We’ve often heard it said, “You’ve gotta have a plan.” In the meetings and hospitality trade, make that a strong marketing plan. Take Las Vegas. Twenty years ago, it launched a sensational marketing plan called, “What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” It was so successful, we’re still talking about it. It was a humorous spin on various rules of the road, but one with such a dynamic force that it quickly became a part of mainstream America. The Vegas campaign was in print and on TV. It even showed up on SNL as a hilarious Saturday night skit. Public figures used it to express a point of view – people like Billy Crystal used the slogan at the 76th Academy Awards ceremony in 2004, and Laura Bush used it in an interview with Jay Leno in 2005, among others. In short, it was a marketing success story that enjoyed a lot more attention than 15 minutes of fame within the travel industry and beyond. It magnificently accomplished what it set out to do – transform the destination’s gritty wild west image to what it is today, “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” and made it part of public consciousness in the process. And it did so in such a witty and light-hearted way that its slogan became part of pop culture and continues to this day.
While LVCVA’s brainchild is a hard act to follow, it impacted the industry and drove home the point, again, that “you’ve gotta have a plan.” Nothing could be truer for CVBs. Take Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Well, like Vegas, Philadelphia recently launched an ambitious three-year plan to define its multi-faceted lifestyle as well, as all that the city has to offer all types of visitors, from tourists to meeting-goers and convention attendees to concert-goers. After all, most people have different takes on the City of Brotherly Love. For instance, while some folks think Liberty Bell, others think “Rocky.” What about all that’s in between?
To that end, two tourism organizations, Visit Philadelphia ® and the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) announced the launching of their first-ever, joint destination marketing campaign, “Come for Philadelphia. Stay for Philly.” I translate that to mean, “Come for History. Stay for Fun.” According to the official announcement, “…this light-hearted campaign puts the city’s confidence and attitude at the forefront as it aims to drive visitation to the region across all travel segments — leisure, business, and group — not only in 2023 but leading up to 2026, when the city will host major activities around America250, the FIFA World Cup and the MLB All-Star Game.”
Understandably, Joe Heller, senior vice president of marketing and communications, at PHLCVB, confidently reports, “Emerging from the pandemic, we recognize that travel has changed and the best way to reach our goals is to rally around one message for Philadelphia. Plus, as we prepare to welcome the world in 2026, we know the strength that comes with offering a cohesive, in-sync invitation to all potential visitors to our great region, and we have landed on one that we are confident will be appealing to leisure, group, local, national, and international markets.”
According to current research, 79% of leisure visitors come back to visit Philadelphia again — that’s 27% more than the U.S. average. Most importantly, more than 70% of convention business returns too. That research lays the foundation for a campaign that highlights Philly’s lesser-known attributes in a major way. The creative force behind this new marketing campaign is a Philadelphia- and Boston-based agency, Allen & Gerritsen (A&G). According to the group, “Come for Philadelphia. Stay for Philly” pairs lines that are funny, clever, confident, and sassy with bold, vibrant, compelling photography that shows off the spirit of the place and its people.
“This campaign is a call to action for visitors to come for the Philadelphia they expect and to stay for the unexpected gems just waiting to be discovered. Philadelphia represents our credentials, and Philly shows off our under-the-radar side,” said Visit Philadelphia’s Chief Marketing Officer Neil Frauenglass. “Our aim is clear: We want to make Philadelphia an unskippable destination for all travelers, and with our new campaign, we think we can do just that.”
The campaign recently kicked off in Philadelphia in February (2023). But, more than anything else, “Come for Philadelphia. Stay for Philly.” will serve as the core message for marketing efforts aimed at recruiting new meetings, conventions, and events to Philadelphia, and help build initiatives for events coming in 2023. New taglines like “Come for the Convention. Stay for the Unconventional,” “Come for History, Stay for Adventure,” or “Come for Rocky. Stay for Rodin,” and other messaging will be featured in trade and business publications, on digital media platforms, in destination collateral, and at trade shows across the globe.
The product behind the campaign includes the Pennsylvania Convention Center, which consists of more than two million square feet of space, including seven exhibit halls that total 679,000 square feet of exhibit space – 528,000 square feet of which is contiguous exhibit space. In addition, the Center contains more than 82 meeting rooms and has one of the largest ballrooms in the Northeast, equivalent to the size of a football field. The center’s mega-size provides the ability to host multiple large trade shows and conventions simultaneously and comfortably.
Under the management of the world-class facility operator ASM Global, the Pennsylvania Convention Center hosts nearly 250 events a year, ranging from internationally attended conventions to regional company retreats – its appeal strengthened by more than 14,000 hotel rooms that feed into it, including the connecting Marriott which is the largest hotel in the city.
Throughout the city, Philadelphia has cultural and structural developments that are either in progress or recently completed. It has also welcomed several new hotels over the past couple of years, including Hyatt Centric, Canopy by Hilton, and Guild House Hotel – which was named one of The Best New Hotels in the World by consumer magazine Travel + Leisure for 2022.
Several existing properties also received high honors too. They include: The Four Seasons (and its spa program) received Forbes’ prestigious Five-Star ranking, as well as a AAA Five Diamond Hotel Designation. Meanwhile, The Rittenhouse was named the top hotel in the mid-Atlantic by the consumer magazine Condé Nast Traveler.
Other hotels have experienced renovations to deliver guests an updated experience, including the Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown, Windsor Suites Philadelphia, Courtyard Philadelphia South at Navy Yard, and Philadelphia Marriott Downtown.
New hotel options include the Live! Casino & Hotel in the South Philadelphia Stadium District. In Center City, the new Element Philadelphia and luxurious W Philadelphia share a building and 45,000 square feet of meeting and event space along Chestnut Street, just steps from popular downtown attractions.
More than this, there are new or renovated venues for offsite events, world-class cultural offerings like Van Gogh, the Immersive Experience, which was one of the city’s biggest exhibitions to hit town, plenty of outstanding indoor/outdoor recreational activities, and fabulous restaurants and eateries.
“Come to Philadelphia. Stay for Philly.” The only question left is, “Will this new marketing campaign be as successful as the Vegas slogan was in 2003?” As a travel professional for many decades, I’d bet a yes on that. –Stella Johnson
- 10 Reasons to Meet in Philadelphia
1. Health and Safety Is A Number One Priority
2. A One-Million-Square-Foot Venue in the Middle of Downtown
3. Location, Location, Location
4. Walking Is the Best Way To Explore
5. A Wide Range of Hotels & Venues
6. Endless Outdoor Dining Options
7. History Awaits Around Every Corner
8. Parks & Outdoor Spaces
9. Outdoor Art and Recreation
10. A CVB that Makes Connections Happen