Global firm will identify strategic priorities and provide roadmap for tourism development
DES MOINES, Iowa (May 6, 2019) – Catch Des Moines, the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau, has engaged with global professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and their Tourism and Destinations Team to build a roadmap to increase the number of overnight visitors who come to enjoy the region. Known as the “Destination Master Plan,” the eight-month initiative will drive stakeholder consensus to craft both short-term executables and long-term destination goals for Greater Des Moines, as well as assess the region’s tourism infrastructure and destination development potential.
“Tourism is comprised of multiple independent industries. Catch Des Moines represents fifteen different municipalities, so we want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard so we can craft a singular vision to move our region forward,” said Greg Edwards, President & CEO at Catch Des Moines. “The Des Moines metro is the fastest growing city in the Midwest; this plan is necessary in order for us to evolve our business model and refine our strategies to best represent the region and bring in more visitors.”
The project kicked off in January, when the JLL team met with Catch Des Moines municipalities and held focus groups with leaders in the business and hospitality sectors. Following those discussions, one of the first inputs to the roadmap were results of a survey that queried businesses, developers, planners, city officials and other stakeholders across the region. The survey gathered information on regional tourism drivers, our destination’s strengths and weaknesses and areas of opportunity.
A sampling of the results included:
- Survey respondents believe that special events and festivals, concerts and the Iowa State Fair are the top three attractors for visitors to Greater Des Moines.
- Respondents believe that leisure travelers are attracted to the area given its affordability, friendliness and safety.
- Of the “product improvement” needs for the region, respondents believe that additional airlift would increase the area’s competitiveness, specifically for conventions and meetings and sports tourism business.
“This process will allow us to differentiate attractors versus attractions and leverage our existing strengths, while identifying other areas that could become strengths given the proper attention.” Edwards said. With nearly 400 respondents weighing in, the survey provides a strong foundation to guide the deliberations to create the Destination Master Plan.
At the forefront of destination management
The awareness of how partners and stakeholders perceive Greater Des Moines as a destination is a crucial element to the Destination Master Plan’s success.
“Our goal is to serve as a mentor to Catch Des Moines as it builds the region’s future as a place where more people want to visit,” said Dan Fenton, Project Executive and Director of Global Tourism and Destination Development Services at JLL. “They had 13.7 million visitors in 2016 and have garnered a number of kudos as a first-class event host, so the groundwork is in place. It’s our job to help understand the community’s goals and vision and reflect those stakeholders’ perspectives so that we can create a unified, successful plan moving forward.”
Some of those stakeholders were included in the formation of a Steering Committee, consisting of community leaders who convene to serve as a sounding board for the themes JLL is uncovering. The Steering Committee will ensure that the resulting strategies and recommendations are practical and will resonate with the broader goals for the region.
“Our municipalities recognize that tourism is an integral part of their growth,” Edwards said. “If you aren’t a great place to visit, chances are you aren’t a place where today’s talent wants to live and work. We think that this plan will help us align all of our priorities and demonstrate that being a great place to live and great place to visit don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”
The process to build the Destination Master Plan is set to conclude in August 2019. For more information on the process, visit catchdesmoines.com/destinationmasterplan.
About Catch Des Moines
The Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Des Moines Area Sports Commission, collectively known as Catch Des Moines, is the official destination marketing organization promoting and representing Greater Des Moines to leisure travelers and meeting/sports planners. Our focus is to increase visitors to the metro and elevate the visitor experience to drive economic success and enhance the quality of life in the 15 local Greater Des Moines communities we represent. For more information, visit catchdesmoines.com.
JLL Tourism and Destination is a dedicated practice within JLL Hotels & Hospitality, a 350-person global hospitality services team in more than 20 countries. The Tourism and Destination team holds more than 20 years of experience in helping communities identify what sets them apart and crafting strategies to maximize destinations’ potential. The team has worked with more than 100 plus planning efforts across destinations, cities, regions, states and countries —partnering to attract visitors and make their destinations more competitive.