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  1. The Trust of a Community

    It’s difficult to believe that I have been residing in Colorado Springs for nearly two years. I am proud to call this community home and excited with what has been accomplished during my tenure. I’m pleased as I look ahead to 2013, especially after the challenges faced in 2012.

    After my hire at the CVB one of the first tasks to accomplish was to update our strategic plan, which is common in the business world. We were guided through the process with the help of many in the community, which resulted in objectives consistent with our mission of bringing more visitors to Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.

    One initiative of the Strategic Plan points to collaboration and being more of a community leader. One of the most visible projects to take on this role was the development of a regional brand. After a nearly year-long process, with the help of local brand agency Stone Mantel, that goal was achieved. More than 500 people participated in the development of the brand strategy that revealed our city and region as being vibrant, rugged and exceptional. Working with the local creative community and listening to valuable public feedback resulted in a logo designed by firm Fixer Creative Co. that reflects the brand strategy and provides a strategic platform that many organizations and citizens can use to promote Colorado Springs. Thanks to the hard work of many, the CVB has fully adopted this strategy and identity system to promote the region to visitors.

    After our community branded itself, a fire did the same. The tragic events of the Waldo Canyon Fire and the world-wide coverage it received resulted in the misperception that the entire region had burned and our natural beauty had been compromised. The CVB collaborated with multiple organizations that formed a team to help all affected communities keep business doors open and operating, including hotels, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, retail stores, attractions, activities and service providers. The team developed a coordinated marketing and communications recovery plan under the umbrella theme of “Welcome Back”. The campaign’s main focus was to boost economic activity in both the short and long term for the entire region and brand the region as being open for business and open for fun.

    The CVB Board approved funds from our reserve to be invested in this campaign. Individuals, organizations and companies also generously contributed $64,500 to the campaign. With the help of Senator Bennet’s office, the CVB secured a $100,000 federal grant to expand the Welcome Back campaign into 2013. To date the campaign has generated more than 5 million impressions, through online and traditional advertising. Traffic to the VisitCOS website has hit record levels and visitor guide orders continue to be strong through November. This additional presence in the market has generated incremental travel this fall and will continue into 2013.

    Another important objective of the plan is assessing our internal and external customer base. As we currently are a member-based organization, dues provide a stream of financial support in addition to the Lodgers & Automobile Rental Tax (LART). Many CVBs around the country follow this membership model. One of the challenges with this model is that it represents only CVB members to the visitor or meeting planner. After in-depth analysis by staff and the Membership Committee, the CVB Board of Directors has voted to move forward with a partnership model. This model allows us to represent the entire region with Marketing Partners (paid) and Community Partners (non-paid).

    I believe it is important to highlight the fact that the City entrusts us to be the official marketing arm for travel and tourism to the Pikes Peak region; our community entrusts us to lead the development and execution of a consistent brand strategy; and our partners entrust us to market their businesses effectively. Trust is the driver in all we do at the CVB.

    Guided by these strategic initiatives, supported by the City of Colorado Springs and El Paso County, and trusted by our partners and residents, your convention & visitors bureau is positioned to welcome back more visitors in 2013 and beyond.

  2. Evolving the “American Way of War”

    Recently it was my honor to represent our Air Force Academy at the 59th annual National Security Forum at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. The Forum’s purpose is to obtain diverse perspectives of key civilians across the United States while discussing national security issues.

    Nearly 120 civilians participated in lectures on military strategy and the role of air, space and cyberspace power. In addition to faculty from the Air War College, we heard candid briefings from both the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary. 

    In this era of national defense austerity, balance is required. With constrained resources, there’s no room for lack of preparation. We talked about the “American Way of War” and how, dating back to the Civil War, our strategy was to annihilate and force surrender.  But that has changed. The recent air/sea battle in Libya is likely the future of joint coalitions among U.S. forces and allies.

    Of course politics play a role in every war and strategy. No U.S. president ever faced the political consequences of Abraham Lincoln. Today, our defense budget is diminished and threatened by sequestration, while members of Congress say, “not in my backyard.” This comes at a time when Congress is at its lowest level of military experience. Sequestration would mean an additional 40 percent cut in defense spending on top of the current $500 billion in cuts, a catastrophe to our national security.

    We discussed a nuclear Iran. The positive news is that their program is sluggish. For the last 10 years Israel has said Iran’s nuclear bomb is six months away. There is also discord between the supreme leader and the president of Iran. Ultimately, it is the supreme leader who decides their nuclear strategy, not the president. The bad news seems to be their nuclear enrichment continues and they simply need the time and political will to build a bomb. Economic sanctions are not overly effective as it is hard to keep Iranian oil off of the world market. Military prevention is also difficult, especially in this time of austerity.

    My mission in attending the conference is to share a portion of what I learned here at home. I ask our elected officials, city and state, to keep national security interests a priority. After attending, I’ve learned that our military will always have more tasks than resources, but I can assure you this conference also solidified that our military leaders have the resolve to prioritize our interests.

