Posted At: October 18, 2013 10:37 a.m.
by Sarah de Jong.
Imagine a city of 60,000 that has been featured in O, the Oprah Magazine, Southern Living, Men’s Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, The Boston Globe and dozens more. You wouldn’t think this city would need to be rebranded, right? Well, the Greater Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau did.
According to Jennifer Stilwell, VisitGreenvilleSC chief marketing officer, Greenville attracts more than 5.3 million tourists a year. Last year was Greenville’s “best year” for tourism. In March 2013, the staff thought they could do even more to grow the tourism industry in the newly popular city.
“Greenville is a new city that is just starting to be discovered. There is literally something here for everyone — whether you love food, the outdoors, arts and culture, there is a variety of activity at every price point. The growth on a monthly basis here is tremendous. You could visit one month and come back a month later and have 10 new places to discover,” said Taryn Scher, whose firm TK PR, handles all publicity for VisitGreenvilleSC.
What Greenville? That Greenville.
Formerly the Greater Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, VisitGreenvilleSC debuted a new logo (shown below), website, social media, visitor’s companion and full-on rebranding campaign for the city. What’s the name of the campaign? “Yeah, THAT Greenville.” VisitGreenvilleSC wants people to know that even though there are 34 other cities named Greenville in the U.S., this is that Greenville. It is the city to live, play, work, eat, drink and be merry in.
“VisitGreenvilleSC is cool. It’s very reflective of Greenville. It’s hard to package the ‘coolness’ of an area into a name, a brand, but VisitGreenvilleSC sounds and looks a little more cutting edge than our old name,” said Scher.
Social media storm
The hashtag #YeahTHATGreenville is taking over Twitter and Instagram. In August, VisitGreenvilleSC launched a new website, built with a back-ended content management system (CMS) social module to curate social media posts in real time, according to Scher. It features social media content that has to do with Greenville and posts it on the website.
“’Yeah, THAT Greenville’ is all about storytelling. People in Greenville love being here and experiencing Greenville. People go out of their way to share stories. So it was only natural that we developed a method to share all of the great experiences people are enjoying in Greenville — each unique to the individual. We want to curate authentic experiences on a regular, frequent basis from both residents and visitors,” Stilwell said.
It is the first website of its kind in the tourism industry. Also, its social media feeds have been revamped for the campaign. Most of the time, when you hashtag #YeahTHATGreenville on Twitter, you will get either retweeted or replied to by the VisitGreenvilleSC Twitter account.
“Greenville is on the forefront of a new trend of integrating user-generated social media to build destination awareness. In fact, it’s not just on the forefront; the social CMS was built just for Greenville,” said Scher.
Big numbers, a bigger return
According to The Greenville Journal, the promotion is costing $450,000 and the re-branding of the agency $100,000. But this investment seems to be paying off. Since January, hotel occupancy in the city has risen 10.2 percent. Also, requests for visitor’s guides have increased 270 percent since the launch of “Yeah, THAT Greenville.”
“VisitGreenvilleSC has worked hard to attract meeting planners and conferences to the area as well as national media outlets. We find so often that a person goes home and tells one person about the incredible experience they had here, and suddenly the phone chain starts leading one to the next. We’ve had an opportunity to host a number of huge national organizations for their annual conferences and sporting events that have brought in thousands of people to Greenville who otherwise probably wouldn’t have discovered this place,” said Scher.
With the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, Falls Park downtown, the Swamp Rabbit Trail, thriving food scene and festivals, Greenville has something for everyone. The city is located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains but has a cosmopolitan feel. Foodies, art buffs and outdoors lovers can unite in Greenville. The new brand helps the city cater to each kind of tourist.
“We don’t just focus on one particular message — that’s the awesomeness of the brand ‘Yeah, THAT Greenville’ — it means something different to everyone who experiences the destination. For one person it could be Yeah, That Cycling and for another it’s Yeah, That Art Gallery. We love that we’re allowing visitors and locals to take ownership and feel a part of the movement. Rather than us telling the story, we’re letting our fans tell it for us,” said Scher.