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Council hears about tourism promotion
February 14, 2013 Jerry Purvis   

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Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen - Highway entry signage just 2.5 miles south of Gering lists Gering last, although it is the next exit a traveler will encounter.

Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau, told members of the city council the city has made some big strides in promoting the area as a tourism destination.

From last fall’s Nebraska Travel Conference, hosted by Gering, to the Nebraska tourism ad campaign launched at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, the area is making itself known to a wider audience.

“October’s travel conference met our goal of bringing statewide exposure to the area,” Niedan-Streeks told council members. “The service and hospitality of Gering was able to shine once again. The travel and tourism professionals we hosted took valuable word-of-mouth advertising back home with them.”

She said that during a recent planning retreat, one of the primary concerns that kept coming up was adequate signage to draw visitors off the highways and into the area.

“We outlined some of the signage deficiencies at the entrance gateways to the area,” she said. “We drove around the area, took pictures of the signage and tried to think like a visitor who hasn’t been here yet. Some of those signs need to be redesigned.”

One example she pointed out was that on highway signs where Gering was the nearest exit; the name appeared at the bottom of the sign, below other names.

Niedan-Streeks added the cornerstone for signage should be the corner of Five Rocks Road and Old Oregon Trail/M Street. From there, travelers can go to Scotts Bluff National Monument and Legacy of the Plains Museum, or to downtown Gering, or north to the Riverside Discovery Center.

She said the information they gathered about potential sign improvements will be forwarded to the Nebraska Department of Roads for more input.

She added that some already placed signage has been outdated or is confusing to visitors and updates are planned for the near future.

During the retreat, tourism committee members also spent time discussing “alignment.” Niedan-Streeks said that to them, alignment means taking a look at what Gering already has and making the most of those assets to generate new visitation and new business. That can only be done through working together with other tourism related sites and organizations to develop a unified plan to market the area.

Niedan-Streeks said her group has known for years that our primary marketing target is the Front Range area of Colorado. The group is doing that this year in conjunction with the State Department of Tourism through advertising in several venues at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

“This year the Tourism Commission became an official partner with the stock show and put a significant amount of money into an advertising campaign,” she said. “We got a great, strong presence this year. I think those efforts will continue in the future.”

Niedan-Streeks also said that in April, her group will be one of the major sponsors for the annual meeting planners’ event in Lincoln. That will provide the opportunity for some direct sales to more than 100 attending members.

And over the Memorial Day weekend, Gering will again host the HOG organization, or Harley Owners Group. The owners were in Gering in 2010 and decided to return for 2013.

“You know it when Harley owners are in town,” she said. “They’ll be here for three days and will go on poker runs and have other fun activities. Harley owners from Nebraska and four surrounding states will attend.”
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