Visit Mobile Annual Meeting 2016
by Tim Borland
Anyone near Joachim Street on October 6 may have noticed a large crowd of people clustered adjacent to the bright lights and golden colors of the Mobile Saenger Theater Entrance. The street itself had temporarily become a dance floor for enthusiastic guests while the end of the blocked street echoed with the sounds of Azalea City‘s own Crowned Jewelz Band.
The cause for the celebration was the Annual Meeting for Visit Mobile, an organization focused on attracting leisure and convention tourists to the city. Visit Mobile is a separate entity from the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, although the groups collaborate occasionally. The meeting brought together board members and guests at one of downtown Mobile’s most iconic music venues, along with servers stationed outdoors to bring complimentary refreshments to guests situated at round tables covered in white cloth.
The musicians were approached to perform at Visit Mobile through Stacy Hamilton, Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Visit Mobile. She and former President Al Hutchinson of the Visit Mobile Board of Directors first experienced a Crowned Jewelz Band performance at South Sounds Music Festival.
“The Visit Mobile performance was phenomenal, we truly enjoyed ourselves. The energy we received from the audience was amazing,” Jonesy Jones expressed.
Jonesy Jones on a Hoverboard
The eclectic band contains not just electric guitar, bass, and a drum kit but also saxophone, keyboards, trombone, hand drums, and more. During their performance, which could be heard many streets over, Crowned Jewelz ripped through note-perfect covers, such as “Locked out of heaven” by Bruno Mars. In addition, the audience was treated to the Jewelz latest original single “JazzLipz.” L.I.P. is an acronym for Live In Peace, which is also present on the band’s merchandise.
“We would love to perform on that same block one Thursday of every month because the scenery and atmosphere was perfect . We loved every minute of it , and it is always a pleasure to perform in the city I call home,” Jonesy Jones emphasized.
Crowned Jewelz perform “JazzLipz,” video by Tim Borland
The City of Six Flags has many assets which can draw potential tourists to the area such as Mobile culture, art, music, architecture, landscape, coastal setting, cuisine, history, and of course the unique and warm people of the city. In order for our city to remain a unique destination, local Mobilians must help preserve our city’s distinct independent businesses by shopping, eating, and attending events at these locations, not to mention bringing out of town guests there.
Q&A: Stacy Hamilton – VP Marketing & Communications for Visit Mobile
1)Visit Mobile encourages tourism to Mobile – Why do you think many do not think of Mobile as a destination city?
“Mobile has long been a drive through city, with folks trying to get to the Gulf beaches or to New Orleans, two of the top destinations in the United States. Our goal is to encourage people to get off the interstate and explore historic Mobile. We find once they visit us, they love us and tend to come back,” Hamilton stated.
2) What steps is Visit Mobile taking in order to change that perception?
“Depending on our funding level year over year, we run strategic digital and print advertising in key markets like Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Baton Rouge as well as manage a very robust social media program with one of the largest audiences in our area to reach travelers during the travel planning process. We also work with dozens of travel writers and bloggers to generate articles and posts about the reasons Mobile is a great place to visit. We have a sales team of five managers who travel the country pitching Mobile for possible conventions and meetings,” Hamilton explained.
3) What is the Annual Meeting, and how does it help people in Mobile network with each other to achieve common goals?
“It is our chance to show our members, stakeholders, elected officials, and other community members the accomplishments we achieved in the previous year and what we have planned for the following year and beyond. We want people to understand the role we play in attracting both leisure and convention travelers to town and the value we add to Mobile’s overall tax collection, job generation, and economic vitality. We work on behalf of our hospitality industry – hotels, restaurants, shops, attractions, and special events,” Hamilton elucidated.
4) Are independent local businesses part of what brings downtown Mobile its charm?
“Absolutely! In fact, we use ‘locally owned/operated’ frequently when pitching Mobile to convention planners, writers, and general tourists. People do not want to see chain stores and restaurants that they can find anywhere in any town. Independent businesses are a huge appeal for folks looking for an authentic travel experience and Mobile, especially downtown, definitely fits that bill!” Hamilton insisted.
5) Do you feel there are numerous great entertainment and cultural opportunities in Mobile that even local citizens are unaware of?
“We have more museums and cultural institutions than many southern cities – get out and visit these places! I challenge anyone to find any day of the week when there is not some sort of event going on, so attend. It is easy to drive home after work and get comfortable on the couch or stay home and do things around the house on weekends, but there is truly so much going on in Mobile – large and small, free and ticketed – that surely people can find something appealing. Use our website as a daily/weekly resource; almost every attraction, restaurant, and event is listed. It is a great tool. Follow our Visit Mobile Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. Info is posted daily on these sites that might spark an idea for something fun to do,” Hamilton advised.
6) How can the local community get involved in order to help encourage tourism to Mobile?
“Word of mouth will continue to be one of the number one ways people make decisions about where to travel; being proud of Mobile, being positive, and showing a genuine passion for our city invites others to take a look at what we have to offer. Become an ambassador – tell your clients, colleagues, friends, family, and even strangers across the country what makes Mobile so special,” Hamilton urged.