Double the Travelers Campaign – General Description
Replenish Richmond believes the Community of Richmond will only reach its maximum potential when Richmonders recognize and embrace tourism as the best means of creating a solid economic foundation, both short and long term, for the City and the Region. It has become quite evident that the need for a consistent stream of additional revenue is critical for our local jurisdictions to handle their increased level of financial responsibility. On the very short term, through the end of 2015, tourism is by far the most realistic means of creating additional revenues and income for Richmond area jurisdictions and businesses. When looking long term, a tourism-oriented focus that engages government, business, non-profits and individual Richmonders offers the best opportunity for a consistent stream of additional revenue and income that does not require additional expenditures. Building on the high visibility received from the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War and Emancipation, Richmond has a perfect opportunity to start the process of embracing tourism’s transformational potential with the 2015 World Cycling Championships in September. Replenish Richmond has developed the Double the Travelers Campaign to provide a “business plan” for our community’s embrace of tourism, with the year 2015 seen as the campaign’s springboard.
As the name implies, the goal of the campaign is to literally double the annual number of travelers to the Richmond region versus past year’s averages, which have been around six (6) million visitors. This is certainly not a goal that will be discussed in the boardrooms of our tourism booster organizations like Richmond Region Tourism (RRT) and the Virginia Tourism Corporation (VTC). This is an overly aggressive out-of-the-box goal that will require the support and involvement of all subsets of our regional community. The expectation is that the resulting impact will be a doubling of many of the economic benefits currently provided by traveler expenditures and a significant increase in jobs and travel payroll. Using 2013 VTC numbers for the Richmond Region (in this case defined as the RRT footprint of the City of Richmond and the Counties of Chesterfield, Hanover, Henrico and New Kent), each year we double the number of travelers to the Richmond Region, we can reasonably expect to generate the following new income, revenue and job benefits:
- $2.1 Billion in NEW annual gross income from traveler expenditures
- $231 Million in NEW annual gross travel industry payroll (**Replenish Richmond estimate)
- 10,833 NEW jobs created in the first year & maintained each year thereafter (**Replenish Richmond estimate)
- $77 Million in NEW annual State Government tax receipts
- $59 Million in NEW annual Regional Government tax receipts
- $40 Million in NEW annual Regional Lodging / Food excise taxes (**Replenish Richmond estimate)
While the primary purpose of the Double the Travelers Campaign is the development of a solid economic foundation for the Community of Richmond, it is understood and anticipated that significant positive social development will occur from the community collaboration that goes into achieving the Campaign’s tourism goals. And while the Community of Richmond will be the starting point for the Double the Travelers Campaign, it is intended and expected that the entire Commonwealth of Virginia will participate in and benefit from Richmond’s efforts to Double the Travelers.
Tourism and the Community of Richmond – a Natural Fit
One of the main reasons why Richmond should be a premiere tourist destination is its unmatched historical resume – the RVA is quite literally the most influential and historic community in America. Equally impressive as Richmond’s unique combination of 400+ years of groundbreaking history and associated historical attractions is its complete set of world class community amenities including:
- The incredible James River, including its rapids, its trails, its fish, and its bald eagles.
- An equally incredible collection of cultural institutions and venues including the internationally acclaimed Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia War Memorial, Virginia Historical Society, Science Museum of Virginia,The Valentine, The Virginia Holocaust Museum, and the Carpenter and Altria and November Theaters.
- Festivals and events all year long celebrating Richmond’s diverse cultural and ethnic diversity, including the Richmond Folk Festival, Carytown Watermelon Festival, Church Hill Irish Festival, First Fridays and the Second Street Festival.
- Richmond’s vibrant artistic and creative community.
- An eclectic collection of neighborhoods, monuments, parks and public spaces.
- An exploding and nationally recognized restaurant and craft beer & cider scene.
- Sports of all kinds including NASCAR, Richmond Flying Squirrels, Richmond Kickers, Anthem Richmond Marathon, Dominion Riverrock and the 2015 World Cycling Championships.
- Proximity to Charlottesville, Fredericksburg, Petersburg, Williamsburg, Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens; 90 minutes to the mountains, the beach and Washington DC.
A key component of any successful tourism agenda is a high level of return visitors and Richmond’s comprehensive collection of attractions should guarantee that travelers return again and again. Another important component of a successful tourism agenda is accessibility to travelers and Richmond might be the most accessible American City, period. Start with the 1,300,000+ Richmonders who live in the region; most of whom have yet to truly experience what is available in their home town. Then consider the 8 million Virginians, most of whom have never visited their Capital City. Next in line are the tens of millions of Americans in the mid-Atlantic region who are within easy travel distance to Richmond using Interstates 95 and 64, as well as Amtrak, Greyhound and Megabus. Finally, factor in Richmond International Airport and all of the potential national and international travelers and you have a remarkably accessible community.
