Destination branding includes 'storytelling'


Successful destination branding involves storytelling, and Paducah has a good story to tell with its rich history of arts and culture, according to a tourism marketing expert.

"Destination branding is truly a collaboration among local stakeholders, in furtherance of the cultural assets which sets it apart from all the others," said Melissa Cherry, chief operating officer of Destinations International, the featured speaker at Thursday's Paducah Area Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast.

The program, a "Salute to Our Arts and Culture," also served to highlight the contributions of a dozen local nonprofit arts organizations.

Destinations International is the trade association for convention and tourism bureaus (including Paducah's) and tourism boards all over the world. It focuses on four pillars: community, advocacy, research and education.

"One of the largest (pillars) is advocacy, and really being able to talk about why it (tourism) is important and why travel matters," Cherry said, noting the chamber's annual advocacy efforts as part of it's "D.C. Fly-In."

Cherry also acknowledged the importance of Paducah's designation as a UNESCO Creative City, and cultural attractions including the National Quilt Museum.

"The UNESCO designation actually stimulates visitor interest, visitor response," Cherry said. "And, it stimulates sustainability and growth within your city that will allow you to continue to invite these visitors from all over the world and domestically to come to Paducah."

Everyone can play a part in spreading the word about Paducah, according to Cherry.

"We are all storytellers," she said. "We all spend our time telling stories. People don't want to buy 'things' anymore, they want to buy experiences. That's why people travel. They want to get to know the city, they want to experience the destination.

"They want to get to know the people that are there and the stories they can tell."

Key stakeholders involved in the destination branding effort include the tourism industry, elected officials and civic leaders.

All three components have to come together to ensure success, according to Cherry.

"One of the things that our industry really believes in is this cycle of life for a city," she said.

"If you build a place people want to visit, you build a place people want to live. If you build a place where people want to live, you build a place where people want to work.

"If you build a place where people want to work, you build a place where people do business. And, if you build a place where business is, you have a new building, a place where people might visit ... and so the cycle starts over and over again."

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