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Council learns about local tourism
March 17, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

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Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau

GERING — Members of the Gering City Council got an update on what’s being planned for the upcoming tourism season.

Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCVB), pulled together the report based on information provided by the recent tourism assessment completed in January by the State of Nebraska.

“We’re a destination marketing organization and our mission is to promote Gering as a unique destination to the public,” Niedan-Streeks said. “We have one goal – to get Gering into consideration, whether it’s meeting planners, motor coach tour operators, sports groups or leisure visitors.”

She said their goal is to track all their advertising to determine what ads are drawing in requests for information. And because of a limited budget, GCVB also participates in cooperative advertising with the Nebraska Department of Travel and Tourism to place ads in national and international publications.

Niedan-Streeks said there are some national trends in the convention and meeting market she expects to filter down to the local level.

“Business meetings and conventions are up, but they tend to be smaller and for a shorter time,” she said. “A conference that used to cover three days is now two. The number of attendees has also become smaller, anywhere from 30 – 50 people. And these groups are communicating more than ever on the social network sites.”

She said tourism impact on a community used to be measured only by the amount of lodging taxes it receives. But that doesn’t give the whole picture.

“Lodging taxes tells us motel and hotel usage,” Niedan-Streeks said. “But people shopping, buying gas, visiting restaurants and more also have an impact. We need to quantify how each of those numbers benefits our community.”

She said the Colorado Front Range continues to be a primary source for tourism promotion. Both individuals and businesses want to get out of the metro congestion to a place not far away that offers wide open spaces.

Also, repeat business will be a focus of GCVB. They plan to promote return visits to groups who have already been here and had positive experiences. One showcase opportunity will be in October, when the Nebraska Tourism Conference returns to Gering after a six-year hiatus.

Another recommendation from the state’s tourism assessment that will be implemented this season is the “Ask Me About Gering” program. Buttons with the slogan will be made available to front line workers, such as restaurant servers and business prople. A training program keeps those people updated on what’s going in Gering so they can share the information with travelers through the area.

Niedan-Streeks said they should also get some information from the recently completed downtown redevelopment survey. About 292 people took the online survey and GCVB is currently compiling the data.

Also this summer, a Touch4Information kiosk will be installed at the main entrance at the Gering Civic Center. It will be the second one in the state and will feature 24/7 information on the area for travelers to access.
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