With cityscapes, river views, delicious eateries and award-winning attractions, one of Cincinnati’s fiercest economic drivers is the travel and tourism industry. In 2005, the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitor Bureaus joined together to create an innovative and collaborative tourism business model that is like no other. Thus the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network was born, beginning a partnership between the CVBs to promote business and leisure travel to the region. Celebrating a decade of partnership this year, the region has seen growth and development in more ways than one.
“The Regional Tourism Network is just that,” says Linda Antus, CEO and president. “It’s a regionally focused destination marketing company that promotes visitors to come here to enjoy a leisure getaway, a vacation and to enjoy experiences that are all about having a good time. It’s one part of a very important travel and tourism equation that creates tremendous economic impact.”
The RTN is the only tourism organization of its kind funded across state lines with the The network represents 15 counties in the three states of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. While the CVBs focus on business-related tourism, the RTN uses a visitor-centric and research-based approach to gain visitors’ insights and understandings. As a result of marketing the quality, quantity and variety of memorable experiences throughout the region, Cincinnati’s economic vitality and quality of life grows. The objective each year is to grow outer-market awareness, impacting travel and tourism rates and economic growth. Working with cincinnatiusa.com, the largest travel portal in the region, is an opportunity that creates tremendous visitation, according to Antus.
“People are very aware and very much traveling and enjoying our culinary experiences, arts and cultural experiences and wonderful family attractions. I like to call them family gems,” says Antus, adding that the region is also known for professional sports and festivals. However, RTN and the CVBs thrive better together.
“I can’t say enough how important the partnership aspect is,” explains Antus. “By definition, we were formed as a model of collaboration and that’s so important because our region, especially our visitors, wouldn’t look at our river separating anything. They would look at this wonderful opportunity to cross the bridge and do things on both sides of the river.” Antus adds that one without the other would not create the kind of success that the Tristate needs to sustain a strong economy.
Additionally, the network focuses on the fact that a business traveler is a human being, too. Collaborative programs are designed to acknowledge that there is a relationship between a business and leisure traveler. Through the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program, the CVBs work together to attract group tour travels, journalist programs and more.
The CVBs and the RTN have accomplished much in the past 10 years, beginning with the courage and the spirit of creating this unique model, according to Antus. New initiatives for the next decade are being put in place, such as marketing and positioning the region as a great getaway destination beyond the popular peak season of May through September. RTN will also focus on more personalized communication in marketing to better connect with visitors individually.