Destination Branding – What It Is and Why It Matters

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A new era for tourism is emerging as we plan for the post-pandemic world with an eye on sustainability. At the heart of destination branding is a well-told story about what makes a place unique, welcoming, and memorable. A good story articulates a place’s distinctive traits while at the same time builds affinity and excitement.

As The Place Brand Observer notes, destination branding is more than just economic development, and it encompasses in fact a range of metrics including the local community’s well-being, the livability of cities and towns, and the general feeling that the stakeholders share about how well these initiatives are actually performing.

To successfully position a destination, one must certainly emphasize local landmarks and iconic attractions, but at the same time think strategically about what visitors might remember a week, a month or a year later. Also, since tourist attractions don’t exist in a vacuum, equal emphasis should be placed on investing in local communities. As one tourism authority once put it, a happy place will attract happy people or people who want to be happy.    

Heritage destinations have always been popular. In addition, visitors are also looking for off-the-beaten path experiences, and occasionally insider tips to make the most of the experience. Content creators, mindful of these trends, will have to keep in mind that visitors are interested not only in memorable moments but also in how the experience itself will make them feel.

According to Destination Analysts, a tourism market research firm based in San Francisco, when planning a trip, people do prefer to consult with family and friends, but also review websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, and travel business websites like hotels, attractions, and airlines.

Greater Roxbury Business Association (GRBA) Celebrates Its Seventh Anniversary This Summer

GRBA Seventh Anniversary

This year the Greater Roxbury Business Association (GRBA) celebrates its seventh anniversary. The organization was founded in the summer of 2012 by a group of entrepreneurs who identified the need for the Town of Roxbury to have its own coherent business group to promote local businesses in a cohesive fashion to ensure the economic vibrancy of our communities.

The founding of the organization coincided with the implementation of the Town’s current Comprehensive Plan, which was adopted in May 2013. The Plan identified a number of positive as well as negative elements that characterized the local economic climate.

Strengths included:

  • Small town atmosphere and friendliness;

  • Historic rural environment;

  • Attractive Main Street with distinguished historical architecture;

  • Outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking, skiing and golfing;

  • Air and water quality.

Weaknesses included:

  • Hamlets are disconnected;

  • Lack of cohesiveness and coordination;

  • Lack of a common marketing plan for tourism activity, lack of economic development, lack of Main Street businesses;

  • Lack of incentives for retail and restaurants;

  • Not enough hotels.

The Esopus / Delaware Study, which was conducted around the same time, also identified a series of challenges: lack of business training, lack of social media expertise, lack of customer service skills, limited social infrastructure for youth, not enough promotion of cultural activities.

Since its founding in 2012, GRBA has made its mission to capitalize on the Town’s assets while at the same time address some of the shortcomings identified both in the Town’s Comprehensive Plan as well as The Esopus / Delaware Study. The first organizational task we set to accomplish was to increase awareness of existing businesses in the community; afterwards, we worked tirelessly to improve coordination and communication across the board to create a focused agenda and spearhead economic vibrancy within our town and throughout the region.

The overall vision for Roxbury as outlined in The Town’s Comprehensive Plan has been to maintain its historic character, ambiance and quiet lifestyle while expanding economic opportunities and increasing local businesses, particularly those “oriented to tourism so that the town is known as a historical, recreational, and cultural destination.”

The Greater Roxbury Business Association has positioned itself as the Town’s marketing arm while launching Visit Roxbury campaign to promote the Town and support its economic development. Over the past seven years, GRBA has increased the Town’s visibility through a series of initiatives, has provided business training opportunities for local business owners, and has coordinated tourism-related activities that make Roxbury a destination.

As this year marks GRBA’s seventh anniversary, the organization has been awarded a tourism grant that will make possible the acquisition of a new logo, the design and distribution of a rack card with map included, and the production of two guidebooks with itineraries that will help visitors explore the area. These are exciting developments that will make us stronger as a business community.

None of us could imagine Roxbury today without the Greater Roxbury Business Association. We’re looking forward to many more years to come.

Learn more at visitroxbury.com.