Downtown Reno hosts Nevada Tourism Rally
05/12/09 - A bunch of well known folks were downtown today to rally the tourism troops, all in the name of keeping tourism alive and well in Northern Nevada. The usual suspects were there, including the mayors of both Sparks and Reno, Ellen Oppenheim, and Krys Bart from the Reno Tahoe International Airport. As part of the ceremony, the web site www.visitmeinreno.com was unveiled, with the goal of luring more visitors into the region.
Also present were representatives from most of the region's popular events. The rally concluded with a musical number from Menopause, the Musical.
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Posted by: Native - 5/12/2009 6:17:24 PM
I was there. It was lame. Rip-off entertainers singing an idiotic "localized" version of "God Bless The USA". Hot air baloon baskets and women in chaps and leather, all summed-up by "Menopause the Musical". Way to change perception.
They really need to find some way to invigorate their efforts besides relying on us as citizens to do it for them. Sure...times are tough.. but their lack of creativity and innovation is sadly obvious.
Posted by: Wiley_n_Reno - 5/12/2009 11:21:38 PM
I am sorry to say- from Mikes pictures it looks like an episode of Reno 911. Letsd face it, Reno/Sparks needs to examine how places like Boise, Spokane, Colorado Springs, and Salt Lake City attract tourism. The gambling thing is DONE -- except for the big weekends. Having this "rally" in the shadow of the shuttered Fitz and within sight distance of our beautiful cursed King Inn add a touch of irony.
Posted by: Crystal - 5/13/2009 10:13:00 AM
If these are the people charged with the task of bringing tourists to this area, were in big trouble. The other commening people are right. Gaming in this town is dead. Gaming in general is dead. Even the Indian hotel/casinos are hurting. RSCVA is consistently and continually missing the mark. I had this idea, when I was an ad executive, for a visitor campaign called This is MY Reno. Each ad would feature a well known local, in a unique setting they prefer to be in, such as Rancho San Rafael Park or the river area, or a special event like the balloon races, and taken by a professional photographer. Step 1: DISPELL THE MYTH THAT RENO IS A HICK TOWN ALA RENO 911. Step 2: Build the largest museum in Nevada dedicated to western U.S. history. Build it at that surface parking lot across from the Nevada Museum of Art. Build things for families to do besides gamble. Dont just redirect them to Tahoe and say were the gateway to Tahoe. Whatever. Step 3: Build a water park like Wild Island on all the vacant land along Lake Street between the river and where the transit station is going. It would allow kids and adults exiting the ball game to cool off during the summer at a water park.
Posted by: Cooper - 5/13/2009 11:34:22 AM
The event was not what I hoped for, and I would have created it differently, but we have to work with what we have. And that includes moving as far away from Reno 911 as possible.
Gaming is on permanent decline. It will always be a part of our culture and business model, but they days of relying on it as the main source of visitors is gone, the earlier business and government officials recognize that and act to develop a different image of our city the better. It was not the best idea to conduct this rally in that specific spot.
Crystal - not everyone attending necessarily agrees with the concepts presented by those currently driving the decisions. Unfortunately, they ARE the ones currently making these decisions and we have to work either with, or around, them to achieve goals that will enable forward, rather than backward-looking plans and programs. "Step 1: DISPELL THE MYTH THAT RENO IS A HICK TOWN ALA RENO 911." Agree with you 110%. We must demonstrate we are beyond that show. "Step 2: Build the largest museum in Nevada dedicated to western U.S. history. Build it at that surface parking lot across from the Nevada Museum of Art. Build things for families to do besides gamble." Working on it. Economy is making it more difficult than it needs to be, but we're continuing to move forward. "Step 3: Build a water park like Wild Island on all the vacant land along Lake Street between the river and where the transit station is going. It would allow kids and adults exiting the ball game to cool off during the summer at a water park." Maybe not exactly what you describe, but certainly something for the family.
