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MAY 5, 2015 - VOL. 50 No. 8

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COVER STORY

What travel means to Sioux Falls
(and South Dakota)

By Amy Smolik
Sioux Falls Area Chamber of Commerce



Travel and tourism is one of America´s largest industries – and South Dakota is no exception.

The Sioux Falls Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) markets the city as a one-of-a-kind visitor destination and provides premier visitor services to increase visitor spending in order to enhance economic impact throughout the community.

Across many parts of the country, May marks the start of the peak tourism season and an official week to celebrate the industry – National Travel and Tourism Week – was established by congressional resolution in 1983 and first celebrated the following year. This nationwide week of events serves to champion the power of the tourism industry.

In 2001, the CVB first held its Visitor Industry Luncheon as a way to celebrate the visitor industry. A number of speakers touching on all facets of the industry have served as keynotes. This year, Roger Dow, President and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association out of Washington, D.C., will speak on "The Impact of Travel: How it Bolsters the U.S. Economy."

"While the visitor industry is a lot of fun, it´s important to remember the positive economic impact our industry has across the community," said CVB Executive Director Teri Schmidt. "Our luncheon is a great way to celebrate everyone who contributes to our economy through their work in the visitor industry. Roger´s comments will serve as a reminder of that influence."

Since 2005, Dow has led the U.S. Travel Association – the national, non-profit organization representing all components of the travel industry that generates $2.1 trillion in economic output and supports 14.9 million jobs. The U.S. Travel Association´s mission is to increase travel to and within the U.S. Its headquarters are in Washington, D.C., with an active presence in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The organization also hosts several major events to provide travel industry professionals with expert information to give them an advantage in the competitive marketplace.

Dow was recognized by his peers as the 2008 Association Executive of the Year, according to Association Trends. The honor reflected Dow´s success in taking steps to unify the travel industry and greatly increase its effectiveness on Capitol Hill.

One of the U.S. Travel Association´s newest initiatives is called Project: Time Off, a research-driven initiative to prove the personal, business, social and economic benefits of taking time off to the American economy, businesses and individuals.


The Dakota Alliance Invitational Tournament is held each June. Photo by Rich Murphy

"Unused days off translate to overworked Americans who are stressed, unhappy and less productive at home and at work," Dow said. "Changing the mindset and behavior of our overwhelmed culture isn´t just a boon for the economy; it´s the right thing to do."

Research from U.S. Travel uncovered that Americans failed to use a total of 429 million days of paid time off. This unused leave costs the U.S. economy $160 billion in spending that could support 1.2 million jobs in multiple industries, ranging from retail to manufacturing to transportation. In 2015, the U.S. Travel Association will continue to conduct and disseminate original research about the benefits of time off. Dow will share more about U.S. Travel Association initiatives at the May 12 luncheon.

POSITIVE GROWTH

The CVB is funded through room taxes and a Business Improvement District (BID) tax. A volunteer Advisory Council and BID Board of Directors oversee CVB programs and budgets. In 2014, the CVB saw increased room tax and BID tax, proving the visitor industry in Sioux Falls is strong. This allowed for expanding sales and marketing initiatives.

"Due to increased funding from the BID tax Sioux Falls is being marketed like never before –targeted advertising in more markets, increased promotional capabilities, additional travel to meet with potential planners and strategic digital marketing at a level being noticed by our competition around the country," Schmidt said.

Improved and additional facilities have also played a role in the CVB´s continued successes in bringing events and conventions to Sioux Falls. Because of the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, more floor space is available for new or expanded trade shows. The Chamber-sponsored Sioux Empire Farm Show utilized the DSPC, Sioux Falls Convention Center and Sioux Falls Arena for the trade show portion of this annual event. New events like the PBR Built Ford Tough Series made their first appearance in 2015.


Professional Bull Riding (PBR) held two sold-out events at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center.

Regular monthly meetings of the CVB Council and activities throughout the year help the CVB stay in touch with members of the visitor industry. Throughout 2014, the CVB hosted events to educate the local visitor industry and welcome guests to Sioux Falls. Each May, during National Tourism week, the CVB hosts two days of inner-city Familiarization (FAM) tours to educate front-line hospitality staff on how to cross-promote Sioux Falls.

The CVB also coordinates welcomes at the Valley Springs Information Center and the Vermillion Information Center. Visitors traveling along Interstates 29 and 90 are provided city information and invited to stop and stay in Sioux Falls. Each October, pheasant hunters flock to South Dakota and fly in to the Sioux Falls Regional Airport. The CVB sets up a welcome booth and secures vendors to provide a "red carpet" welcome to the hunters.

Sioux Falls´ namesake, Falls Park, continues to be a major draw for visitors. The CVB manages the Visitor Information Center. Statistics from 2014 show that visitors came from all 50 states and 49 countries.

"The visitor industry in Sioux Falls is strong and the future appears to be very bright. The industry is committed to working together to increase the number of visitors planning to come to Sioux Falls," Schmidt said. "We are fortunate to have such strong industry partners to work with."


What does the CVB do?

The Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) is responsible for selling Sioux Falls as a destination city for conventions, meetings, sports and events as well as leisure travelers and bus tours from around the world. The CVB acts as an unbiased key to the city, assisting visitors and sports, meeting and event planners in learning what Sioux Falls can offer.

Most importantly, the CVB serves as the official point of contact for meeting and event planners. Planning professionals have access to a range of services and value-added extras through the bureau.

The CVB provides the following services:

•  Site selection
•   Event and itinerary assistance
•   Bid presentations and preparation
•   Professional registration assistance
•   Promotional materials
•   Speaker and entertainment opportunities
•   Tours and city information
•   Attendance builders
•   Customized conference app
•   Off site and special venue information and details
•   Pre and post conference activities
•   Serve as a one-stop shop for meeting planners
•   Become the liaison between the planner and the community
•   Provide availability of meeting space and sleeping room accommodation
•   Help with on-site logistics, including registration and name badges
•   Auxiliary services, such as production companies, catering and transportation
•   Assist with media coverage, press conferences and the announcement of press releases



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