Chamber Attracts Cold Chicagoans to Sunny Sedona


December 7, 2018


Some dramatic clouds and light from the setting sun on Catherdral Rock in Sedona Arizona.Back in October, I told you about the tourism ‘sweet spot’ — that special place where the right mix of marketing, engagement and tourism management produces thriving businesses, delighted visitors, a well-preserved environment, and residents who are satisfied that our traffic and quality of life concerns are easing.

I want to report back to you on how the ‘sweet spot’ concept is informing our winter marketing campaign this year.

First, we are advancing a less-is-more approach by aiming to attract visitors who stay longer. Two people staying three nights is more sustainable than six people staying one night – they generate less traffic and have a smaller environmental impact, for example. At the same time, their total spending is at least as significant as the spending of more people who stay a shorter time.

Who are these desirable longer-stay visitors? Our winter marketing is targeting affluent households with an annual income of more than $150,000 that take three or more leisure trips a year. These visitors travel to Sedona fully intending to shop, dine and enjoy recreational and rejuvenation activities for several days. We are targeting those living in cold-weather markets; they are likely to be receptive to the idea of a warm Arizona adventure.

Consequently, we are investing roughly 50 percent of our winter campaign budget in the Chicago area, where we know everyone is cold! We are also building on last year’s success in Chicago, when we saw a 208 percent jump in Chicagoans going to and significantly more Chicago visitors in town.

The Phoenix area continues to be our most fruitful source of visitors. Through mid-February, we are encouraging holiday and post-holiday stress-relief travel to affluent Phoenix households.

Unlike Chicago, our Phoenix-area demographic groups are fairly heavy TV and cable watchers, so a little more than half of our designated Phoenix budget will target over-the-air and zoned-cable advertising. We are working with the latest research to select the networks and programs that appeal to Valley residents looking to get away.

Before the holidays, our Phoenix focus is on seasonal events such as Sedona Northern Lights. Later, we will emphasize ‘Sedona YouTopia,’ a campaign to encourage tired Phoenicians to come to Sedona to relax, rejuvenate, and revitalize with our many healthful outdoor and spiritual renewal activities – a message which implies at least one overnight stay. You can see a sampling of our ads at

The right marketing is only part of the balancing act helping Sedona find our sustainable ‘sweet spot.’ Visitor education, traffic improvements, environmental preservation, and sustainable tourism practices all play a role.

Sedonans themselves continue to be a valuable voice in the Chamber’s move toward sustainable tourism. I look forward to keeping you informed, since an active community is the most important contributor in keeping Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit.

–Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO