Community meeting kicks off visitor study in Baldwin City
David Reynolds chose not to use the word tourism as he began a meeting Wednesday at the Lumberyard Arts Center.
Instead Reynolds, a consultant with DKReynolds and Associates, used the term visitor in asking those who attended the meeting what Baldwin can offer to visitors of the city, believing the word tourist sounded more like someone on a cruise ship and not someone he hopes to bring to Baldwin City.
Reynolds’ job this summer is to determine what Baldwin City has to offer visitors, and to come up with marketing strategy ideas to grow tourism in Baldwin City. His firm was hired by the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau,
“The bottom line in this whole thing is trying to get people to spend the night, or spend more than one day,” Reynolds said. “Because the more time they spend, the more money they spend. That’s what it’s all about. It’s economic development.”
The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting was to get ideas and perspectives of community members on questions such as, where would you take friends or family in town, what is Baldwin City lacking and what would you emphasize to be promoted? Many of the responses focused on the history of the city and surrounding area and downtown Baldwin City.
“I firmly believe that every place has potential,” Reynolds said. “It’s a big part of my studies of the tourism industry, and tourism in general, that every place has a story. It’s just trying to decide how do you make that story interesting enough for someone to come and explore.”
Susan Baker, office manager for the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce, was one of the nine community members in attendance Wednesday, and she believes tourism is an important area to study.
“It’s essential. We want to help our businesses grow and thrive,” Baker said. “We want to fill all our storefronts, maybe add some more jobs, and it’s all positive.”
Reynolds is in the research stage of the study and relies on help from the community to better understand what the city has to offer.
“It’s very important, in everything I’ve ever done, to have the community be supportive, and to be supportive they have to be aware of what you’re doing,” Reynolds said. “The old government thing of transparency, you know, well with this it has to be because I never know when somebody is going to say something that I’ve never heard before.”
Reynolds said the research process was the most important part of the study and would take him a month to complete. Reynolds said he would have a rough draft of the 50- to 60-page document completed by Aug. 1 and a final draft by the middle of August.
Reynolds said the majority of visitors to Baldwin City come because of events, either through Baker University or the community. He added this was not necessarily bad, because it means people are familiar with the community, but he wants to build on the events to offer more options for visitors.
“I think one of my primary goals is to figure out what else is here that people may not know about, but if they come in for Baker Alumni Weekend or they come in for Maple Leaf Festival, that we might be able to convince them to do this,” Reynolds said. “I don’t know what that is at this point, but I’m encouraged by a lot of the things I heard.”
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