Tag Archives: Omaha CVB

Omaha Offers a Travel-Worthy Food Experience

July 26, 2018 by

There are numerous reasons why visitors travel to Omaha. Some are in the city for business or a convention, while others come for an extended weekend getaway to see attractions like the zoo and museums. But there is another reason Omaha is growing in popularity—our food.

In every corner of the city, you’ll find authentic cultural culinary creations that make Omaha quite the foodie destination. You can eat pizza certified by the Italian government at Dante in West Omaha and savor a steak prepared by a James Beard Award nominee at The Grey Plume in Midtown. In North Omaha, nobody does soul food like Big Mama’s–just ask the folks at the Travel Channel. And, despite a culture of fast food, in South Omaha you’ll find the Lithuanian Bakery, where bakers take three days to make a mouth-watering old-world Napoleon torte. 

 Having restaurants that offer such unique cuisine is the cornerstone of building Omaha’s travel-worthy reputation, an equally important component is letting visitors know about our great food scene. In April of this year, Visit Omaha hosted a Foodie Blogger tour to see how many bloggers would be interested in telling Omaha’s story—25 bloggers expressed interest. Out of those 25, Visit Omaha selected four bloggers with the most impressive audience numbers and invited them to enjoy Omaha’s food scene on us. 

The bloggers traveled from Missouri, Iowa, Ohio, and Minnesota. They visited Monarch Prime and learned how the restaurant dry-ages its steaks in-house. They took a culinary class at Provisions by The Grey Plume and experienced making their own pasta. The bloggers also enjoyed samplings at half-a-dozen foodie hot spots on an Omaha culinary tour. They did not leave disappointed; each was impressed with their Omaha dining experience and now plans to share Omaha’s story with a hungry audience of more than 357,000.

 The economic impact when visitors explore Omaha’s food scene is huge. Research shows that out-of-town guests spend $304 million every year on food and drinks while visiting our city. Those dollars help keep people in our community employed. These people—from wait staffs, to chefs and their kitchen staffs, to the drivers delivering the supplies to the restaurant—all have jobs thanks, in part, to all the tourists spending their money here. 

If it has been a while since you have had an evening out, give Omaha’s food scene a try. Omaha Restaurant Week (Sept. 14-23) is a great opportunity to try a new restaurant, or a new dish at an old favorite. After all, if people are traveling from places like Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, and Ohio to sample the flavor of Omaha, it’s definitely worth the trip outside your neighborhood. 


Visit omaharestaurantweek.com for details.

This letter was printed in the August/September 2018 edition of B2B.

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

Omaha is 120 Years Old (In Tourism Years)

May 15, 2018 by

The year of 1898 was a huge tourism year for Omaha. It was the year that an event lasted five months and attracted 2.6 million people from around the world—the Trans-Mississippi and International Expo, also known as the Omaha World’s Fair.         

It was no accident that Omaha played host to this event; it was all by design. The tourist attraction was the innovative vision of a small committee of local businessmen who understood that tourism meant big business and could provide a boost to the local economy. The fair had an economic impact of almost $2 million dollars, an equivalent of more than $54 million by today’s standards.  And it all started with a small group of business leaders with an idea.

Omaha has a long history of small committees doing big things. In 1950, four men who loved baseball had the vision to bring the NCAA Men’s College World Series to Omaha—Ed Pettis of Brandeis Department Stores, Morris Jacobs and Byron W. Reed of Bozell & Jacobs, and then-Mayor of Omaha Johnny Rosenblatt. The first games played in Omaha had a total attendance of 17,805. Over the years, College World Series of Omaha Inc., a local nonprofit organizing committee, was formed to sell tickets, plan special events, and rally community support for the series. Today the average attendance is more than 20,000 people per game.

It was the belief of a local woman, Lisa Yanney Roskens, and her love of horses that played a big part in Omaha hosting the 2017 FEI World Cup Horse Jumping and Dressage Finals. While there were many people involved, she played a key role in presenting the proposal to the international committee members in Lausanne, Switzerland, and convincing them that Omaha was the right place to host the event. More than 50,000 people from around the world attended the competition, putting the city on an international stage. 

Junkstock is another Omaha event that started with an idea from Sarah Alexander, a stay-at-home mom with a passion for vintage pieces. She envisioned a place where junk enthusiasts could find some of the best antiques and repurposed art in the region. Junkstock started in 2012 with 29 vendors. This fall more than 200 vendors and 23 food trucks will be on site to welcome more than 10,000 guests through the gates. To accommodate the demand, Alexander purchased Sycamore Farms, a 135-acre century-old horse farm which now hosts three premier junk festivals every year. 

Some of the names you may recognize, while others may not be as well-known. Each person named helped with events that brought thousands of out-of-town visitors to our city and millions of dollars to our local economy. And they all started with an idea, a few creative minds, and faith in Omaha as a destination.


This column was printed in the June/July 2018 edition of B2B.

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

Take a Vacation and Create Jobs

March 23, 2018 by

When is the last time you took a vacation? I mean a real vacation, not just time off work to paint the kitchen or clean out the garage. Has it been a while since you’ve discovered a new place or experienced a new adventure you couldn’t wait to share with family and friends? If the answer is yes, you are not alone.

In Nebraska, 66 percent  of the workforce has unused vacation time. They’ve left 4.9 million vacation days on the table. Nationally, if everyone took all the vacation they’ve earned, it would generate $236 billion for our economy—enough to support 1.8 million jobs.

Think about it: if hotels had more guests, then they would need more staff. If restaurants had more diners, they would need to order more food from suppliers and hire more people. If retailers had more shoppers, they would need more merchandise to keep shelves stocked and more staff to provide great customer service. Inviting more people to visit Omaha would have the same effect in our community. You get the picture—tourism means business.

According to research from U.S. Travel, taking time off makes you a more positive and productive employee. In fact, the research shows employees who use their vacation time are more likely to get promoted and receive raises when compared to those who choose to forfeit their vacation time. Plus, and here’s the real bonus, people who take time off feel happier and enjoy improved physical health.

If you’re still not sure about taking time off, think about it this way: by taking a vacation, you’re helping create millions of jobs and providing a big boost to our nation’s economy. Now add that to your resume.

*Research provided by U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off, The State of the American Vacation.

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

This article was printed in the April/May 2018 edition of B2B.

Building More than Bridges

May 19, 2017 by

Omaha is home to some big players in the architecture, engineering, and design world. Companies like HDR, Leo A Daly, and DLR Group are a few that call Omaha home.

Our lives are touched daily by the work they do. If you’ve driven on the West Dodge Expressway, used one of our state-of-the-art medical facilities, or enjoyed the ambience of a coffee shop or hotel, then you understand the magnitude of their work. But few realize the role they play in helping us bring conferences, meetings, and events to our city. 

The tremendous success of Omaha’s business community is also a great asset in helping Visit Omaha bring conferences, meetings, and events home. It’s one of the reasons our city recently hosted the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives for their annual convention. This group is made up of more than 200 influential scientific and technology associations, which are now more familiar with Omaha and may choose to bring a future
meeting here.

In 2016, thanks to local businesses and people like you, Visit Omaha hosted more than 342 meetings, events, and tours that brought more than $229 million into our economy. Visit Omaha also booked an additional 186 events for future years, worth more than $86 million. These are big numbers and showcase tourism’s impact on our city. But local business operations also win. Conventions such as CESSE can shine a light on an industry, help recruit future talent to our city, or even inspire a new business to set up shop here.

We know your endorsements often lead to meeting groups choosing Omaha, and we encourage you to bring your next event home. Our team at Visit Omaha can help you think through the details, provide expertise on hotels, venues, and attractions, and create a successful event that benefits both you and the city.

When you build these types of relationships, you’re building more than bridges.

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

This column was printed in the Summer 2017 edition of B2B.

Omaha in the Palm of Your Hand

October 24, 2014 by

Think how many times you used your cell phone today. According to research from the Pew Institute, 90 percent of all Americans own a cell phone and 44 percent of us sleep with it next to our beds so we don’t miss any calls, texts, or emails.

So it’s no surprise to hear that more than 40 million consumers have used their phone to figure out and plan their next vacation.

The VisitOmaha mobile site has seen explosive growth in just the last two years. In 2011, a little more than 11,000 visited the mobile site. Last year that number grew nine-fold to almost 200,000.

To answer the growing mobile demand, the VisitOmaha site is now enhanced with new user-friendly features including:

  • Yelp reviews providing the visitor access to independent restaurant recommendations.
  • Intuitive mapping features that allow visitors to search for what’s nearby.
  • A comprehensive calendar of events making it easy for users to find out what’s going on in Omaha.
  • An online booking engine, which provides visitors the ability to search a variety of Omaha hotel options all at once and then book directly with the hotel of their choice. This feature also allows users to view hotel availability two months at a time so they can compare rates surrounding their selected dates—all from their cell phone.
  • The VisitOmaha mobile site is also a great resource for locals, providing them with an easy way to find new places to eat and different things to do.

Despite our mobile society and our desire to have instant access to information, you may find it interesting that, in addition to the growth of the VisitOmaha mobile site, requests for the printed Omaha Visitor Guide are up more than 9 percent over last year. The visitor still values that printed brochure. Mobile or print, as long as visitors are holding Omaha in the palm of their hand, we’re happy.

Dana Markel is Executive Director of the Omaha Convention & Visitors Bureau. Questions or comments? Email the Omaha CVB at info@visitomaha.com

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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.

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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!