Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 4:53 PM on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

ACVB becomes Visit Anchorage

By Jonathan Grass
Morris News Service - Alaska

What's in a name? It can actually mean a lot, which is why the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau has changed its name to Visit Anchorage.

The title that once spelled out ACVB is officially no more. Other than that, everything remains the same. Tourism promotion, programs and the mission go unaltered as the organization continues its goal of stimulating tourism growth and diversity.

In fact, reinforcing Visit Anchorage's mission of bringing people and businesses into the Anchorage area is one of the main factors in the name change. Visit Anchorage President and Chief Executive Officer Julie Saupe said the new name is very consistent with this mission and states it very clearly.

"Our mission is to be the destination marketer for Anchorage. We have a contract with the Municipality of Anchorage and that is our job to attract and serve visitors to our community," Saupe said.

The second reason for the switch is to drive up traffic both online and into the city. Saupe and Visit Anchorage Public Relations Manager Jack Bonney said the phrase "visit Anchorage" is one of the most common terms entered into search engines by those trying to find out more about the city.

The name change comes with a few other changes as well. Visit Anchorage is blending elements of the city's brand image into its promotion. "We kind of redesigned our corporate identity to more closely mirror the city's Big Wild Life brand," Bonney said.

This is evident in the organization's new logo that features a combination pattern of human handprints and animal hoof prints.

The change also comes with a revamped website (www.anchorage.net), which Saupe said will launch in January. The new site promises to be more robust and flexible with fresh content for newcomers to Anchorage. Bureau member businesses also will be able to better represent themselves and provide more information.

While there have been additions to the website over the years, administrators saw this as an opportunity to redesign the website to streamline some of that information to make it easier to find. Online visitors will be able to connect better to the content of things to see and do. Also, business links will allow them to find contacts for some of those activities and attractions.

"Together it really was a very effective way to capture visitors," Saupe said.

"It really inspires and motivates people to actually sign on the dotted line and come to Anchorage," Bonney said.

Administrators studied convention and visitors bureaus in other states and learning that quite a few are starting to make similar changes for the exact same reasons: to help reinforce the mission and drive up online traffic.

"I am sure that we are the first convention and visitors bureau in Alaska to do this," Saupe said.

Bonney said the nice thing about the change is that this builds on ACVB's 36-year history. While the name is different, this is the same organization that has attracted and served Anchorage visitors.

The timing also plays a part. The updated website and other materials such as the visitor's guide will incorporate the name right at the start of the new year. Bonney said that while this was not the primary driver, the timing will still help the integration go more seamlessly.

Changing a brand name that has been in place for almost four decades doesn't happen overnight. Things like signage are currently being switched to the new name. Other things that still carry the old name will be phased out. Bonney said the whole process should be completed very soon.

Jonathan Grass is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce.