Friday, September 4, 2009

Business Committed to Meetings, Just Not This Year

A new survey released this week by Forbes Insight (the research arm of the publisher of the famous business magazine) shows while leading executives still believe in the power of face-to-face meetings, they are not showing their enthusiasm in spending approval for such gatherings.

Eight-four percent of the more than 700 decision-makers surveyed in June said they prefer such conferences as opposed to web conferences, video conferences or teleconferences. However 58 percent of those polled said they are traveling less frequently than in January 2008.

The study also found that virtual meetings work best for information dissemination and data presentation. For more details (

This survey suggests that meeting destinations try their best to offer the best of both worlds to meeting planners. For instance, the METS Center, Northern Kentucky's premier high-tech conference center (, is advocating web conferencing which allows meetings to take place but can also utilize technology so the event can be broadcast globally to hold down widespread travel costs. In the end, the economic impact to the community might be down but it allows meetings to take place, which does provide some relief to local coffers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Support For the Value of Meetings

ASAE, the American Society for Association Executives is the latest to come to the support of the meetings business after Congress took issue with corporate meetings practices by insurance group AIG and others this spring. ASAE has launched a new public awareness campaign.

ASAE's actions follow those of the US Travel Association which created the Meetings Mean Business Campaign talking about the unintended consequences of putting hourly hotel workers in the unemployment lines by discouraging meetings with what some thought was a "broad brush" mentality.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rust Belt Decline Affects Economy in Different Ways

One of my newest volunteer jobs is mentoring 19 chapters of the American Marketing Association located in the Southeast, the Atlantic region and the Midwest. Yesterday (August 13), the Wall Street Journal detailed the decline of Rust Belt cities ('Fastest Dying Cities' Meet For Lively Talk, outlined in its coverage of a meeting held recently in Dayton, Ohio attended by representatives from ten cities in Ohio, Michigan, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. While there was some venting going on, attendees bemoaned the fact that many of their residents ignore that there is actual good news not being reported in their economically-challenged towns. Four of the ten towns represented at the meeting have AMA chapters that I advise.

It got me thinking about the toll self-loathing takes when residents become discouraged and despair over the loss of jobs and population in their town. I see this in talking to the AMA chapter Presidents who become frustrated when they have board members who complain about how things are without offering solutions to the economic problems which result in marketers being laid off, which affects the membership rolls of these chapters as these volunteers can't afford to renew their membership dues. Marketers are among the best (or worst) at generating buzz. This can work to your advantage when things are going great. But when things are bad, as they have been in our society the past year, it can make a bad situation worse.

The meetings business, which helps pay my bills faces the same situation. No one wants to travel to a destination that is in decline. A bad economy in their mind also translates into a desperate citizenry which can fuel concerns about safety and other matters.

It seems to me that while problems that each of our cities face (plodding decision-making by leaders, bad local economic policies, etc.) can't and shouldn't be ignored, residents should think about victories that have occurred recently in their city (a new business relocating there, a national award won by the chamber of commerce). More importantly, if they don't like something that is happening in their city or neighborhood, they should get involved in the process to make things better. It's easy to get negative and see the things that should be changed before we look at the positive. I think it's importance to achieve a balance and raise our hands to lend a hand to further progress.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Super Region Talk Resurfaces

A panel discussion I attended this week hosted by the Cincinnati Business Courier (the local weekly business tabloid) revived talk of a super region linking Cincinnati and Dayton. The speakers discussed the types of industries that are good fits for the region (logistics, medical distribution, space medicine, etc.). Information such as this is useful for future planning for my employer, the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau. As the Bureau analyzes burgeoning industries coming to our area, it creates opportunities to host associations that promote those industries. If economic development officials are looking at coaxing companies in a particular field here, words filters around the industry that our region might be a good place to consider having a future annual meeting. Transportation in general seems to be an untapped market given the comments of the panelists who point to the I-75 corrider (the most traveled north/south interstate in the eastern half of the US), the Ohio River, as well as potential rail routes. This trend bears watching by local convention leaders.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Travel Centers tell the story

The gentleman who runs the Kentucky Welcome Center in Florence and is one of the biggest tourism advocates in NKY has some interesting insights into 2009 vacation migration patterns. Jeff Thoke says they are noticing more travelers opting for extended weekend getaways, shorter in duration from what has been seen in the past. Theory is the tight economy is prompting this as well as work demands increasing. For instance, if you work for a company that has laid off people that generally means you are doing the work of two or three people. Jeff says people's length of time away prompts the idea that some are using psychological means to making short vacations seem longer. In the typical situation he encounters people leaving home for vacation on a Thursday or Friday and driving back through on a Monday, creating two shorter work weeks.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Swine Flu Scare Creates Resentment

As if the meetings industry doesn't have enough to worry about.

First it was the economy. Then it was the congressional outcry against incentives meeting brought on by the AIG controversy. The latest crucible facing convention planners is the swine flu outbreak. The World Health Organization declared an H1N1 flu pandemic today-- the first global flu epidemic in 41 years. Nearly 30,000 cases have been reported in the US, Europe, Australia, South American and elsewhere. This will speed up the funding of research into and hopefully production of a vaccine as well as money for containment.

Proper perspective and restraint is required here. The WHO reports 141 people have died from the flu with only 27 perishing domestically (the other 117 were from Mexico). Seasonal flu kills half a million people annually. When is the last time the press reported this disparity. Certainly, precautions should be made to enhance the risk of spreading the deadly virus. Wall Street Journal editorial writer Daniel Henninger says there is great concern in the use of pandemic, particularly as the media uses the term in future reporting (

I attended a convention of convention publicists last month in Kansas City. There was no shortage of hand-wringing over the media glare over this issue. Today's news will not help the situation.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NKY Development Project Enhances Destination Stamp

I recently heard a presentation on a multi-million dollar development project that should give Northern Kentucky another means of attracting visitors and investors. Manhattan Harbour is planned for Dayton, KY along the Ohio River and covers 143 acres, stretching more than a mile-and a half and will include residential, commercial and retail space as well as a marina with spa and fitness center along with a 160-room hotel, a concert stage, restaurants and shops. Even more tantalizing is the fact that this development will be a showcase of technological advances using "smart" technology to improve the lives of residents and visitors. The project should be completed in the next two to five years. This will be a dynamic venue to show off to tourists and convention guests.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Leadership 301

Kevin Smith of the Food Network, taking upon the cooking theme of the AMA Leadership Summit, talked about adding spice as a leader using a PEPPER acronym:

  • Passion (bringing energy and imagination to all tasks)
  • Emotional Intellegence (not just keeping emotions in check but having an awarenes of your gifts
  • People Leadership (relating well to others in achieving goals)
  • Prudence
  • Education and Learning
  • Relationships

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Leadership 201

Part two of Michael Smith's talk about Leadership in Marketing from the American Marketing Association Leadership Summit:

Michael spoke about servant leadership and asked the crowd to focus on how make people feel not on what you say. He also quoted Winston Churchill, "We make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give."

It is interesting in the marketing field to examine our leadership in the context of not how we position ourselves and our organizations at the front of the pack but how we can serve the interests of others and help them reach their goals, perhaps even before we act to suit our interests.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Leadership 101

Day one is over at the American Marketing Association Leadership Summit in Chicago. For the uninitiated, the Summit is what I refer to as the "Amway Convention" for AMA Boards of Directors for the Association's 75 chapters around the country.

I will be filing the first of three reports on the talk of keynote speaker Michael Smith who spoke tonight on the topic of "Building a Brand One Bite at a Time: Lessons in Marketing and Leadership." Michael is Senior Vice President of Marketing, Creative and Brand Strategy for the Food Network.

The first component of Michael's talk on which I'll center is not so much about leadership but about what it is that makes our work fulfilling. He stated the three things that work should provide is meaning, complexity and autonomy.

Let me expound upon each. Meaning is important because at the end of the day we want our work to matter for something. We want to feel as though we've added joy to others' lives or contributed to the company's sustainability.

Complexity relates less to the human element and relies on our ingenuity in problem-solving. Autonomy is the antithesis of micro-management. If we feel free to solve problems, gaining the end result without worry that our bosses will try to convince us we need to do it a certain way, we feel less constrained, and can move on to our next obstacle, taking pride that we solved this dilemma on our own.

TOMORROW: Servant Leadership

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interesting Results for Cinti Riverfront District Naming Contest

A few days ago I told you voting had begun on naming the under-construction Cincinnati riverfront district which has been known as The Banks. That name and three others have been culled from choices brought forth earlier by the public. So far with more than 2,200 votes, most people think keeping things as they are is just fine. Forty eight percent favor keeping that name while 25% like the name Roebling Point, with 20% for River District and North Shore pulling in last at eight percent. You can weigh in by going to the develop's website ( and voting but you have to do so before midnight on Monday, April 20th.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Travel Journalist Trade Group Spreads Its Wings on Thinking Out-Of-The-Box Attendance Building

Any doubts about how worried meeting planners are about the impact of the economy on attendance at trade shows? I have never heard about a group partnering with airlines to discount fares for attendees. Take a look at the email I received yesterday from the North American Travel Journalists Association (


NATJA is offering a discount of 10% off airfare on AirTran!!! This discount applies to anyone attending our Cleveland Conference June 2nd-5th. For more information about the conference, visit us online at
Act now to save by simply using the code listed below.
AirTran Airways EventSavers Program Congratulations, your Event Planner has registered with the AirTran Airways EventSavers Program. This program offers discounted air travel and unique benefits for conventions, meetings or other events when ten or more individuals are flying into a single destination from different cities. Attendees and Travel Agents should call the AirTran Airways EventSavers Desk at 1-866-68EVENT (1-866-683-8368) to obtain more information about the following features:
A 10% discount on the lowest available AirTran Airways one way fare.
No minimum stay length or Saturday night requirement.
Advance seat assignments at time of booking.
Confirmed upgrade to Business Class, when available, for passengers booking in the “B” and “Y” fare levels.
A one time waiver of Change Fee per reservation for any name or itinerary change, but any applicable fare increase will apply
A single Event Code provided for each event so passengers may book their own reservations at their leisure.
A convenient toll-free number connects you directly to our EventSavers Desk.
Attendees have the option of contacting the EventSavers Desk directly or they may book their reservations through their designated travel agency.
Travel Agents and attendees must book all EventSavers reservations directly with the EventSavers Desk to receive the 10% discount. Reservations booked through a travel agent General Data System or the internet will not qualify for the 10% discount.
Attendees may travel three days prior to the event start date and three days after the event close date if they wish to spend any additional time at the event location.
Receive special EventSavers rates from our rental car partner Hertz, just for being transferred to the Hertz Desk by our EventSavers Coordinator!
To take advantage of this special program, contact the AirTran Airways EventSavers Desk at 1-866-68EVENT (1-866-683-8368) for reservations. All patrons will need to have the listed Event Code and must provide the name of the Event upon booking. Please provide the Event Savers Coordinator with Event Code: CAKDAY060209 (NATJA) start saving today!
Thank you for choosing AirTran Airways for all your air travel requirements!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Voting Starts For Downtown Cincinnati's Most Talked About Development

Let the voting begin! The final stage of public input has begun on the naming of Downtown Cincinnati's much anticipated riverfront redevelopment project in and around the stadia and the Underground Railroad Freedom Center. Up to now, it's been known as The Banks, and that is one of the four choices on which the public can vote beginning at noon today.

I had the pleasure to be on a marketing panel recently to streamline the process for naming the project. I know that the name of the product or development is the first and most important step in creating its identity, which is why the developers are taking the time and energy to get it right.

People are passionate about this subject and the name submission, panel and voting processes helps give Cincinnati a say and ownership of the project. The panel process provided the opportunity for us to share our thoughts and ideas and bring our expertise to the table. We were able to reach consensus on great additional names that we believe represent the broader input from citizen submissions and what will work best for the development. Below is the news release about the final voting process.


Residents Asked for Final Vote on Banks Renaming
Developers Include Residents’ Suggestions

Cincinnati, OH (April 14, 2009) – The Master Development Team of Carter and The Dawson Company announced that the final public voting process began today at 12 a.m. to determine the name for the up-to-$1 billion mixed-use development on the banks of the Ohio River.

The choices are:
1. North Shore
2. Roebling Point
3. The River District
4. The Banks

“This development belongs to the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County,” said Malloy Peterson, director of marketing at Carter. “We want their input to help us choose the best possible name for a development that has come to mean so much to the community.”

Residents interested in defining a piece of Cincinnati may vote at The survey will be live for one week, closing Monday, April 20 at 11:59 p.m. The final result will be available for public viewing and announced Tuesday, April 21.

Members of the development team evaluated the number of votes that each of the four given names received and reviewed more than 650 online submissions from the first round of voting. Many write-ins appeared multiple times or had similar themes, which allowed the team to divide the suggestions into categories. Some write-ins used the opportunity to shorten their favorite name, Riverfront District, to The River District. Other popular entries focused on the development’s location on the river, the Roebling Suspension Bridge and Cincinnati’s location on the “north shore” of the Ohio River.

The team organized a panel of some of Cincinnati’s top marketing, branding and communications experts from business, economic development, tourism and young professionals groups to review the most common submissions and categories from the write-ins. The panel discussed connotations of the submitted names, their favorites and the shortened version of one of the top vote-getters from the previous survey – The River District. After much discussion, the 11-person panel put it to a vote to determine names that would be added to The Banks and The River District.

“This is more than just a new development to the people of this region,” said Tamara Kimble, vice president of strategic marketing & external affairs at The Dawson Company. “This represents the region’s progress and promise for future opportunity, and we need a name that the people can get behind.”

Known as The Banks since its inception, the development is a joint City of Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Carter, Dawson project. Once completed, The Banks will be Cincinnati’s largest single, mixed-use development and be composed of a dynamic blend of residential, office, hotel and retail components. Phase 1A of the riverfront development is under construction and will include a revised street grid, parking facility, a minimum of 300 apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Walking Our Way Along the Ohio

The $50 million dollar proposed Riverfront Commons project spanning five Northern Kentucky communities along the riverfront continues to gain momentum. See the new video created to help generate excitement for what could be to come for the region.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Addition at Newport Aquarium

Just in time for Newport Aquarium's tenth anniversary next month, the Aquarium announced today the first birth of a sharkray...
Newport Aquarium Unveils
First Baby Shark Ray Ever on Display in U.S.

Newport Aquarium – already the site of historic firsts in the study of rare and beautiful Shark Rays – announced today that it will be displaying the first Shark Ray pup, affectionately named Sunshine.

Sunshine is less than a year old, weighs about 25 pounds and comes from Penghu Island, off the coast of Taiwan. It’s believed to be the same place from where Sweet Pea, the Aquarium’s female Shark Ray and the first to be displayed in this hemisphere, came.

Newport Aquarium continues to lead the scientific community in the study of Shark Rays. The Aquarium also initiated the first-ever Shark Ray breeding program in the world. By closely monitoring the growth of Sunshine, Newport Aquarium biologists believe they will be better prepared for any future Shark Ray pups that might be born at the aquarium.

