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Large-scale changes are in store for the North Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau this year, according to the organization's director of marketing.

North Little Rock's marketing organization will unveil the bureau's new brand Jan. 13, said Stephanie Slagle, director of marketing for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the organization will move into a new facility currently under construction downtown near Argenta Plaza.

Slagle said the new brand is part of a larger effort to promote North Little Rock as a tourism destination and to differentiate the city from Little Rock.

"We wanted people to see us as a separate city from Little Rock," she said. "Locals know the difference, but visitors might not know. We are different cities with different possibilities."

The new brand will include a new logo that will be displayed in numerous locations. The logo will be included in the bureau's North Little Rock Destination Guide, the city's new brand video, the Convention and Visitors Bureau's website, a trip-planning app that can be downloaded, in-market and out-of-market print and digital advertising, social media, and at the new North Little Rock Welcome Center at 600 Main St.

Slagle said the bureau decided in 2018 to take a step back and reevaluate how the department was operating.

"We decided to start investing in market research to see how we were doing," she said.

A yearlong destination market research project with Gray Research Solutions of Nashville, Tenn., led the bureau to the idea of creating a fresh approach for the city.

The organization also reached out to the Stamp Idea Group in Montgomery, Ala., to start a six-month rebranding that included interviewing guests at North Little Rock lodging properties, visitors at local attractions, focus groups, surveys and industry trend reports.

"They helped us key into an image that closely resembles what we do," Slagle said.

The bureau's current logo, which was created in 2010, includes the organization's name with three green stars over the N.

"It was a nice design, but it doesn't really mean anything," Slagle said. "This one will be more fun."

Slagle said the new logo will symbolize the fresh synergy surrounding lodging, attraction, entertainment and restaurants in North Little Rock. She said the entire rebranding process cost the marketing department $40,000.

"We see it as a good use of money," Slagle said. "Instead of paying for ads, we decided to make sure we had our audience right."

The new brand is the latest in a series of updates the Convention and Visitors Bureau has made in its efforts to attract more visitors to North Little Rock.

In early 2019, it launched a mobile-friendly site that included a comprehensive events calendar and more engaging content. Six months later, the organization launched a new trip planning app for visitors.

Slagle said this year the bureau will place more emphasis on attracting high school reunions and other reunions to North Little Rock.

"This isn't a new market for us, but one that has kind of been on the back burner for the past few years," Slagle said.

The focus on reunions will allow the city to play to its strengths.

"We don't have a convention center or large spaces like Little Rock to hold those large-scale business meetings," Slagle said. "Our niche is those small groups."

The bureau's offices also will relocate this year to the new North Little Rock Welcome Center. The grand opening for the center is expected to be held sometime in April.

"We've already been working with the interior designers on ways to show off the new look in the CVB offices and welcome center," Karen Trevino, senior vice president chief operating officer, said in a news release. "We will be visible and eye-catching to drivers and pedestrians along Main Street. We will attract foot traffic in the doors, help visitors and fill the need for more retail options downtown."

The center will include local items for sale that will range from apparel to kitchen supplies to souvenirs, Slagle said.

The bureau also will manage the newly opened Argenta Plaza, which is only a block from the bureau's new downtown offices.

The $5.4 million plaza project at 510 N. Main St. has been billed by city officials as a gathering place for downtown residents, workers and visitors. It will feature jetted fountains with LED-lit streams of water, a "front porch" area with modern swings, a 50-foot-long cascading water wall, a 40-foot-tall video screen and a "backyard" area.

The plaza is expected to become the centerpiece of an area that will include the First Orion office building on the back side of the plaza and the Power & Ice indoor food court on the north side.

The three-story, 600 Main Building north of the plaza will house two private companies along with the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Erica Goss, the bureau's sales and events director, will be responsible for scheduling public and private events in the 31,000-square-foot space.

"She is looking to pin down some things that can occur on a regular basis at the plaza -- for example, a music series -- but we don't have anything finalized as of yet," Slagle said.

SundayMonday on 01/05/2020

Print Headline: Visitors bureau in North Little Rock looks to rebrand

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