

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9. Widespread influence Several Tucson pioneers have contributed to – and helped change – the national conversation about food. The title of Dr. Andrew Weil’s latest book, “True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure” is a good summation of the integrative approach towards eating that he popularized. World-renowned nature writer and conservation biologist Gary Nabhan co-founded Native Seed/SEARCH to help the Tohono O’odham Nation locate seeds to grow traditional crops. The innovative New Southwestern cuisine of James-Beardaward-winner Janos Wilder, who often

works with Nabhan, took desert ingredients into the gourmet arena. And in 1999, the Tucson Originals and the Washington D.C. Originals cofounded a movement of restaurateurs working to preserve their local culinary scene against an onslaught of fast-food chains without ties to their community. The national group no longer exists, but the Tucson organization continues to help many of the city’s top restaurants, of all styles and prices, survive and thrive with buying and advertising power. 10. Growth Interesting new restaurants are cropping up at a dizzying pace. That’s especially true downtown, where developer Scott Stiteler has been turning historic real estate into happening dining and drinking spots, starting with HUB Restaurant & Ice Creamery. Stiteler’s Rialto Exhibition Center will soon host Saint House, a rumoriented restaurant created by Travis Reese and Nicole Flowers of 47 Scott fame. It’s already home to Proper and Diablo Burger. James Beard-award winner Chris Bianco chose downtown Tucson to be the second location of his nationally renowned Pizzeria Bianco. And talk about reincarnation – an old funeral parlor is now the super hip (and super lively) Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink. But things are happening up north of town too. Just two examples: In fall, the Hilton El Conquistador debuted its Southwest chic dining room, Epazote, while Fox Concepts’ NoRTH got a new menu and a dramatic redesign. Then there are the moveable feasts. The Tucson Food Truck Roundup got its start on Nov. 1, 2011, and now some 20 to 25 creative mobile kitchens turn up everywhere from midtown to Marana. The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain, recently introduced a food truck too. You know a town has come of culinary age when you can find Korean tacos there. Biz Edie Jarolim’s dining and travel stories about Tucson – and many other places – have appeared in More, National Geographic Traveler, Sunset, The Wall Street Journal, US Airways magazine and other national publications. She is the Zagat editor for Tucson and Contributing Cuisine Writer for BizTucson.


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