“This was the first time a Shark Ray has ever been transported so far, so young,” says Mark Dvornak, fish curator at Newport Aquarium. “Her size and youth make her an extraordinary animal from which to learn. Newport Aquarium is committed to raising awareness about this species, in the hopes that public education will inspire global conservation efforts – not just for Shark Rays but for all endangered aquatic life.”

Sunshine will be on display in the Coral Reef display, a 60-thousand gallon “tunnel” exhibit through which visitors walk and are surrounded by aquatic life.

This week also marks the fourth anniversary for Sweet Pea at the Newport Aquarium. A two-week celebration from April 4-12 will highlight the species.

For more information on Newport Aquarium or for hours, tickets and directions, visit

# # #

Newport Aquarium showcases thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water. You’ll be amazed at all there is to see and do, including fun and interactive activities, like touching a shark or meeting penguins. Like its sister aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, on the Camden Waterfront, Camden, NJ, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company ( and a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a leader in global wildlife conservation. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located only two minutes from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee. For information, visit or call 859-261-7444.

How old is Sunshine?
Estimated birth is around July 1, 2008, making her 9-10 months old.

How long has Newport Aquarium had her?
She has been off site at the Aquarium’s warehouse facility, where Aquarium staff could monitor her health since December 3, 2008.

How big was she when she arrived? How about now?
She was about 6 pounds and 1.5 feet long when she arrived. She is now almost 25 pounds and a little over 3 feet long.

How does that compare to Sweet Pea and Scooter when they arrived?
This simple chart shows the weights and sizes of each Shark Ray on arrival and now:

On Arrival Now
Sweet Pea Around 40 pounds, 4 feet Around 200 pounds, 6.5 feet
Scooter Around 100 pounds, 4 feet Around 125 pounds, 6 feet
Sunshine Around 6 pounds, 1.5 feet Around 25 pounds, 3 feet

From where did she come?
Sunshine came from Penghu Island, Taiwan. We think it was the same place where Sweet Pea was collected.

What does Sunshine eat?
Lobster, shrimp and a variety of fish.

Will she get as big as Sweet Pea and Scooter?
Probably, but so little is known about the species. By gathering important data about the animal, Newport Aquarium is leading the scientific community in Shark Ray research. The Aquarium also initiated the first-ever Shark Ray breeding program in the world. By closely monitoring the growth of Sunshine, we’ll be better prepared for any future shark ray pups that might be born here at the aquarium.

Will she be part of the Shark Ray Breeding Program?
We hope so, but it could be a long time for her to reach maturity.

How big is the Coral Reef tank where she will be staying?
The Coral Reef tank is 60,000 gallons.

Will she eventually be moved into the big shark tank? When?
It’s hard to say when. It will be entirely based on Sunshine’s growth and her acceptance of the new environment. We’d like her to grow to about the size Sweet Pea was when she was added to the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit (roughly 4 feet long).

Was anything unusual about her journey here?
This was the first time a Shark Ray has ever been transported so far, so young. Her size and youth make her an extraordinary animal from which to learn. Newport Aquarium is committed to raising awareness about this species, in the hopes that public education will inspire global conservation efforts – not just for Shark Rays but for all endangered aquatic life.

How is she fed and will she eventually be trained to “target feed” like Sweet Pea and Scooter?
Sunshine is currently hand fed by a diver. After she becomes more comfortable in the new tank then divers can begin training her to target feed the same way that Sweet Pea and Scooter are fed. But it will likely take some time, since the animal is still so young.

