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Roswell talks tourism, aliens and beyond

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City marketing campaign seeks to attract millennials and adventurers

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City of Roswell’s marketing team hosted 67 community members in a roundtable discussion revolving around tourism on Wednesday evening.

Juanita Jennings, Public Affairs director, said Roswell Tourism Talks will be a monthly event with featured guest speakers. Jennings also said the intention of the event is to create a collaboration of the City and community business leaders, partners, and citizens to promote the assets of Roswell with a unified message.

The next event is May 10 and the guest speaker will be Cody Johnson from New Mexico Hospitality Association and the someone from the New Mexico Tourism Department will speak in June.

Jennings said her goals for the marketing team are to increase gross receipts tax and lodger’s tax by bringing in 14,000 new visitors in the Visitor’s Center and want to 20% higher in reach and frequency than last year. For future growth, Jennings said the City Manager Joe Neeb and Mayor Dennis Kintigh have a phone call set with Vince Kadlubek, CEO of Meow Wolf in Santa Fe.

Goals of tourism

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“Our goal obviously is to bring people to Roswell,” Jennings said. “A lot of times our citizens don’t see all the work and effort that goes into all of the advertising, marketing, and publication that we do. So we are going to show our new campaign that’s currently running in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona.”

Jennings and Mayor Dennis Kintigh asked those in the audience to consider a commitment to what they wanted to see in the City’s tourism.

“But there is something else we need to understand — this is a community poised to grow,” Kintigh said. “And to grow we need to attract and retain young professionals — whether it is physicians at the hospital, engineers a Leprino, petroleum geologists at an oil and gas company. Any of those fields require young people who can literally go anywhere in the world. We want to bring them to Roswell. Let’s admit that we are an island. We don’t have water. We have space. We are an island of $50,000.”

Kintigh said tourism can support amenities to attract young professionals and also said tourism is essential and critical to expand and enhance Roswell.

Attracting adventurers

The guest speaker was Dave Hayduk, from HK Advertising in Santa Fe, and he said passion is an important factor in promoting tourism. Hayduk presented photos and a video of the work he and his team have created for See Roswell’s latest campaign. Jennings said Hayduk’s plan costs the City $128,791 to cover everything from the digital side to the administrative costs. Jennings also said a request for proposals is out to bid for a new contract with an advertising agency, which is required every four years.

Emphasizing the importance of social media and access to tourism events from smartphones, Hayduk showed statistics that current ad campaign is reaching the demographic of ages 21-55. Hayduk said millennials and younger travelers like being active and experiencing, which Roswell offers.

“My job is with the advertising firm is to market Roswell to travelers to encourage them to come to Roswell and visit and to experience the great assets that we have in Roswell,” Hayduk said. “It’s about getting them to stay with us and experience us and so what we create is the advertising that is truly about Roswell. It’s about site doing. It’s about giving them the why not the what–the emotional connection to go ‘Yeah, I want to go to Roswell. I want to see that. I want to do that.'”

Hayduk said the UFO brand is international and well-loved, but he added that locals should know the City’s brand does not rest solely on aliens. He added the second part of marketing Roswell is to realize the brand is enhanced by other assets that should be showcased to retain travelers. Kintigh said the festival brought it over 22,000 visitors last year.

Alison Penn Photo
Candy Ezzell speaks on behalf of her table at the Tourism Talk on Wednesday evening. Izzel said there is more to Roswell than aliens and wore her group’s ideas like a billboard.

Hayduk said people travel to fairs, festivals, and events and that Roswell’s three greatest assets are the UFO Festival along with outdoor adventures like Bottomless Lakes and Spring River Park and Zoo. Hayduk said locals should know the brand does not rest on aliens, but rather is enhanced by other assets that they should also experience.

“Part of our push is to let locals know about the additional things,” he said. “So get out and experience Roswell. If you live here in Roswell — lived (here) all your life — look around and see the things that maybe you’ve taken for granted.”

Out of this world creativity

After referencing his background in aerospace, the FBI, and now the mayor of Roswell, Kintigh shared his idea of creating a figurative scale model of the solar system with Roswell landmarks beginning with Penn Plaza as the sun and Pluto being in Carlsbad. If Roswell decided to carry out this plan, Kintigh said it would be the second largest in the world and the largest model in North America. He used his idea to challenge the audience to think creatively and beyond.

Jennings and Allison Gray, the City’s tourism and event manager, led the crowd in a group exercise where each group wrote three ideas to enliven Roswell’s tourism. After the activity, the groups presented their ideas. Some of the topics touched on were about promoting Roswell Invaders, alien paintball, crop circle maze, street art tours, wild west culture, creating food tours, personalizing the downtown, transportation like Uber and Lyft, increasing nightlife after 8 p.m., black light galactic put-put golf, more downtown businesses and activities, downtown park with activities, retaining tourists, increasing music scene, shopping, an interactive smartphone game plotted around the city, experiential tours, downtown informational kiosks, and increasing wayfinding.

Jennings said citizens can share what they love about Roswell at SeeRoswell.com and the Facebook page Roswell Tourism-New Mexico will the most information on Roswell Tourism Talks.

“We are looking for alike minds that love what you love here in this room,” Hayduk said. “We find those people and they will love to come to Roswell and experience our culture and our adventure.”

City reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.