Tag Archives: Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Omaha is a 52-Weekend Destination

September 18, 2018 by

When a Minnesota mom was looking for a December weekend getaway, she looked toward Omaha. Yes, you read that correctly: December and Omaha. Greta,* a blogger living in Minnesota, visited Omaha during the summer a few years ago. When she and her husband were looking for a fun family winter destination that was drivable, affordable, and offered lots of activities for their 18-month-old son, they thought Omaha fit the bill. And they were right—Omaha is a great winter destination for a weekend getaway. (Omaha is south of Minnesota…winter is all about perspective isn’t it?)

The city’s major attractions are all open year-round and offer unique indoor experiences during the winter months. When Greta and her family visited Omaha’s zoo last December, they had more than seven acres of indoor exhibits to explore. There weren’t huge crowds to compete with her toddler for great views of the animals. While she can’t pinpoint a favorite exhibit at the zoo, her son’s favorite spot was the aquarium. She loved the specially designed areas in the aquarium allowing her son to feel like he could almost reach out and touch the fish.  

The family also visited The Durham Museum during their Christmas at Union Station celebration. The magic of the holidays came alive as they explored the historic train cars, discovered how a train depot works, and bellied up to the old-fashioned soda fountain. It was a much different experience than she had during her summer trip.

When we look at research completed by Tourism Economics, an Oxford economics company, visitation to Omaha peaks in the second and third quarters as you would expect. In the fourth quarter, visitation is lower as the kids go back to school and winter sets in. But here is why visiting in the winter can pay off: hotel rates are generally lower and attractions are typically less crowded. 

Visit Omaha has created a new 52-Weekend advertising campaign to drive home the message that Omaha is a year-round destination for families, couples, and friends to get away for a long weekend. The ads are running year-round in Minneapolis; Kansas City; Des Moines, Iowa; and Sioux Falls, South Dakota—cities that are an easy drive away. From January through March, the number of people going to Visit Omaha’s website to plan a trip increased by 25 percent from residents of Minneapolis, 17 percent for those from Kansas City, and 9 percent from residents of Des Moines.

Omaha is not a city that hibernates during the winter months. The more Gretas who know that, the more business will be generated here. So, the next time someone asks you about the best time to visit Omaha, let them know it is any of the 52 weekends out of the year.

*Greta Alms is the blogger behind Pickles Travel Blog. Greta asked to partner with Visit Omaha last December. Her travel adventures, including her post about Omaha, can be found at picklestravel.com.


This column was printed in the October/November 2018 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.

It’s True, Tourism Touches All of Our Lives

January 19, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Astonished. That’s the word that describes colleagues, friends, family, and groups when they learn what tourism looks like in our city. Ask a family member or friend to guess how many visitors come to Omaha each year and chances are their answer will not even come close. New research shows 12.3 million visitors travel to Omaha each year—that’s more than the total population of Portugal or Greece. They visit for weekend getaways, to see family and friends, to attend conferences, sporting events and concerts, and to conduct business. And while here they spend money. Visitors spend $1.2 billion every year at our restaurants, attractions, hotels, retail shops, and other enterprises. Their spending contributes to our local economy, tax revenue, community development, and other important benefits we all enjoy.

Visitor spending also creates jobs—17,280 of them. One in every 17 jobs in Omaha is supported by visitor spending, which means you probably know someone who has a job in tourism, or has a job thanks to tourism. In fact, tourism is the eighth largest private sector employer in Omaha. 

Still don’t think your life is touched by tourism? Let’s talk taxes. Taxes generated by visitor spending saves each Douglas County household $730 per year. If visitors stop coming to Omaha and stop spending their money here, your taxes would go up or the current level of government services would go down. We would also see a significant number of jobs lost in the tourism industry if visitors did not show up.    

You can help Omaha’s tourism numbers grow even bigger. Keep inviting family and friends to visit. If your business, association, or industry hosts meetings, conferences, trade shows, reunions, or any other special event, invite them to Omaha and provide an economic boost to our economy.

After seeing the numbers, people get it—tourism is a big deal and a great deal for our city.

Visit Omaha can help.

If bringing a meeting home seems overwhelming to you, Visit Omaha, Omaha’s official tourism authority, is here to help at no cost.  Visit Omaha has the expertise and resources to help make your meeting or event, a success. Check out visitomaha.com/meetings to start planning your event.

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

This column was printed in the February/March 2018 edition of B2B.

Omaha Tourism Trivia

August 26, 2016 by

With the College World Series and U.S. Olympic Swim Trials in the city this past summer, out-of-town visitors were front and center, but do you know how many out-of-towners visit Omaha during a typical year?

