Why NYC Needed a Rebrand

Why NYC Needed a Rebrand

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New York City is making a strong comeback in attracting business and leisure travelers since Covid-19. On March 28, the organization known for 25 years as NYC & Company, responsible for marketing the many NYC attractions inside and outside of the United States, announced its rebrand. It is now called New York City Tourism + Conventions. The launch of the new website is planned for May.

Nancy Mammana, who joined the organization in 2018 and became CMO in 2019, sat down with StreetFight to discuss the whys and wherefores of the name change and what attracts visitors from all over the world to the City of New York.

What informed the need to rebrand it to New York City Tourism + Conventions?

At this unique moment in time when we’re in the recovery of our global travel and tourism industry overall, and particularly the recovery of the city, we thought it was the right moment to really reflect on our brand and reassess our mission and purpose. There was a lack of clarity on what NYC & Company means to the general public and our constituents at large. It was not as clear that we are, In fact, the official New York City Conventions and visitors bureau. We are the only official tourism authority for the five boroughs.

From where do most tourists to New York City originate?

International visitors are typically 20% of our visitation overall but represent 50% of the spend. Top markets tend to be the U.K., Canada, France, Brazil, Australia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Mexico. China is a market that pre-pandemic would have been in the top 10. We are still monitoring the return of the Chinese visitor but are seeing Asian visitors from around the world. So, I would say, Korea, Japan, Singapore, we do have [marketing] ongoing efforts in those markets. Overall, we had a little over 47 million domestic visitors coming into the city this past year, with 9.4 million international visitors. The total last year was 56 million visitors.

How does that compare to other years?

The 56 million who visited in 2022 was a 72.5 percent increase over 2021, obviously, due to the pandemic. So, we saw a big increase in the recovery—the city’s record for visitors66 million in 2019. We’re tracking to welcome about 63.3 million this year.

How do you allocate your marketing budget?

Prior to the pandemic, our budgets typically are fairly lean, so we relied primarily into digital– paid search and social, and OOH media. As for allocation, we have an agreement with JCDecaux through our city contracts. Because of that we have an inventory that we use for tourism campaigns around the world. And then also within the five boroughs. So typically, we would lean into OOH and digital during the pandemic. Thanks to some additional funding from the city and the mayor’s blueprint initiatives, as well as American Rescue Plan funding that we received, we were able to execute a television campaign for the first time in 2021-22.

That was really to jumpstart the recovery and let people know that the city was open, and that was the birth of our “It’s time for New York City” campaign platform, which involved three different cycles of TV. Now, we’re back to digital and OOH, and we have very robust owned channels. Our email databases are also robust.

Which NYC attractions do you generally highlight?

We’re supporting all of the tourism and hospitality businesses in the city, among which we have 2,000 members across every sector of tourism and hospitality. We can’t feature everyone in our OOH visuals, so we lean into Lady Liberty as an icon of welcome, and we drive people to our website where virtually all the attractions are covered. We rotate to highlight different attractions equally in our ongoing pushes and campaigns throughout the year. At particular times the year, we highlight restaurants or hotels. Restaurant Week, Broadway Week, and Off-Broadway week.

Our ongoing media push is also interest-based, and we target consumers who have shown interest in shopping. Shopping is one of the top activities in New York in general. We happen to know that, for example, Brazilian visitors particularly love shopping. We’ll do ongoing campaigns that target those visitors and showcase various small shops throughout the five boroughs all the way through the big-box stores. Our website includes shopping, guides, gift guides throughout the year. We always like to showcase local businesses and owners in our content. We’ve got a lot of additional content within our Black experience section. There’s also an NYC Latino experience and an Asian experience. We add paid media to support and promote that content as well. We started to use QR codes on our ads to see how people were engaging. It’s proven to be very popular.

From where do domestic travelers to the city originate?

They tend to be California, Florida, Texas, Chicago, Pennsylvania, and the Northeast corridor. You may not fly into New York. Just for Restaurant week, but we have a good audience base for that in the Tri-State area.

Are you allowed to use the new? “We love New York” slogan?

That’s completely different from us. It’s not our campaign and is meant to target locals. It originated from the Partnership for New York City with different objectives, different calls to action and is completely separate from what we’re doing. We’ve been using “It’s time for New York City” since 2021, when the city was just starting to reopen. The campaign was working so well that we just continued it. And we’ve gotten through three phases of that work with campaigns all around the world. We’ll be sunsetting it in June and coming out with a new campaign in the fall that really highlights our new branding of New York City.

We want to help as many businesses as we can through our “What’s good NYC” social campaign. Our local content creators share their inside tips on how to best experience New York City. We want Locals to tell visitors what’s good and where to go. The path to a great experience in New York City is paved with the opinions of local New Yorkers. We want visitors to have a very deep experience and go as far field within the five boroughs as possible. That’s always been our goal.

*Image Source: iStock.com/ReDunnLev

Kathleen Sampey