“Doing life different” – that’s the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau slogan, and it begins to embody exactly what makes Ann Arbor unique and attractive to visitors.
“We have a different way of thinking, a different way of living life and a different way of looking at things,” said Mary Kerr, president of the Ann Arbor Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).
“In Ann Arbor, people are not afraid to experiment with new ideas and try new things, mostly because we have a really strong support system for progressive ideas and creative solutions in government, business, education and entertainment,” Kerr said. “Art can be found in every aspect of our community, and our arts and culture scene is a huge part of Ann Arbor’s appeal as a destination for visitors.”
Because of this natural synergy, the CVB has developed ongoing partnerships within the arts and culture community.
“In order to be successful in promoting our city’s cultural gems and prized arts institutions, it is very important for us to work together to build a brand that people associate with arts and culture,” Kerr said.
She noted that Ann Arbor has venues to suit any type of performer or exhibition, which sets the city apart from other cities of its size. Ann Arbor is also home to what is considered several “premier” events (because they attract people from regional and national markets), such as the Ann Arbor Art Fair, which generally draws 500,000 people each year; and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, which has been getting bigger every year and this year had a record-breaking attendance in June of more than 70,000.
“These are very important events that put us into the national spotlight and allow us to grow as an arts community,” Kerr said. “Not only do they bring a lot of people into town to experience those events, but they also experience our hotels, great dining, shopping and arts and culture related institutions. We are bringing people in for these events that already have an interest in what we’re trying to promote. They’re a captive audience, and we need to continue to keep that audience engaged and educate them about what we have to offer so that they come back. Based on the increase in tourism over recent years, we’re seeing that Ann Arbor is a product that is really delivering.”
The CVB also works very closely with Travel Michigan to promote the city’s top-notch arts and cultural offerings.
“We’ve done our best to be cohesive in matching up our brand with their branding and marketing materials that are focused on Ann Arbor, including our Pure Michigan commercial,” Kerr said. “Travel Michigan has a really good handle on what each city in our state has to offer, and there seems to be really clear lines of communication as far as what we would like to highlight when it comes to Ann Arbor.”
Kerr noted that promoting and preserving arts and culture is a large part of any society, be it a state or city.
“It will always be a competitive component to any successful tourism campaign, especially because it is something that is of interest to people in all stages, and in all walks of life,” she said.
Kerr also appealed to the arts and culture community to help the CVB generate tourism activity by keeping CVB up-to-date on events and announcements; making sure CVB has up-to-date imagery to use; collaborating with others in the arts community, including hotels and restaurants; and keeping their information up-to-date on Michigan.org and VisitAnnArbor.org.