Take a guess:

A    250,000

B    1.2 million

C    750,000

D   11.9 million

If you guessed B or C, you are like most people we ask, but the answer is D. According to research conducted by Tourism Economics—an Oxford Economics Company, 11.9 million visitors come to Omaha every year. We define a visitor as someone who travels to Omaha from more than 50 miles away. About 60 percent of those are day visitors, folks who travel in from places like Shenandoah, Iowa, to go shopping, out to eat, to see their doctor, or to take in a performance and then return home. The other 40 percent are overnight visitors—people who come to visit relatives, families who want to enjoy a long weekend getaway, fans who travel to Omaha for sporting events or concerts, convention delegates, and business travelers. While we at the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) don’t have much control over where your relatives live, or with whom you do business, we do have an impact on leisure travelers and convention delegates.

Our convention sales team focuses on bringing convention business here. They travel the country promoting Omaha to groups such as the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives, which met in Omaha in July. The organization is made up of 200 associations that also hold meetings throughout the year, so this one meeting could garner even more convention business in the future for the city. Last year alone, the convention sales team was responsible for 291 meetings here in Omaha, and those meetings brought in more than $125 million to our local economy. 

Our marketing team focuses on building Omaha’s reputation as a great leisure destination, a place where families, couples, and friends can enjoy a fun getaway. In addition to purchasing national advertising to brand Omaha as a visitor destination, the marketing team also targets the drive market, a 250-mile radius around Omaha. A 10-month-long regional advertising campaign in Kansas City, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls paid off. According to independent surveys conducted by Scarborough Research, a total of 402,212 visitors from those cities came to Omaha for an overnight visit during 2015, a 9.3 percent increase over 2014. Think about it: if each of these visitors spent $100 while in Omaha, that’s a $40 million payoff for our city.

So next time you’re on Jeopardy and they ask how many people visit Omaha each year, aim high…we do. B2B

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

Keith Backsen is executive director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Old Market Business Association

March 25, 2016 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Potential business owners often dream of being independent and making their own decisions. Businesses in Omaha’s Old Market district have that freedom.

“We’re not in a mall where one management company organizes us,” says Troy Davis, the group’s president. Davis has owned Curb Appeal Salon & Spa at 10th and Jackson streets for 17 years.

At the same time, the business owners are not isolated. The common thread between these independent companies is the Old Market Business Association (OMBA).

The OMBA has neither office nor staff. But the nonprofit does have 50 members who meet monthly and share information about what’s going on in the historical business district. There are two member categories. An active member must have a business located at either side of 10th to 14th streets and Leavenworth to Farnam streets. Businesses outside the area can join as associate members.

Troy Davis

Troy Davis

They’ve got each other’s backs. In January, when a fire destroyed M’s Pub and devastated nearby businesses, the OMBA immediately jumped into action. Member David Kerr of The Tavern started a crowd funding page for the displaced employees within 12 hours of the disaster. Members called an emergency meeting and discussed how they would help.

“We’ve always been a tight-knit group, but it really shows in times of tragedy,” says Davis. “The whole Old Market community came together for the businesses, their employees, residents, and everybody who was touched by the tragedy.”

Shoplifters in the Old Market also face a band of brothers and sisters. “Within minutes, the police department notifies the Old Market Business Association, and we immediately notify members,” says Davis.

Sharing information at the group’s monthly meetings are representatives from the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau, MECA, the Downtown Improvement District, and the City of Omaha. Representatives from major events, such as concerts or conferences, also attend.

“We learn what groups are coming to Omaha, where they are staying, the demographics and how many [people], so we can be better equipped to take care of those people,” says Davis.

Another major member benefit is the website—oldmarket.com—which collected more than 170,000 visits last year. The website is a perk for members who can advertise their business and promote specials.

The group’s largest and best-known event is the annual “Old Market Trick or Treat.” Held the Sunday before Halloween, the event is a partnership with Metro Area Transit, Metro Community College, the Literacy Council, and a private donor. It provides children a safe place to trick or treat.  A unique event-within-the-event is “Books Are A Treat.” In October 2015, 12,000 new books—all from a private donor—were handed out to families.

Independent but united through the Old Market Business Association, the active businesses are an eclectic group ranging from galleries to restaurants. Contributing to this independence is the decision by property owners not to rent to franchises in the Old Market district, except those that are locally owned or businesses that started in Omaha.

“Unique, small, independently owned businesses are what makes the Old Market have the charm it has,” says Davis.

“That’s why the Old Market is cool. And the place to be.”

Visit oldmarket.com for more information.

Sharing Omaha

June 16, 2015 by

This article appeared in in the summer 2015 issue of B2B.

