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COVER STORY

Sioux Falls' Visitor Industry Works Together
Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau Annual Visitor Industry Luncheon

Sioux Falls' Visitor Industry Works Together

by Teri Ellis Schmidt
CVB Executive Director


Inside the Visitor Information Center at Falls Park, visitors can find information about Sioux Falls as well as merchandise.
Driven by a passion for Sioux Falls, the Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) focuses on finding new business to bring to Sioux Falls, as bringing back those who have met here before.

From conventions and meetings to bus tour groups and leisure travelers to sports and events of all kinds, the CVB is continuously searching for new groups to work with in selling Sioux Falls as the best city to hold a gathering.

The CVB sales team attends trade and travel shows where planners are seeking cities to take their business, which allows staff to “sell” Sioux Falls to planners on a one-on-one basis. The CVB displays Sioux Falls’ many opportunities, from facilities, hotels, attractions and entertainment, to shopping, dining, air service, etc.

The CVB sales staff also combs through lists of thousands of groups’ information looking for those who will fit into the size facilities Sioux Falls offers. The sales team qualifies leads for new business and then begins the sales process.

Each week the CVB sales staff holds PTF (meaning “Press the Flesh” or “shaking hands”) meetings by calling on local businesses and organizations throughout the community. They share information about what the CVB does, review sales material and talk about any organizations that could potentially bring new business to Sioux Falls. These local contacts have been tremendously generous in their time and willingness to share ideas and information. PTFs have proven to be a very successful sales tool in finding new business prospects.

The CVB is also contacted by organizations who have seen a Sioux Falls advertisement in national trade or travel publications, or because they’ve heard Sioux Falls is a great destination or because they will hold their next gathering in the region.

Sales blitzes are also held in Chicago and Washington, D.C., where the sales staff carries out pre-arranged sales calls introducing Sioux Falls to the organization and asking them for their business.

The Falls Park Visitor Information Center includes a five-story observation tower with a view of the city's namesake, the Falls of the Big Sioux River.
While CVBs are generally the city’s main contact in the eyes of today’s meeting planners, Sioux Falls’ visitor industry works together as a team in pursuing new business as well as maintaining current business. The Sioux Falls Convention Center, Sioux Falls Arena and hotels work hard to sell Sioux Falls as well, and the attractions, events, restaurants, retailers, airport, media, medical, police department, parks department, Mayor and City Council, etc., all join in to be a part of the Sioux Falls package. Whether the CVB is hosting a planner looking the city over or presenting a bid, planners find Sioux Falls presented as a unified team.

The Sioux Falls CVB maintains two visitor information centers offering visitors a variety of information about the community; one visitor center is located in Falls Park and the second is in The Empire Mall.

For the past several years, a kiosk served as the mall visitor center, which was built for the CVB through a partnership with the Home Builders Association of the Sioux Empire. Later this month the CVB will hold an official ribbon cutting to showcase the new larger and more prominent visitor center in the central area of the mall (see sidebar for more information).

The new visitor center highlights the CVB logo and stays consistent with CVB’s colors of red, yellow and purple. The CVB’s most recent video about Sioux Falls runs on a flat-screen television and a variety of visitor industry literature is available to guests from the information rack. The bureau’s official Sioux Falls Visitor Guide and Falls Park brochure are also displayed. Six larger back-lit displays complete the front of the visitor center, including one welcoming everyone to Sioux Falls.

Feedback from local citizens stopping by the new mall visitor center has been very positive. The Empire Mall welcomes approximately 7 million visitors a year. The CVB is fortunate to have an exceptional partnership with Dennis Gilliam, Empire Mall Senior Property Manager, and Chrissy Spoo, Empire Mall Marketing Manager.

Teri Ellis Schmidt
is the CVB's Executive Director
The CVB sales staff includes, from L to R: sales manager Ryan Bak, Sales & Marketing Director Ryan Welsh; and sales managers Aaron Lindman and Mattie Burnham. Not pictured: CVB Sales Manager Cathy S. Buchheim.
Rachael Crane is the CVB Host City Manager and Melissa Heckel is the CVB Creative and Communications Manager.
Members of the CVB servicing team include, from L to R: Receptionist/CVB Assistant Shirley Buseman, Administrative Assistant Kathie Puthoff, Housing Bureau Manager Sherri Jensen and Services Manager Jay Kaltenbach.
The Falls Park Visitor Information Center, managed by the Sioux Falls CVB and owned by the City of Sioux Falls, is open and ready to welcome visitors traveling throughout the tourism season. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily through Oct. 14 and then will be open weekends through April 2011. Information available at the VIC includes the official Sioux Falls Visitor Guide, the Falls Park brochure and the Sioux Falls Visitor Map, as well as information about local businesses and attractions. Sioux Falls souvenirs, from T-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, mugs, blankets, children’s clothes, key chains, magnets, postcards and much more, is offered for all ages and sizes. In 2009, the Falls Park Visitor Information Center welcomed visitors from every state and 50 foreign countries. From April 1-18, 2010, visitor numbers were up by 4,163 people over April 1-18, 2009.

Customer service is a top priority for the CVB. In fact, CVB staff frequently hears from visitors that “the citizens of Sioux Falls are some of the friendliest people in America.” From welcoming guests to the CVB office to accommodating their every need, the CVB is always ready to welcome visitors to Sioux Falls. The CVB rolls out the red carpet to groups visiting here. From offering on-site registration assistance to name badges to city tours and promotional materials, the CVB is committed to service. Every group booking in Sioux Falls, large or small, has the opportunity to utilize the bureau’s services.

The CVB also operates a housing bureau within the organization. Groups such as regional soccer tournaments and national softball tournaments have utilized the bureau, which has all hotel reservations for the event go through the CVB in order for them to maintain the organizational structure of the tournaments. The housing bureau was originally created due to demand and necessity for competing against other cities with housing bureaus.

The CVB’s website, www.siouxfallscvb.com, Facebook page (Visit Sioux Falls), Twitter account (@VisitSiouxFalls) and email communication share the Sioux Falls message to thousands of individuals around the world. The CVB’s logo and tagline, “Sioux Falls, The Heart of America,” was developed by conducting research with meeting planners from around the country as well as local citizens. The colors and exclamation point included in the CVB logo were incorporated to express the energy and enthusiasm of Sioux Falls. Every advertisement created by the CVB includes these colors and the exclamation point. These advertisements are seen all across the U.S.

CVB Mission Statement: To market the city of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, as a one-of-a-kind visitor destination, and to provide premier visitor services, and increase visitor spending, in order to enhance economic impact throughout the community.
CVB Promise: The Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau stands committed to exceeding visitors' expectations. We will provide superior visitor hospitality in the city best recognized as "The Heart of America."


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Sioux Falls Convention &
Visitors Bureau
Annual Visitor Industry Luncheon


Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Sioux Falls Convention Center
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

EDUCATION SEMINAR
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
9-11 a.m.
Sioux Falls Convention Center

EMPIRE MALL VISITOR
INFORMATION CENTER RIBBON CUTTING

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
11:30 a.m.

For more information, contact the
Sioux Falls CVB: 373.2032
As part of National Travel and Tourism Week, the Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) will be hosting a variety of events and activities to recognize those who are part of the local visitor industry. National Travel and Tourism Week has been in existence for 27 years with the goal to expand tourism awareness throughout the entire year.

Mark-Hans Richer
Harley Davidson, Inc.
Michele Wierzgac
Michele & Co.
The CVB will kick-off National Travel and Tourism Week with a Ribbon Cutting at the new Visitor Information Center at The Empire Mall at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, May 11.

The 10th annual Visitor Industry Luncheon is on Tuesday, May 4 and features keynote speaker Mark-Hans Richer, Global Chief Marketing Officer and Senior Vice President at Harley-Davidson, Inc. Richer will be speaking on “Revving Up to Greatness: Don’t Be the Bug, Be the Windshield.”

Also this year is a morning education seminar with guest speaker Michele Wierzgac of Michele & Co. Wierzgac will share about “New Business Markets: 15 Trends Changing the Way We Do Business.”

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