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Visit Cape Update at First Friday Coffee

First Friday Coffee, or should I say Second Friday Coffee, was held July 9 at the Century Casino Event Center. In case you missed it, here's a brief recap...

This month's program featured an update from Visit Cape, Cape Girardeau's Convention & Visitor's Bureau and designated Destination Marketing Organization (DMO). Presented by Senior Director of Sales & Strategy, Alyssa Phares-Fee, First Friday Coffee attendees left with five key takeaways:


Everybody benefits from more visitors.

Destination promotion is an essential investment to develop opportunities and build quality of life to benefit all the residents of a community. Although your business might compete with other businesses here in Cape; the reality is that when more people want to visit Cape Girardeau, everybody benefits.

Ultimately, it is Visit Cape's job to attract more people to Cape Girardeau, inspire them to stay longer and spend more money while here. To do this, they focus on the bigger picture and on things that make Cape Girardeau unique and make people want to visit.


Just because you don't see Visit Cape's marketing, doesn't mean it isn't happening.

Visit Cape advertises in specific, strategically targeted markets based on research completed at the State level by the Missouri Division of Tourism. Our largest out-of-state markets are: Illinois, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Iowa (Tourism Economics Travel Trak America data).

They also have a strong digital presence which includes social media. Their website had over 100,000 users in the last Fiscal Year and 82% of those users, were new to the site. Chicago users made up the majority of website visitors.


Visit Cape is selling the destination experience.

With a few exceptions, Visit Cape sells the entire destination as an experience to our visitors. This works for all markets, including Leisure, Group, Meetings & Conventions and Sports. Once customers have a facility that fits their needs they are looking to see what else we have in the region to offer - that’s the experience.

Think about when you go on a business trip that lasts several days. Typically, there are evening or afternoon events that showcase features of that destination - we do that here in Cape too!


Visit Cape is planning for the future.

While your business may focus on the now; Visit Cape focuses on the long-term view for the ongoing growth of tourism in Cape Girardeau. Every aspect of their organization planning is looking to the future. For Visit Cape, it isn’t about securing the immediate booking (although, that would be nice) it is about cultivating relationships with potential customers and fitting into their future schedules.

For example: Events like the Great Race have been on the books for years and have been in the planning stages for years. Also, for Group Tours or Meetings and Conventions, when Alyssa meets with these clients, they are talking about the next 2-3 years. Sometimes, Visit Cape gets RFPs in their office that are 5 years in advance.


Your Visit Cape team is passionate about Cape.

2020 brought an immense challenge to the normal way of doing business at Visit Cape. How, in a pandemic do you continue to market your community to visitors? Safely. Effectively and without expectations of large groups, that's how.

It was Visit Cape's job to connect with potential visitors via social media and print advertising. They promoted Cape Girardeau as a place to visit when the time was right. That’s not to say we didn’t benefit from neighboring states who had more stringent lock downs than us - we did, but the key is how do we keep them coming back?

FY20 was going to be a record breaking year for Visit Cape. Instead, the pandemic affected hotel motel traffic negatively during three of our busiest months of the year: March, April & May. However, astonishingly enough, we only finished the year just a little over $43,000 different than FY19 - which had also been a record breaking year.

Your Visit Cape team members teamed up with Chamber & City partners to create Keep Cape Strong - a website not just for residents but for visitors to the area as well and kept it updated and going throughout the height of the pandemic.

Virtual Conferences became the normal. They booked new business through online meetings. But, none of this would have been possible if the Visit Cape team were not as passionate about this community as they are.

Every community needs to compete with every other community for their share of the world’s attention, customers, ideas, and investment. This is the community need that a destination organization fills.


How can you help Visit Cape help YOU?

It sounds simple, but simply liking Visit Cape on Facebook or following them on Instagram goes a long way to spread the word about Cape.

If you are an active member of the community and are a part of an organization or business that would benefit from knowing more about what is going on in Cape Girardeau, the Visit Cape page is a great place to keep updated on tourism activities.

Visit Cape is also a great support for your group’s planning of events. Even if it is a simple room block - they can help you make it happen. Consider one of our several conference centers or meeting venues for your next corporate event. Though we all enjoy going elsewhere, think about the benefits to your hometown if you brought your meeting here? A visitors first experience in our destination might start with a meeting but we will ensure it will not be their last.


Be an advocate for Cape Girardeau. Spread the word. Be a part of the community.