Much of the change we want to see needs to be driven by the community ourselves, not necessarily the business or governmental 'leadership'. If we who care about our city and see its potential identify the programs, events, and community services that would benefit the citizens and visitors alike, then drive these ideas to development, the current 'leadership' can either join us or be left behind. But it's up to us, as is the ultimate success or failure.
Posted by: Justin - 5/13/2009 12:23:31 PM
Crystal....so funny you mention the "this is MY Reno" concept. I honestly was just thinking of something similar the other day. They need to create ad spots featuring people of all backgrounds who are active in the community (just like Mike aka Downtown Makeover Dude). Make it feel like a mini-interview where each person is asked what they love about our city. What's "my Reno"? Catching an Aces Game or play at Pioneer Center with friends, people watching at the Wine Walk, enjoying some of the best all-you-can eat Sushi anywhere in the U.S., Artown, friendly people, 300 days of sunshine, and gorgeous sunsets. That's my Reno, and that's why I live here.
Posted by: Justin - 5/13/2009 2:50:50 PM
Wiley: I'm not sure we should look to Boise for any sort of guidance. Their metropolitan trade area is about 100k more people than Reno/Sparks yet they have lower passenger counts at their airport. Nice city, but definitely not a tourist hot spot.
Posted by: Native - 5/13/2009 5:02:03 PM
No offense to you all, but I disagree with your perspective on this critically important topic:
"Step 1: DISPELL THE MYTH THAT RENO IS A HICK TOWN ALA RENO 911"
You can't dispell what everyone believes...but you CAN use it to your advantage. Sure, no one likes to be associated with low-brow stupidity, but let's face it folks - Reno is known as a trailer park of a destination - ala Fresno. A "cheap" Vegas without the class. And that is totally our fault for positioning ourselves that way for decades.
But we can use that sentiment to our advantage if we're smart enough. Why do you think Reno 911 is so popular? Because it's so funny? Or because it's associated with Reno's brand, which quite frankly, is NOT "America's Adventure Place" or any other catchy slogan we derive that doesn't reflect reality.
"Step 2: Build the largest museum in Nevada dedicated to western U.S. history."
Will that really draw tourism? And who will provide the funding for such an ambitious project in this economy? Let's get real...we're not building any large museums anytime soon (like the next 5 years).
"Step 3: Build a water park like Wild Island on all the vacant land along Lake Street between the river and where the transit station is going."
Again...this is a development issue. If they can't build a water park at the Grand Sierra with all the funding that bank has behind it, what makes us think that some developer will take that risk in the heart of downtown Reno? And frankly, once the kids are wet, where exactly will they go to dry off down there? A casino? A pawn shop?
We HAVE a family attraction...the white water park, and it's working. We HAVE The West Street Market - we have family attractions...and it's changing, albeit slowly. But the image won't change until we embrace it, and move it from what is known, to what we want it to be. And that takes more than slogans and ad campaigns.
What we need is an agency (aka RSCVA) that breaks the mold in tourism marketing, and takes a chance. The kind of chance Las Vegas took when it adopted "What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas".
Acknowledge your uniqueness. Leverage your brand. Reno is quirky and unique. That's what people will believe...and that's what they'll buy (yes...more Reno 911). But saying we're something we're not won't help. And showing the same old same old in today's casino dying market is not the answer.
We need real thinking with real solutions that attract VISITORS, NOT locals. We cannot affect change when public messaging is contrary to our reality. We are not in control of our brand - the RSCVA and business community is. Until we get them onboard, we won't stand a chance of changing our local economy for the better if it relies on tourism (which unfortunately, it does to a large degree).
Posted by: Cooper - 5/13/2009 7:47:07 PM
We as on organization identified Reno/Sparks as a possible location for our business because it has unique characteristics and potential to become a regional center, drawing visitors along with creating a high quality of life for residents. We did not target the area due to any popularity or perception of "Reno 911', trailerparks, or other aspects that could be perceived as negatives and conflict with the mission and goals of our facility. As I recently told representatives of the RSCVA, if this is the image Reno wants to present, we need to re-examine Reno as the location of our project and decide if it is compatible with the image and message of the city. As long as the residents accept whatever decisions are made by the local 'leadership', Reno will never grow beyond what it has become. I, for one, will do whatever possible to create new opportunities unless I see it is a lost cause. I am not a native, so perhaps I don't see things as they actually are; if so, that is my mistake. I do believe that we as residents may not be in control of the brand; but we can influence the direction.
Posted by: Mark W. - 5/15/2009 10:49:51 AM
Native, as a local, I don't want people who visit Reno associating me with the utter dross that is Reno911! While I was in college (out of state,) I cringed every time someone said "Oh, you're from Reno - like the show?" That show is one of the worst things that has happened to this city in a long time, especially as they do no filming here whilst making all the cheap jokes they can at the city's expense. The reason Reno911 works as a show is not because of the context provided by a certain location but because of schadenfreude - people enjoy laughing at others' misfortunes, which is the sole mechanism behind Reno911. It's a scripted COPS with absolutely no reality or risk involved. I can easily agree that Reno is quirky, and perhaps not quite as distinguished as other American cities, but I can't agree that the "hick town" rhetoric is especially appealing to me as a resident, nor do I think that people looking for a good vacation spot are going to see the appeal either. There's plenty of quick-witted individuals and businesses, organizations and groups that poke a bit of fun at Reno's lowbrow history while creating a new image and identity - look at Reno eNVy for one example. I love living here, and I love it because this city is easy to understand. The "My Reno" idea is a solid one simply because it doesn't try to say "HERE IS RENO'S IDENTITY GUYZ!" - it makes the point that there are many options. There's baseball complete with nice new facilities and all, but if you prefer, there's also a whitewater park, and theatre, and roller derby, and clubs, and restaurants. There's cycling festivals, motorcycle street events, beer crawls, wine walks, music, and all sorts of other Cool Things To Do. That's what Reno's got. Reno - not just cheap jokes and trailer parks.
Posted by: christene - 5/22/2009 7:24:04 PM
Old Reno, Tahoe, Truckee, "new" Sparks/Spanish Springs, Montreaux, Arrowcreek... it could be worse. Reno (outside of gambling halls) should just call itself the Truckee Meadows and move on.
Posted by: matto - 5/22/2009 9:00:55 PM
If I might add, I think officals in this town need to market Reno as a big city and promote the big city amenties, and Justin, Reno is BIGGER than Boise, by about 20K, and that's just city. The metro area here is about 420K, but Im sure you already knew that. Reno's metro is larger when you look to proximity, Boise may have more people in their metro, but it's spread out over 20 miles with farms inbetween. But I do agree with you that we also shouldn't look to them for guidance, we have twice as much shopping as they do and we have the lake too. Reno's a cool city and getting cooler, and will only get cooler. Look at Tessera, the Ballpark and UNR district now. Once all this gets done (hopefully) Reno will be hot, and Lucky Strike Lanes is planning a venue in the revamped Fitz, NO the Fitz won't stay dark forever, sorry naysayers. Once the economy returns to it's former glory, Reno will be a hot, metro cool city attractive to visitors from all over the world, with a big skyline, tons of shopping and tons of people milling around. I see Vegas, without us being Vegas.
Posted by: christene - 5/29/2009 9:26:10 AM
We all know the media portrays Reno as a low brow town. There is a negative connotation associated with the word "Reno". It is hard to challenge this negative thinking when events like Hot Summer Nights, national bowling tournaments and a rodeo are what Reno draws to itself.
A new (interactive) museum would be great, I agree. On that note, make Virginia Street a walking museum- cover it, clean it up and remove the cars. Actively promote the West and the Sierras in this tourist area, making the tourist's reality match the local's reality. Make this "new" Virginia Street the Littlest City in the World. Really play it up and CONTAIN it. Let the rest of the area detach and move on. Call the area outside of "Little Reno" or "Old Reno", the Truckee Meadows or Washoe.... something else that is in line with the locals reality and will bring respect and prosperity to the area.