After more than a decade of successfully marketing Cincinnati USA as a leisure tourism destination to active family travelers during the peak travel season of May through August, the RTN has expanded its season, message and audience, driving incremental results in just the first year of a new, multi-year cultural tourism collaboration with ArtsWave.

Building upon the momentum of the region’s economic growth and cultural vitality, the RTN approached ArtsWave, the lead planner, promoter and fundraiser for 100+ local arts organizations, with a challenge to grow new public, private and corporate partners and co-create a campaign to increase awareness, engagement and visitation for the region’s vibrant arts and cultural entertainment experiences.

ArtsWave accepted, and in 2016 the two organizations unveiled the region’s first cultural tourism and engagement marketing collaboration.

“When we decided to create this initiative based on research identifying Cincinnati USA’s rich cultural, performing arts and culinary offerings as some of our key strengths to driving people to the region, it only made sense to partner with ArtsWave, the first and largest community arts fundraiser in the nation,” said Linda Antus, president and CEO of the RTN. “Working together has enabled both of our organizations to leverage our unique and differentiated strengths to achieve results beyond what either organization could have alone.”

In just its first year, the collaboration achieved powerful results.

By expanding the tourism season to include the months of September through December, and targeting a new audience reaching as far as 500 miles outside of Cincinnati USA, the RTN saw an increase in hotel occupancy, demand and revenue September through December yielding $14 million in additional revenue over 2015. This growth in travel and tourism revenue directly increases the economic impact and community vitality of our region.

Also of note is increased visitation and engagement by arts and cultural travelers from 100-500 miles outside of the region to both the RTN’s and ArtsWave’s, showing increased awareness by locals and potential leisure travelers from markets including Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and more. Research also showed an increase in overall visitor perception of Cincinnati USA, including their intent to visit, perception of Cincinnati USA as a quality arts and culture destination as well as a desirable place to live and work and positive opinion of the region.

“We believed that we could raise positive public awareness of the region by promoting our arts and cultural assets to a broader geography,” says Alecia Kintner, CEO and president of ArtsWave. “And the results of this first campaign proved it to be true. Moreover, our local results echo national research that shows that cultural tourists spend more and stay longer than other travelers. This project leverages the arts to add economic and reputational value to the region.”

Funders of the first-year effort include the PNC Charitable Trusts, Western & Southern Financial Group, the Louise Taft Semple Foundation, the Thomas J. Emery Memorial, ArtsWave, the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network, thirteen local arts organization including the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati Arts Association, and more than a dozen individuals.

Fundraising continues for the second year of the multi-year collaboration as planning for the 2017 campaign to run September through December begins shortly. Together, the RTN and ArtsWave will build upon success and learnings of the collaboration’s benchmark year to increase awareness, engagement and visitation for our region’s rich cultural offerings.

“When a new collaboration achieves success like this in just the first year, it demonstrates how smart these two organizations were to leverage their differentiated strengths while tracking the economic impact,” said Dudley S. Taft, president and CEO of Taft Broadcasting. “I look forward to continued future investment in our regional vitality and creation of local legacy projects enabled by this unique partnership.”