Of the 318 million U.S. citizens, can you venture to guess how many use social media? The answer came at a recent eTourism conference—67% of us in the U.S. are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms to connect with our friends, family, and favorite products. What is interesting for tourism is that most people use social media to brag about their vacations, and, as the official agency in charge of inspiring visitors to travel to Omaha, we love that.

Currently the Visit Omaha Facebook page has nearly 100,000 followers. Facebook provides the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau (OCVB) with a platform to promote Omaha, and it allows residents and visitors to easily share Omaha’s story with even more people. The OCVB social media strategy is simple—showcase Omaha as a visitor destination, or, in other words, inform people why Omaha is worth the trip. And more people are spreading that message than ever before—thanks to Visit Omaha followers, 6.6 million Facebook users were exposed to the Visit Omaha message in 2014.

Two-thirds of Visit Omaha’s Facebook fans reside outside the metro-Omaha area. In fact, the page has fans from 44 different countries, including Germany, Italy, and India. Visit Omaha fans range in age from 13 to 65-plus, and the majority of them are women (62%).

The Visit Omaha social media presence extends to a number of other platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Visit Omaha also uses creative ways to engage and encourage the social media audience to share Omaha’s story. One way is with the Omaha Weekend Insta-map, which invites visitors and locals to take pictures of their Omaha experiences and share the photos with us. All they have to do is tag their photos on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #OmahaWeekend, and those photos will automatically populate the Insta-map. And stop by the Omaha Visitors Center to take advantage of our photo booth. Guests can take fun Omaha-themed selfies in our iSnap photo booth and instantly post them to Facebook and Twitter. To date, 1,223 people have shared their photos with more than 112,000 of their friends and family.

You are invited to join the conversation and help tell Omaha’s story – just use #OmahaWeekend on your favorite social media platform. Happy sharing!

Deb Ward

Deb Ward is the director of marketing/communications, Omaha Convention and Visitor’s Bureau

Prepare to Meet Our Makers

May 21, 2015 by

This article appears in the Spring 2015 edition of B2B

Remember these lyrics from the popular television show Cheers:

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got, taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot. Wouldn’t you like to get away….”

The Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau took a page out of the old Cheers songbook and created a marketing campaign based on the premise that everyone does like to get away and that a beer just might be an interesting incentive to convince some folks to get away to Omaha.

What helps is that over the last couple of years Omaha’s craft beer scene has really come of age, offering brews that are distinctly Omaha and worth the trip. Visitors can sample some of the best beers they’ll ever taste created by craftsman who have made beer their life and Omaha their home.

The Omaha CVB partnered with eight area craft breweries to offer the Omaha Craft Brew Explorer’s Journal. Since the goal is to attract out-of-town visitors to Omaha, anyone living outside the metro area can request the Journal, which includes coupons for a free beer at each of the participating breweries. The brewery will stamp the Journal and after visiting all locations visitors can stop by the Omaha Visitors Center and pick up a souvenir pint glass to commemorate their beer journey. To promote the campaign, the Omaha CVB purchased regional advertising—it was a short but sweet 12-week campaign that ended in October of 2014. However the requests keep coming and so do the visitors. As of the end of December, close to 4,000 people had requested the Journals, and many have emailed, tweeted, and Facebook’d to tell us how much they enjoyed their experience.

So just a quick thank you to Sam, Woody, Coach, Cliff, and (everybody say it with me) Norm! You were right. Cheers!

 

Welcome to the Weekend

January 3, 2014 by
Illustration by U.S. Travel Association

“Welcome to the weekend.” It’s a phrase that inspires feelings of relaxation, fun, and the freedom to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. It’s also a phrase that’s stimulating tourism revenue for Omaha.

The Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Welcome to the Weekend advertising campaign promotes Omaha as a Midwest destination for memorable weekends and plays up our strength as a quick getaway for people living in cities such as Kansas City, Des Moines, and Sioux Falls. The campaign is different from your typical tourism advertising, focusing on building an emotional connection with the audience by capturing authentic visitor experiences on video. The commercials aired regionally from late April through early October, on network and cable television, in movie theaters and online on websites such as Hulu, TripAdvisor, and VacationFun.com. In addition, the Omaha CVB partnered with Radio Disney to promote Omaha during Disney-produced community events in Kansas City and also purchased regional radio advertising to promote its Welcome to the Weekend savings card.

Since advertising began, VisitOmaha.com, the city’s tourism website, has seen a 46 percent increase in website visits from the regional markets targeted by advertising. The VisitOmaha social media audience has grown 20 percent to more than 94,000, and more than 6,000 people from 48 states have requested the Welcome to the Weekend savings card.