Who will be her tank-mates in the Coral Reef exhibit?
There are two shark species in that exhibit with Sunshine: two Zebra sharks and two Zebra Bullhead sharks. Other fish in the Coral Reef tank include a variety of colorful Indo-Pacific reef fishes.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Airport Results Show Price Does Matter

It's looking more and more like Delta Airline's decision to reduce local air fares as much as 60 percent was a pretty prudent idea. The airline announced airport usage up 30 percent in the first month after the move. Today, officials at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport released results from a survey taken a few months ago about people's thoughts related to local airfares and how it affected flying and DRIVING patterns.
Survey Points to CVG OpportunitiesNearly 17,000 Weigh In On Fares
March 31, 2009 - The results of the Air Service Survey are in, and they point to significant opportunities at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport for carriers that can offer low prices.Of the nearly 17,000 business and leisure travelers in the Tri-State who took the survey, fully 97 percent said they were more likely to use surrounding airports because of price. The informal survey was developed by the Regional Air Service Development Committee, a group of airport, business and economic-development leaders formed to address airline and airport issues within the community. The goal of the survey was to help paint a clearer picture of the region's air travel habits in order to identify service gaps and opportunities for growth. Data collected through the survey will help direct the continuing efforts of the airport to improve fares and expand air service.Committee Chairman Arlyn Easton said, "The survey makes a pretty strong statement. Business people are thinking of costs more than ever. They are being told to use the cheapest flights."Easton said he was amazed at the number of people who participated. "The fact that almost 17,000 people took time to take the survey makes the results even more impressive, and it shows how important air travel is to our community," he said."The survey, without question, reflects that the community will respond positively to lower fares in and out of CVG," said Doug Moormann, vice president of economic development at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "In essence, it affirms Delta's new and far more competitive pricing structure. We, as a community, must continue to protect and nurture our air service, as its value is virtually incalculable." Since the survey was launched, Delta Air Lines announced reductions of 5% to 60% on most fares at its CVG hub. The airport estimates that annual savings to local passengers could total in the tens of millions of dollars.CVG Board Chairman H. Lawson Walker II says that the survey data confirms the wisdom of Delta's fare restructuring. "We are thrilled that Delta - and all the airlines at CVG - are acting on the concerns of local passengers, the business community and the airport."Survey results are available at

Friday, March 27, 2009

Criticisms of Excess Help Polish Image of Midde America

With all the furor over lavish trips and bonuses to AIG executives, there seems to be a growing sense that middle America destinations are getting a second look by travel planners. One executive in the travel incentive industry with whom I spoke recently said many U.S. cities could benefit from a reluctance by corporations to jet their executives and other top producers to international locales and might look at more value-laden U.S. destinations . And some cities, like Pittsburgh are embracing fiscal soundness over flash in their marketing efforts.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Annual Numbers for NKY CVB Take Slight Dip


Pat Frew, Director of Communications
859-655-4163 (w)
513-703-3027 (m)


Covington, KY/March 18, 2009—Officials with the Northern Kentucky Convention & Visitors Bureau have laid out a strategy to overcome the effects of a dismal economy, while issuing the Bureau’s Annual Report showing a rare drop in the organizations’ economic impact to the community.

At today’s 2008 Annual Meeting at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, the Bureau reported an economic impact of visitor’s spending of $306 million in Kenton, Campbell and Boone Counties, down six percent from 2007’s record figure of $325 million. The $306 million impact figure of 2008 compares favorably to 2006’s results of $263 million.

Bureau President and CEO Tom Caradonio says higher fuel costs, cutbacks of corporate travel combined with Delta’s 23 percent cut in flights were the major factors that lead to the decrease. These conditions coupled with a difficult economy, he adds, are not harbingers for a quick rebound in 2009.

“With our Back To The Basics theme for 2009, we are focusing on selling to group markets that offer better meeting potential, such as the sports market, with the Bank of Kentucky Center at N.K.U. fully operational, and religious groups. In addition we have implemented innovations that make the work of our target market—meeting planners—simpler, thereby making us a more attractive destination.”

Caradonio outlined such innovations as mobile marketing technology available through the Bureau that allows planners to communicate information about a conference to attendees cell phones. Single contracts for groups using multiple hotels is another new amenity being provided as well as audio on-line proposals from the Bureau’s sales force.

“All of these changes ensure faster and more meaningful information being given to our clients, helping them to save time and money, two of their most valued commodities,” added Caradonio.