Best of all, embracing tourism as an economic and social development tool offers a complex set of financial and social multipliers for Richmond. The beauty of tourism is that while traveler expenditures create significant income and revenue for our community, this income is not dependent on significant expenditures in return. Travelers are soon on their way, so they do not require us to expend money on new schools or roads or social services. So, to summarize:
- Richmond offers every conceivable means of engaging and entertaining travelers of all ages and giving them many reasons to return.
- Positive attention to the City of Richmond and the Richmond region has been steadily increasing for several years and will reach a crescendo with the 2015 World Cycling Championships.
- Richmond is regularly accessible to millions and millions of potential travelers.
- Tourism offers significant economic and social benefits at a time when our needs are great and there are no other realistically viable alternatives.
- Richmond and Tourism – It’s a No-Brainer!
Double the Travelers Campaign – Formal Objectives
Objective #1 – Invest and involve all Richmonders in the Campaign
Doubling the number of travelers to the Richmond Region is an extremely aggressive goal that can only be accomplished by a community with Richmond’s tourism pedigree. A goal of this magnitude requires the support of organizations like RRT and VTC, but must first gain the growing support of the many subsets of the Community of Richmond. Therefore, the first objective of the Double the Travelers Campaign will be to get all Richmonders – individuals, businesses, clubs, schools, organizations and governments – to express their pride and support of their home community by becoming Richmond Travel Ambassadors, encouraging and facilitating their families, friends, business associates and colleagues to visit Richmond as often as possible, starting in 2015.
Towards that end, Double the Travelers proposes a multimedia marketing campaign designed to reach out to all segments of the Community of Richmond offering many reasons and incentives to become a Richmond Travel Ambassador and encourage others to do likewise. The Marketing Campaign will have several components including:
- An ongoing series of radio and television Public Service Announcements using well known Richmonders / Richmond Advocates from all walks of life encouraging every Richmonder to get involved in Double the Travelers. Well known Richmonders and Richmond region advocates possibly to include:
- Terry McAuliffe, Dwight Jones, Tim Kaine, Mark Warner, Ed Ayers, Shaka and Maya Smart, Ben Wallace, Jason Mraz, Oliver Hill Jr., Elliot Yamin, Justin Verlander, Jim Ukrop, Sabrina Squire, Denny Hamlin, Ed Trask, Jason Alley, Tim and Daphne Reid, Shirley MacLean, Warren Beatty, Patricia Cornwell
- Another series of PSA’s using historical impersonators encouraging every Richmonder to get involved in Double the Travelers, possibly including:
- Maggie Walker, Elizabeth Van Lew, Henry “Box” Brown, Dr. Daniel Norton, Patrick Henry, William Byrd II, Bill “Bo jangles” Robinson, Lewis Powell Jr.
- A similar series of print ads in newspapers and magazines along with posters, hand-out flyers, table tents at restaurants
- A Double the Travelers website offering information, ideas and connections
- A coordinated approach using e-mail and all available social networking sites to reach out to individual Richmonders
- A growing list of businesses and organizations that agree to promote participation in Double the Travelers to their employees, clients and supporters
- The Double the Travelers Cheerleaders Program > Engage the thousands of Richmonders who are or were cheerleaders to help energize the Community of Richmond for this very important Campaign. Reach out to Richmond university and public/private high school cheer teams to spread Double the Travelers to their school’s students, staff and parents – hold Double the Travelers rallies and events.
In terms of incentives, Double the Travelers will ask Richmonders to formally sign up and become a Richmond Travel Ambassador, agreeing to do what they can to support the Campaign. In return, Travel Ambassadors will be eligible for a growing list of prizes and incentives designed to expand their interest and involvement in the Campaign. All registered Travel Ambassadors will be eligible for ongoing random prize drawings and will be invited to participate in Double the Travelers festivals and events. In addition, Travel Ambassadors will be rewarded based on the success of their “travel agent activity”. Prizes and incentives, including discounts at local merchants, will be solicited from the Richmond business and retail merchant community. Richmond’s Travel Agent Industry will be solicited for help and tips to offer to Travel Ambassadors. Other ideas related to the Richmond Travel Ambassador program include:
- New tourism idea contests with prizes donated by community partners
- Richmond Travel Ambassador of the Year Award – with awards event and prizes
- Each year accept nominations for Travel Ambassador of the Year based on an individual’s work to support Double the Travelers
- Richmond Travel Ambassador Recruitment events – social / information events to introduce Double the Travelers and the Richmond Travel Ambassador concept
Objective #2 – Proactively “recruit” travelers to Richmond
One of the major differences between the Double the Travelers Campaign and traditional tourism marketing is that Double the Travelers will proactively “recruit” travelers through direct invitation and travel facilitation. While many more “recruiting” initiatives will be developed, Double the Travelers has initially defined six different traveler recruiting initiatives:
Engage the Locals Initiative
This initiative will reach out to the 1.3 million people who live in the Richmond Regional Community in an effort to introduce them to the power of Richmond’s historic and cultural attractions. We want Richmonders to better know and appreciate their home community – Richmond. Ideas include an incentive program for Richmonders who visit a certain number of historic/cultural sites as well as merchants; “Chesterfield County Day in Richmond” – discounts from merchants for people from Chesterfield who show their ID (repeat for all local jurisdictions); contests for locals to win a special Richmond tour.