What’s really exciting to see is since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 35,000 additional weekend hotel room nights booked in Douglas County over last year. Multiply those additional room nights by the average dollar amount a traveler spends in Omaha and it comes to, conservatively speaking, an additional $4.8 million spent in our city. Investing in promoting our city is paying off, and that’s welcome news any day of the week.

Questions or comments? E-mail us at info@visitomaha.com.

Dana Markel is Executive Director of Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

 

Visitors Spend a Record $1 Billion

August 26, 2013 by
Illustration by U.S. Travel Association

Imagine Omaha hosting 40 College World Series events every year—in essence, that’s what actually happens in our city. New economic impact research shows 5 million out-of-town guests visited Omaha in 2012, the equivalent of holding the CWS in our city dozens and dozens of times. But more importantly, the research shows Omaha is no longer a one- or two-trick pony, where people only visit to attend the CWS or Berkshire Hathaway’s Shareholders Meeting. Our city has developed into a year-round destination.

Research conducted by Tourism Economics shows more people are visiting Omaha and spending more in our city than ever before. In 2012, research shows visitors spent $1.025 billion dollars in Omaha, a 13 percent spending increase in two years. As expected, visitor spending is highest during the second and third quarter during the typical summer travel season; however, hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent during other times of the year as well—more proof Omaha’s tourism engine is running full time.

The fact that tourism is a year-round business also impacts each of us directly in the form of tax relief. When visitors eat in our restaurants, stay in our hotels, and shop in our stores, they are bringing new money into our local economy. Tourism Economics reports that visitor spending saves each Douglas County household approximately $655 a year in taxes.

These new numbers make it clear that the more visitors spend, the more we save—simple math that adds up to a big return all year long.

Questions or comments? E-mail us at info@visitomaha.com.

Dana Markel is Executive Director of Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau.

They Get a Great Time. Omaha Gets a Great Return.

February 25, 2013 by

Omaha welcomes about 5 million overnight visitors every year; visitors who come to our city for a variety of different reasons—maybe it’s a business meeting, a college visit, or just a nice weekend getaway. You probably don’t think twice about them, but twice is exactly what you should be thinking.

According to the Nebraska Division of Travel and Tourism, each dollar spent by tourists in Omaha is re-circulated in the economy to produce an additional $1 in business and income, creating an overall economic impact of $2. For example, a tourism dollar that goes for gasoline is spent by the business owner to pay the cashier, who then spends the dollar to buy groceries—it’s the multiplier effect.

3723 USTravel TTWFA flyer.indd

Take a Kansas City family of four visiting Omaha for a weekend. They need a place to stay; two nights at a hotel will run them around $200. They don’t have a kitchen; that means they will eat out four to six times while they are here, so add another $280 to their tab. The family plans to go to the zoo; with admission, snacks, and souvenirs, they’ll likely spend $130. While shopping, they spend another $230. Add in incidentals like gas…and when the weekend is over, they’ve spent a total of $1,000. Considering their money doubles as it trickles through the economy—that one family made a $2,000 economic contribution to our city.

A recent Omaha tourism economic study showed overnight visitors drive an additional $1 billion into our economy annually. That’s a significant boost to our city’s financial health!

Too bad visitors don’t wear a big ‘V’ on their shirts so we could thank them personally for their impact on our local economy!

Small Gifts, Big Return

November 25, 2012 by
Photography by Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

As 2012 comes to an end, it’s been a good year for Omaha, and 2013 is starting off in the same fashion. Big events, such as the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January, continue to put Omaha on a national stage and create great buzz for our city. This time of year, we’re also reminded that sometimes the smaller, less shiny things can also be valuable.

Case in point, John Deere and Company held its 2012 North American Dealer meeting in Omaha this past August, bringing with it more than 4,100 overnight visitors. The economic impact of this one meeting was $7.3 million, including more than a half-million dollars generated in local taxes. In 2012, meetings booked through the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau infused more than $25 million into Omaha’s economy.

This illustrates the power meetings have on our local economy in terms we can all understand. It’s been challenging to convey the economic importance of meetings to the local community, but we now have a new way to accurately calculate the impact and pass this important information along to the public.

In partnership with Destination Management Association International, the Omaha CVB has developed a new system of calculating the economic impact of meetings in Omaha and their value to the city and its residents. A trained researcher is now on staff to determine the impact and provide details, including the amount of money spent by visiting participants, meeting planners, and exhibitors, along with the taxes generated by the meeting. The Omaha CVB will calculate the impact for all meetings booked through its office and will provide the service to other entities interested in determining the value of meetings at their facilities.

Happy Holidays, and here’s to a new year of toasting Omaha’s economic health.