Other statistics released by the Bureau at the meeting included:
The total economic impact to the community as a result of 2006 Bureau initiatives dipped barely at $44.1 million versus $44.2 million in 2007;
The return on investment in Bureau 2007 marketing programs was down slightly, $10.49 compared to $10.90 the prior year. This figures represents how much money is returned to the community in the form of visitor spending per every dollar spent on Bureau marketing efforts;
Corporate travelers remain the largest market segment in Northern Kentucky comprising 41 percent, trailed by Leisure, 35 percent, Meetings/Conventions, 22 percent and Government, 2 ½ percent.

The Bureau also bestowed three awards to the following individuals:
Marie Fuehner, former Bureau Director of Convention Services, who retired at the end of the year, received the Bureau’s Star Award for her work in making Northern Kentucky a vibrant convention destination. Last year, four national meeting planner trade publications recognized Fuehner’s department for its outstanding work.
Greg Buckler was named to the Bureau’s Champions program for helping to lure the Kentucky Jailers Association conference here this coming June creating an economic impact of $316,000.
Darren Wallace of the Hampton Riverfront hotel in Covington was named the Bureau Hero of the Year. The five-year old program has honored more than 40 front-line hospitality workers for their efforts in going above and beyond the call of service to guests.

The mission of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau is that of an aggressive sales, marketing, service and informational organization whose primary responsibility is to positively impact the Northern Kentucky economy through conventions, meetings and visitor expenditures. The direct economic impact of visitors’ spending in Campbell, Kenton and Boone Counties in 2008 was $306 million.
# # #

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Riverfront Bikepath on Front Burner

A stalled project along the Northern Kentucky riverfront had new life breathed into it tonight after a spirited standing room only meeting at the Covington Convention Center. Riverfront Commons is a hiking/biking trail along the Ohio River going through Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Covington and Ludlow. The meeting was organized by redevelopment organization Southbank Partners which is spearheading the effort, which had been stalled by the bad economy and by competing projects around the Commonwealth and nationwide. Southbank wanted to see what kind of public support existed for the effort before deciding to seek $300,000 to hire a lobbying firm to help secure federal dollars for the $50 million project. The project is expected to be an attractive target for economic stimulus money approved by Congress. It would create jobs and spur economic growth in the form of new businesses and added tourists and convention visitors to the riverfront. Southbank now plans to go to leading corporations, community and government groups and the public to gain additional input and hopefully more funding. Additional details coming in the March 6 Cincinnati Enquirer (

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another Effect of AIG fallout

It's not just corporate meetings that are being curtailed. This time it's getting personal. A friend of mine from another American Marketing Association chapter in the east told me last week he lost his job in research at a family-owned business with a national reputation for setting up exotic vacations for C-level executives (things like safaris and fly fishing expeditions). He told me this is the first time in the company's 40-year history that furloughs have happened. Part of it is credited to the economic slowdown but the other part is related to public perception and how investors are now being critical of how and where high priced CEOs are spending their salaries on far flung destinations.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inspiration Worth Noting

I can't recall hearing in person a more inspiring person that 21 year old Patrick Henry Hughes. Few people have seen, strike that, experienced more things this early in life than Patrick. He was born without eyes and without the ability to fully straighten his arms and legs, making him unable to walk. Additionally, two steel rods were surgically attached to Patrick's spine to correct scoliosis. Despite circumstances that seem overwhelming, Patrick has overcome these physical issues to excel as a musician and student. Patrick started playing the piano at the age of only nine months, and also plays the trumpet and sings. He even participates in the University of Louisville School of Music Marching and Pep Bands with help from his father (Patrick John Hughes), who tirelessly maneuvers his wheel chair through the formations with the other 220+ members of the Cardinal Marching Band. Patrick is usually a straight 'A' student, having received only 5 'B's' during his entire educational experience - up to and including his sophomore year of college. A virtuoso pianist, vocalist and trumpet player, Patrick has won or finished very high in numerous competitions, as well as winning awards acknowledging the circumstances he has overcome to achieve these heights. He has been featured on ESPN, ABC-TV, Oprah, CBS-TV, The Ellen Show, Extreme Make Over Home Edition, FOX-TV, CSTV, NBC-TV, The Grand Ole Opry, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Star Magazine, and many, many others. His first book, I AM POTENTIAL, is published and available around the country/world.