  3. The Bigger Brand Picture

    Hats off to Indianapolis, IN for hosting the Super Bowl this month. From all reports, the city did a first-class job and portrayed itself beautifully for all 111.3 million worldwide television viewers who tuned in.

    The fact that Indy had this rare opportunity to host a Super Bowl is a tribute to the vision their city leaders crafted more than 30 years ago.

    Recently, my friend Mike Moran shared a video clip on Indianapolis, “From Nap town to Super City.” It is a case study if how a city changed its image and built a brand around sports.

    Here in the Springs, we are in the final stages of our year-long brand development. Research tells us Colorado Springs is vibrant, rugged and exceptional. The feeling you have whether you live or visit here is ALIVE. We are adopting the tag line “Live it up” because there are countless ways to in fact Live it up. To see some great ways to Live it up, click on http://www.visitcos.com/55in5  and experience 55 Colorado Springs attractions in just 5 days.   

    In summary, branding a destination is a marathon not a sprint. When the new Colorado Springs brand logo is complete, the work will continue on creating a vision of what Colorado Springs will become over the next 30 years and beyond. Think BIG – what will our city look like in 2042? Fun thought isn’t it! Meanwhile, Live it up!

  4. The Other Side of D.C.

    Just returned from a week in Washington, D.C. on the Chamber’s Southern CO trip to meet with elected officials and key decision makers. After living in the D.C. area for the past 21 years, it was interesting to be on the “other side” in going to visit the Nation’s Capital. In my opinion, this was an essential investment on behalf of our city and region to meet face-to-face with our elected officials. It allowed us to cut through the clutter of emails these people receive and have our issues be heard by people voting on issues effecting our region and nation.

    I had the opportunity to speak to our group and distinguished guests on Wednesday October 12. The key points from my remarks were as follows:

    The current system for securing a visa to get into our country is very difficult. In Brazil you must currently wait 110 days for a three minute face-to-face interview with no assurance of being granted a visa which costs $140 US dollars. In China the wait is 10 days. There are 27 visa waiver countries to date, but more need to be added.

    The US Travel Association urges elected official in Washington, D.C. to join Travel Congressional Caucuses designed to promote common-sense policies to reduce barriers to travel and raise the importance of this job-creating industry. Today, I am asking CO elected officials to support:

    Expanded global entry to the US to include all International Olympic Committee members;Support pilot programs of video-conferencing for visa interviews;Maintain and grow annual appropriations for Paralympics funding with DOD and VA.

    In summary, tourism in Colorado Springs is on a positive projectory. In September 2011, the 12 largest hotels experienced a 21% increase in room revenue over the same month last year. Visitors are again discovering this special place of natural beauty. In the 5 minutes I’ve spoken, more than $10 K has been infused to our local economy. Indeed, Colorado Springs is ALIVE.

  5. Can A Brand Unite Our Community?

    Council Member Tim Leigh and Chamber President & CEO Dave Csintyan

    (Council member Tim Leigh and Chamber President & CEO Dave Csintyan)

    Can a brand unite the City of Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region?

    Did you hear the news this week that nearly 100 people spent 1 ½ days working on a new brand for our City and region?

    100 people!

    The group represented a true cross section of demographics and organizations. Much of the time was spent in small groups coming up with descriptive words to help describe the true essence of Colorado Springs and the region. If you would like to learn more about the process, here are links to two articles:

    http://www.gazette.com/articles/participants-122537-participate-region.html

    http://csbj.com/2011/08/01/business-leaders-meet-to-brainstorm-new-brand/

    I am honored to serve as co-chair of the Mayor’s Brand Task Force for this exciting project. The target date to announce the new brand is mid to late September.

    When complete, this new brand will be a step forward in uniting our city and region with an identity and image can all be proud of.

  6. WOW - What a Week in the Springs!

    Last week was like Super Bowl week for Colorado Springs. From Western Heritage and arts to sports and military, you had your full range of events to chose from because WE HAD IT ALL HERE!

    Think about it – Pikes Peak Hill Climb with a new record time of 09:51, Fan Fest, Bike Fest, Olympic Day, USA Boxing, Broadmoor Open Skating,  Street breakfast, Pikes Peak Art Fest, new Air Force Academy appointees, Donkey Derby Days in Cripple Creek & Victor and the annual Trek to Pikes Peak  by the Range Riders which got derailed a bit by some greenback cutthroat trout!

    Our new mobile app, Colorado Springs Travel Info, made it convenient for everyone to make it from one event to the next. Download it today for your iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android – just go to http://m.visitcos.com for a link to the various app vendors.

    Simply stated, there was enough to keep even the most energetic residents and travelers busy all week long.  I hope everyone was able to take full advantage of the variety of entertainment and gorgeous weather.

    And please invite your friends and family to come and participate in all we still have left to enjoy this summer. There is still time to make your plans for the US Women’s Open (July 4-10),  Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo (July 13-16), USA Pro Cycling Challenge Prologue (August 22) and the Colorado Springs Balloon Classic and Commonwheel Arts & Crafts Festival (Labor Day weekend). For more information on these and other great events, visit our website at www.VisitCOS.com and click on the Event Calendar banner on the home page.

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