“Non-Traditional Methods to Promote a Small Destination”: Nick Povalitis – Show Notes

  • Name: Adam Stoker
  • Position: Co-founder and CEO of Relic Agency
  • Favorite Destination: Fiji
  • Dream Destination: New Zealand
  • Name: Nick Povalitis
  • Position: Vice President of Marketing & Sports Development at Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Favorite Destination: New York City, New York
  • Dream Destination: New York City, New York — any place that you can feel the vibrancy of the destination, get lost and wander.

“Non-Traditional Methods to Promote a Small Destination” – Show Notes and Highlights

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Background

  • Nick loves destinations where you can wander and get lost while experiencing the vibrancy and the appeal of the area. He doesn’t like traveling with an itinerary, he loves the exploration of a vacation.
  • Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, he left the area to get a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communications. He volunteered writing for the newspaper when he was attending the University of Illinois in Campagne, Illinois. Then, he worked in the athletic department with athletes on the public relations side.
  • After college, he got an internship at Northwestern in media relations. 
  • His internship led him to a full-time position as an Assistant Sports Information Director at Washington University in St. Louis. 
  • He moved back to Rockford with his family when his wife got a job in the area. Now, he works for the Rockford Area CVB. He has moved around a lot in the CVB with different roles but is now the  Vice President of Marketing & Sports Development at Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Making Bad News, Good News

  • When Forbes released an article about “America’s Most Miserable Cities” that listed Rockford, Illinois as number 14, they decided to turn this bad news into good news.
  • The CVB worked with their local agency to create a new campaign called “Misery Loves Company.” This campaign turned things around and gave them more press. They even printed T-shirts.
  • The next campaign they created was “In Good Company,” which was a local-oriented campaign, sharing attractions, restaurants and entrepreneurs in Rockford.

A Destination Spokesperson and Sports Tourism

  • They have been in sports tourism since 1984 when the CVB was founded.
  • As they started their “In Good Company” campaign, they started to intentionally diversify their sports event portfolio. This gave them opportunities to tell a specific sports story.
  • In 2016, they reached out to Fred VanVleet, now NBA champion and point guard for the Toronto Raptors, who was just about to graduate college at Wichita State. Being from Rockford, they asked him to participate in a photo shoot connecting athletes to business people and the destination. Today, VanVleet is still a strong supporter of Rockford.
  • Through ads with these athletes, they wanted residents to see them and be inspired to do bigger and better things outside of Rockford.
  • With the success they have had with VanVleet, they are searching for other sport-oriented figures that have left Rockford who they can also build relationships and community with.
  • Tips to approach working with a spokesperson include being selfless and respecting their time, knowing that ROI and the results are in the long-term relationship. Realize that the spokesperson and their agents have limited time and you have to have faith and trust in the relationship.

Watch Parties

  • Watching Fred and his games with the Toronto Raptors, when they made it to game four, five and the finals, they hosted watch parties. They called it Jurassic Park Rockford (RKFD).
  • The parties were announced on social media. Each had a jumbo screen for viewing, food trucks, vendors to sell product and more. Each watch party received local, national and even some international coverage from Canada. Attendees for these parties ranged from 2,500 at the first to 4,000 at the next. Fans traveled from other towns to attend.

Mindset

  • They were successful in their sports tourism efforts with VanVleet because they were supporting him before his NBA fame. They invest themselves in the community and find ways that they can build their destination’s brand story to create pride in the community. The press, the coverage and brand awareness that comes from that is great, but they have to put their mindset into the people first. They want to create memories for people.
  • Therefore, they spend the majority of their money locally. For events and community building activities that will also drive tourism from outside the area. Rockford strives to support local because the more they invest and improve the local scene, the better it will look for tourism in general. 

Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

Go Rockford Website

Forbes Article: “America’s Most Miserable Cities”

Destination Marketers LinkedIn Group

Destination Marketers Facebook Group