This week the BDA heard from Brad Jones, Executive Director at Visit Bellevue, on tourism and creating, “inspiring, memorable visitor experiences” in our city.
Jones began by walking the audience through the three pillar agencies under the Bellevue Convention Center Authority; Meydenbauer Center, Meydenbauer Center Theater, and Visit Bellevue. All of these organizations contribute to economic and civic quality of life in Bellevue – and keep people coming back for more! With increases in conventions and events, many hope the visitor economy will become a billion-dollar industry by 2020, and the myriad hotel rooms, restaurants, and retail shops in Bellevue are ready to host.
“Bellevue welcomes the world," said Jones as he went into the ten-year plan to implement five strategic priorities, all of which focus on bringing people into Bellevue and giving them such a positive visitor experience they come back again and again. To do this, we give visitors the voice, make them the marketing team for the city by leveraging social media and review websites like Yelp. Jones explained that it doesn't matter so much how Bellevue talks about itself, it’s what real people taking selfies and writing reviews say that matters. These shared real-life visitor experiences become Bellevue’s brand – a brand built by experiences, rather than perceptions.
Undeniably, there’s more to the equation that just curating visitor experiences; the goal is, “to maximize visitor engagement and spending;” after all, that’s how it becomes a billion-dollar industry. It’s not a shotgun approach, Jones added, it’s a rifle effect of communication; hitting people in different ways and multiple times to see what visitors respond to. By leveraging Bellevue’s icons, sense of place, unique culture and new brand, Bellevue has the opportunity to become a tourist destination all its own, not just a day trip from Seattle.
Find out more about Visit Bellevue.