What makes Indiana truly a great place to visit?
Mark Newan: Indiana is a state of under told stories. One of the things that we have that we can focus on is this amazing geographic diversity from the hill country of Southern Indiana along the Ohio River corridor to the dunes country along the shores of Lake Michigan. Indiana looks different from bottom to top, and when you travel there you have different dialects, foods, places to visit, and a terrain and a geography that is dramatically different.
It really makes the places you go in Indiana very special. There's a true opportunity for discovery here that I think, in many cases, Indiana's discounted for. One of my jobs is to sort of elevate the image and profile of our state to be able to demonstrate that great diversity, and to illustrate all the wonderful assets we truly have.
What is the economic impact of tourism in Indiana?
MN: The travel tourism and hospitality industry is very important, and today we know that travel tourism and hospitality generate roughly ten billion dollars in economic impact in our state through direct and indirect spending.
It's a significant contributor, but as it relates to quality of life matters and what travel tourism and hospitality represent to just a great place to live as well as being a great place to visit. It's one of those things that cannot be discounted in the economic development conversation.
What makes businesses relocate to Indiana?
MN: When CEOs, decision-makers, and site selectors are making decisions about places to relocate businesses or grow businesses, they first visited that place as a leisure traveler. They had a sense for it at a different level than they do as a business decision-maker. They have certainly number of incentives they need to consider: does this make sense for my business?
But at a more human and personal level, is it a great place to live? Is a place where I can see a workforce thrive? That's what the travel tourism and hospitality industry are contributing to that process.
That's the part that really resonates with the spouse, the worker, or the workforce when they're thinking about, ‘Can I live in that place? Does it have the qualities, characteristics, and allure that I need in order for me to be happy and successful, and for my family to be happy and successful?’
How is Indiana tourism reaching out to people?
MN: Certainly investing in mobile, social, or digital media is important, but there's still a large segment of our society that embraces the use of print as a way to learn what we have or to get their messages.
We still use a printed travel guide very effectively. We print a half million to those on an annual basis, but we have a strategy in place enables us to put it directly into the hands of the consumer who have a propensity to spend and a desire to travel in leisure way to experience new things like the assets of Indiana. We figured out how do we get to those households in Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, or Louisville.
We know how to target those households and how to reach them, so of that half-million printed travel guides we produce, half of those are actually going direct to households to motivate travel through that medium. You also have to have a means to keep that initial outreach and connection sticky, so what you’re talking or sharing with them stays in their consciousness. We're in the process right now of developing a consumer brand for Indiana that we think will resonate and unify our state from top to bottom.
It's a brand that truly defines who we are as the Hoosier State. In many ways we're sort of a disconnected state because Northern Indiana, Central Indiana, and Southern Indiana regionalize us. We think we'll have a brand here that in the next few weeks we will be able to announce it.
It truly unifies Indiana and paints the picture of who we are as a state, and sort of pulls that blanket off of us so that we’re able to promote Indiana in a much more robust way.
Where can people find more information about Indiana Tourism?
MN: We maintain a Facebook page. We've developed a pretty strong Facebook community. We’ve also have a really strong Twitter community. When I leave here I'll be Tweeting about my experience in Valpo. The travel guide is a great way to do it. We've also developed a tablet version as well. You can download our travel app called “Travel Indiana.”
The other thing is using our website http://VisitIndiana.com where you can actually do trip planning if you have an interest in seeing other parts in Indiana. We will actually help you construct your ideal Indiana trip. We will be on billboards, television, print, and on radio. Our objective is to pull this blanket of the state of Indiana and truly promote this asset and everything that we have to offer in the way that it should be.