A new direction in marketing during uncertain times



February 3, 2023



The most immediate critical issue for the Chamber is helping steady the local economy in uncertain times. Tourism has slowed. From hotels and shops to restaurants and art galleries, businesses are feeling the pinch: 77% of respondents to a recent Chamber survey said they expect to break even or lose money in the next month.

We can help by sustainably reposition Sedona in the competitive national tourism picture — from which we have been absent during two years of a marketing “pause.” While we have been on the sidelines, many of our competitor destinations, from Santa Fe to Santa Barbara to Park City, continue busily attracting carefully targeted visitors with intelligent campaigns that promote respect for their environment and lifestyle.

Serving our business community is first and foremost. Sustainability teaches us that solid businesses are linked to a well-cared-for environment, respect for our quality of life and ensuring we give visitors [whose spending makes up the bulk of our economy] authentic experiences that resonate with our values.

Sensible marketing is critical to achieving this. In recent months, since our members have been voicing concerns about a decline in business and the city has forecast failure to hit its tax revenue targets for the fiscal year, we have advocated for returning to a thoughtful, well-planned strategy that reestablishes Sedona in the minds of well-to-do travelers. We can offer a unique combination of natural encounters, spiritual awakening and a sophisticated cultural milieu that can attract educated, aware travelers eager to contribute to sustaining America’s great open spaces.

A reintroduction of Sedona, for example, could present Red Rock Country as resonating with spirituality, healthy outdoor adventure, fine food and art, a refined sensibility of what it means to care for such a special place, and a fierce commitment to doing so. Moreover, people drawn by this approach will not likely damage our trails, leave trash on the ground, or disrupt our neighborhoods with loud parties. Santa Fe, Taos, Park City, Vail and several other western mountain towns exemplify how innovative marketing can benefit the economy and local lifestyle while naturally self-perpetuating [travelers don’t go to Vail to tear up the trails with OHVs].

So, what are the next steps in reintroducing Sedona as a sustainable place where culture and nature form a desirable, authentic experience? Innovation and leadership have always been our forte, and to begin, we will consult our Chamber partners and the broader business community about new directions, costs and to hear what they have to say.

Sedonans know tourism is our primary economic driver, and we need the right kind of tourists to make it work — a topic debated to the point of paralysis in recent years. With decades of service advocating for Sedona’s prosperity and sense of community, planning tourism management and marketing is in our DNA and benefits all Sedonans. We look forward to pioneering imaginative new ideas with our civic and business partners.

Please join us at the Community Pulse event on February 9 for in-person briefings on critical local issues from the key players. It starts at 4 p.m. at Red Rock High’s Sedona Performing Arts Center. There is no charge; you can RSVP at SedonaChamberEvents.com.


Michelle Conway, President/CEO
Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau