Scottsdale tourism bureau launches rebranding of community allure

A view of Old Town Scottsdale many say is the fuel of the tourism fire now blazing within Scottsdale city limits. (Photo credit: Scottsdale Convention & Visitor's Bureau)

A view of Old Town Scottsdale many say is the fuel of the tourism fire now blazing within Scottsdale city limits. (Photo credit: Scottsdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau)

Scottsdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau officials say the organization is in the midst of a rebranding effort they hope will help spur economic growth by luring new visitors to Scottsdale hotels and resorts.

Scottsdale tourism officials contend the new destination “brand” will clearly outline what Scottsdale has to offer the affluent visitor and how the community is a unique draw compared to other destination cities.

The campaign, which is a joint effort between the bureau and Utah-based STRUCK A Creative Agency, will generate a new logo for the Scottsdale visitor’s bureau, officials say.

The visitor’s bureau receives funding from the city of Scottsdale’s annual allocation of bed tax revenues donning city council approval. This fiscal year the CVB was provided $8.46 million in funding, according to Kelly Corsette, a spokesman for the city.

“All of the revenue received from the city is from bed tax,” he said in a Sept. 23 written response to e-mailed questions. “$8.46 million is budgeted for the current fiscal year — that amount is based on 50 percent of the forecast bed tax revenues.”

The bureau is also receiving an additional $626,524 based on actual revenues from last fiscal year, known within account spreadsheets as a “True Up” process.

Whereas no one would go on record to reveal the total cost of the rebranding effort, an Aug. 14 letter from Rachel Pearson, the bureau’s vice president of community and government affairs, states the bureau plans to use $319,524.31 toward the rebranding effort.

STRUCK, a Salt Lake City-based creative agency, was chosen by a selection committee to conduct extensive research and work alongside the bureau to establish a brand that best conveys Scottsdale’s personality and attributes, bureau officials say.

“After a thorough vetting process, the CVB, with the help of a selection committee, chose STRUCK, a creative and research agency, to lead Scottsdale’s brand positioning initiative,” said Megan Doyle, the bureau’s community affairs manager.

“STRUCK has been conducting extensive research and working alongside the bureau to establish a brand that best conveys Scottsdale’s personality and attributes. The next steps include creating a new Scottsdale brand platform and marketing campaign to promote Scottsdale as a tourism destination.”

Bureau officials say key takeaways from the research and analysis phase include:

  • Scottsdale’s ideal visitor desires getting away from the stress of everyday life.
  • Scottsdale’s culture and history are a definite plus, but are not a primary draw for travelers to visit.
  • Scottsdale is a place of stirring beauty, natural and otherwise. There is more opportunity to tap into the destination’s unique and natural beauty.
  • The desert is a point of differentiation for Scottsdale: Messaging and images using the desert can motivate interest when visitors see the desert as positive, inspiring and beautiful.
  • The current perception of Scottsdale is a relaxed, outdoor destination.
    Scottsdale tourism officials say they expect to unveil a final project in fall 2016.

Luring the new traveler

Rachel Sacco, the bureau’s president and CEO, says the time is right to consider rebranding for the tourism juggernaut as demographics shift and the allusive millennial traveler is who the bureau is targeting.

Rachel Sacco

Rachel Sacco

“It has been about 10 years since we have had an extensive look at the perceptions of Scottsdale,” she said in a Sept. 22 phone interview. “We are very research-heavy and we feel comfortable that we have the right messages in the various markets we serve. But we need to put head in the beds.”

Ms. Sacco contends the rebranding effort will not reinvent the Scottsdale wagon wheel.

“We feel good about the positive brand about the community that’s already out there,” she pointed out. “But the travel market has changed and the traveler has changed. So it’s a good idea for us to look ahead and see if there is something that we need to take advantage of. We want to make sure we are talking to the visitor of tomorrow.”

Overall Scottsdale hotel occupancy is up 3 percent year to date. Ms. Sacco says more positive growth is attainable.

“The numbers are really good,” she said of common tourism monikers oftentimes revolving around different computations illustrating the value of occupancy rates.

“We know for that for the first six months of the year our occupancy is up and our average daily rate is up. We are seeing a comeback; travel is recovering, we are a destination but a place that has recovered slowly compared to other destination markets. There is room for growth.”

Capitalizing on that room for growth is what the rebranding effort hopes to achieve, says Jeremy Chase, STRUCK director of client services.

“Scottsdale is a destination and a brand that really is looking for a way to transform itself. For us, that is really exciting,” he said in a Sept. 22 phone interview. “We have a familiarity with Scottsdale — there is not a lot wrong with Scottsdale.”

From his perspective, Mr. Chase says the Scottsdale bureau is looking for substantial comprehensive traveler research — something his firm specializes in.

“If we are going to help build a brand, we need to make sure we are informed by the tings that the next generation of traveler wants,” he pointed out. “We don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I think a lot of the discussion is making sure we have our finger on the pulse of today’s traveler.”

According to Mr. Chase, the majority of research has been completed and includes online surveys and focus groups touching a total of 2,000 people aged 18 to 34, with a majority of those respondents having a household income of $75,000 or better.

“We did a lot of research for the first four of five months of this year. We shared this data and now we have transitioned into brand positioning,” he said. “We devise a brand model of the most important attributes of the market and we determine the essence of the brand.”

Untapped potential

Scottsdale Councilwoman Suzanne Klapp agrees with the notion there is untapped tourism potential within Scottsdale.

Suzanne Klapp

Suzanne Klapp

“This is a good time to take a look at how the CVB communicates about Scottsdale,” she said in a Sept. 22 phone interview. “It is a very well-known city but there are certain parts of the city that are not apparent compared to others — one is that people don’t think we have an active culinary scene and that’s not true.”

Councilwoman Klapp hopes the rebranding effort will cast a wider net for potential visitors to the city of Scottsdale.

“We want to make sure that any typical visitor here knows all that we have to offer,” she explained. “We are known for our shopping, but I don’t think we are known for our restaurants. It may become a new way we are portraying ourselves to potential tourists.”

Councilwoman Klapp says the rebranding effort is a “very ambitious effort and will reap rewards for Scottsdale.”

Ms. Sacco agrees.

“As we go through the exercise our brand hasn’t changed too much, but it is more about how we speak to new customers,” she said.

“Are there things that Scottsdale is emphasizing that are getting lost? This is all about messaging and it’s all about perceptions. We won’t say that we are successful until every hotel room is filled.”

It appears the sun may be setting on established tourism messaging as a new visitor demographic emerges from the millennial heap. (Photo credit: Scottsdale Convention & Visitor's Bureau)

It appears the sun may be setting on established tourism messaging as a new visitor demographic emerges from the millennial heap. (Photo credit: Scottsdale Convention & Visitor’s Bureau)

Independent Newsmedia Arizona Managing Editor Terrance Thornton can be contacted at

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