Indianapolis trying to lure Chicago visitors

Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:49 a.m.

cbb-indianapolis.jpgMcClatchy-Tribune Newspapers | Indianapolis’ call for Chicago summer leisure travelers will be much stronger than it was the past two years.

Indianapolis tourism officials have ramped up marketing threefold in
Chicago, the highlight of an eight-city advertisement blitz that began
this week and runs through August. The blitz is $1.34 million, which
equals what Indianapolis spent in 2008 and 2009 combined for summer
promotions, the association said.

Warren Wilkinson, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, said Wednesday the potential Chicago market for the Indianapolis message will increase from 21 percent last summer to 61 percent this summer.

Association spokesman Bill Benner said 323,000 of the 740,000 people who visited Indianapolis after seeing last year’s campaign were from Chicagoland.

Last year’s campaign was focused only on Chicago, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Louisville, Ky. This year, these cites were added to the list: Columbus, Ohio; Lexington, Ky., Peoria/Decatur and Champaign/Bloomington, Ill.

The added spending comes after the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation in January gave the association a grant of $5.4 million over three years to sell the city as a travel destination.

The family is a primary source of funding for the $450 million, 1,600-room Marriott Place hotel complex under construction Downtown. Also, Mayor Greg Ballard in January announced an extra $1.5 million this year to promote conventions and tourism.

Indianapolis-area venues to be promoted include many Downtown ones plus The Children’s Museum, Conner Prairie, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Each visitor spent an average of $195 in 2009, compared with $226 in 2008, according to a report by Carmel-based Strategic Marketing & Research Inc.


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