Here's his story as recounted by ESPN.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Marketing Spending Could Be Economic Recovery Key

The weather outside was frightful and the forecasts were anything but delightful. Earlier this week as I sat in a meeting recounting the glum 2008 economic picture nationally and at home, the biggest winter storm to hit the Greater Cincinnati area in several years was raging outside.
As about half of the planned crowd of nearly 400 showed up I was reminded that many consumers may be sitting on the sidelines at home instead of doing their part to infuse capital into the US economy this year.

One of the key indicators that analysts outlined in this economic outloook program was consumer spending. When you think about it, marketing plays a key role in helping to drive folks to the cash register. All you have to do is look at what marketers did during the holiday season.

A study released by professional services firm BO Seidman LLP, and recounted in Marketing News, the publication of the American Marketing Association, 32 percent of retail Chief Marketing Officers reported their budgets shrank during the holidays. Forty three percent recounted a status quo on spending while 25 percent actually increased spending.

It's understandable that companies would question the advertising messaging in these difficult times (value added versus price or product benefits, for instance). But if retailers continue to cut marketing (or even other more cost-effective means of awareness-raising such as PR and social media tools) without taking into account the toll on reduced sales, this economic slump may go on well in 2010.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I had a chance today, along with other leading public relations and marketing leaders to sit down at the conference table with Tom Callinan, Cincinnati Enquirer Editor and VP Content and Audience Development today. This was especially timely with the paper recently eliminating one section of the paper and cutting its features section by 25 percent. In a few months, the paper will also slightly reduce the width of its pages.

Overall, Callinan says there are more positives to report than negatives, such as: 1. Despite layoffs of about 30 managers and writers, the paper has actually increased the number of hard news reporters; 2. This news is a little old but I had never heard that Wired Magazine last year cited the Enquirer as a leader in advancing online news and it also ranked as the third largest aggregator of print and web news last year among the nation's 35 biggest papers finishing behind the Washington Post and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; 3. 80 percent of the readers who became subscribers when the Scripps Howard publication disappeared have remained with the Enquirer.

Callinan says many of the cutbacks have prompted complaints but now cancellations (the biggest gripes have come from presumably older readers who don't have cable and don't like the shrunken tv listings). A big worry for him is that earlier business models assumed that as readers aged into their 20s and 30s they would return to reading the newspaper for news about financial planning and paying for college for kids. He says paper analysts now realize that's probably not going to happen.

Bottom line on how people view the paper: His hope is that people see the Enquirer as trying its best to be a watchdog, not influenced in a negative sense by community leaders and organizations but not the enemy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Aspiring Photogs Take Note

After the lull of the holidays, things are picking up at work. The Convention & Visitors Bureau in NKY is getting ready to host the annual convention of the Kentucky Professional Photographers Association (, Jan 22-27. This group has progressively grown in the half dozen or so years we have consecutively hosted their conference. It began meeting here after association officials realized there are as many professional photographers in NKY and Greater Cincinnati as there are in the rest of the Commonwealth.

This year however, the conference takes on even more importance as the event will expand to include the Mid-East States Professional Photographers Association ( which encompasses Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It could double the attendance of our event from 300 to 600. This regional event has never taken place outside Ohio. There's a chance we could possibly host the regional meeting every other year after this.

With the down economy, more people are open to entrepreneurial jobs. If you have thought about going into business for yourself as a photographer, this is definitely a show you should check out. By joining the KYPPA you can attend the whole conference for less than half the price of a new member. Total investment would be $100. Check out either group's web site for more details.