Visit Your Capital Initiative
This initiative will reach out to the 8 million people who live in the Commonwealth of Virginia in an effort to introduce them to the power of Richmond’s history – their Capital City. We want Virginians to better know and appreciate their Capital and understand its influence on their lives, wherever they live in Virginia. A special program will be developed to reach out to Virginia’s student population with a goal of getting every Virginia student to visit their Capital City. Other ideas include “Roanoke Days in Richmond” – discounts from merchants for people from Roanoke area who show their ID (repeat for other communities across the Commonwealth); contests in different Virginia localities to win a trip to Richmond and a special tour of the Capital of the Commonwealth.
Understand Your Religious Heritage Initiative
Richmond is the home of religious freedom in America and this initiative will reach out to all people of faith with specific attention to Baptists, Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians – Christian denominations that suffered serious splits and internal strife in the years leading up to the Civil War and the Emancipation. Members of these churches and all faiths will be invited to come to Richmond to better understand their religious heritage with a collective eye to the future. Double the Travelers will engage faith leaders throughout the Richmond Region in an effort to create many different reasons for people of faith to travel to Richmond. Ideas include churches in Richmond inviting churches in other states to come to Richmond for a long weekend visit, acting as their hosts and guides; creating a “heritage tour” for each denomination, running through Richmond and Virginia.
Celebrate the Emancipation Initiative
2015 is the 150th Anniversary of the end of the American Civil War and the true emancipation of all enslaved Africans and this initiative intends to maximize travelers to Richmond during 2015 with specific programming to accentuate Richmond’s powerful racial past; including Shockoe Bottom and slavery, Jim Crow, Maggie Walker, Massive Resistance and Doug Wilder. Reconciling our country’s many troubles and problems related to race and ethnicity will be an important building block for our collective future. Richmond can and should lead that effort as it holds all the answers. Ideas include a series of intellectual tourism packages designed to give travelers access to the information and sites that are important to them, with special attention to reaching the African American community and the international community.
Richmonds of the World Initiative
This initiative will reach out to Richmonders in the 90 other communities around the world named Richmond, including the 66 communities in the United States and Canada. Richmonds of the World (ROTW) is a new global community collaboration that was conceived in Richmond VA and has declared 2010 to 2019 as the Decade of Richmond! The Decade of Richmond kicked off in 2010 when Richmond British Columbia helped its neighbor Vancouver host the Winter Olympics and continued with the 5 year Sesquicentennial in our Richmond. Richmond upon Thames (our namesake) helped London host the 2012 Summer Olympics and in 2015 Richmond Virginia hosts the World Cycling Championships. The Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School is leading the ROTW charge and will be investing and involving Richmond Travel Ambassadors to reach out to Richmonders from across the country and around the world to invite them to our Richmond.
Make Richmond a Bicycle & Pedestrian Friendly Community Initiative
This initiative will reach out to the growing number of bicycle enthusiasts across the region and across the nation and will help Richmond prepare to host the 2015 World Cycling Championships. Double the Travelers will work with the Richmond bicycle community to identify potential bicycle tourism routes and will support infrastructure improvements to make the City as bike friendly as possible. Ideas include bicycle scavenger hunts and events that highlight Richmond’s trails, including the many James River Park trails and the Virginia Capital Trail.
Objective #3 – Proactively prepare Richmond for an influx of travelers
The third objective of Double the Travelers will be to inspire and facilitate investment in the physical infrastructure enhancements necessary to handle the influx of new travelers to the Community of Richmond. The regional community of Richmond, especially the City, is in the midst of a serious upgrade of our tourism infrastructure with many new hotels and a hostel coming on line in 2015. Doubling the travelers will certainly require that we continue this upgrade with new hotels, motels, hostels and other accommodations and services. Equally important, the Community of Richmond must develop a comprehensive and accessible transit system that makes it easy to get anywhere in Richmond without using a car, including several circulator routes connecting travelers to all that Richmond has to offer. It is expected that once the Community of Richmond embraces the Double the Travelers Campaign, it will see these infrastructure enhancements as investments in our collective future.