What makes St. Louis an attractive place to visit? For meeting attendees at three major conferences held at the America’s Center Convention Complex in 2016, the most common response volunteered was the friendliness of St. Louisans. Research results about Midwestern friendliness might be taken for granted by most of us who live and work here, but it’s a big deal for visitors – a key ingredient in the overall satisfaction that convention-goers feel about their meeting experience.
The challenge for St. Louis is to capture the opinions of visitors about their experience here – and then let others hear their stories. Interviewing conference-goers in the middle of their conference – catching them walking to their next meeting or on their way to a great St. Louis restaurant, and asking them for 3 minutes of their time – is a way to get some truly authentic feedback. And most meeting attendees are happy to talk about their experience: it’s fresh on their minds and they’re flattered to be asked.
Stakeholder Insights, the marketing research firm engaged by America’s Center to conduct this experience mapping study, in fact completed over 500 interviews from which to learn how visitors perceive their meeting experience in our city. The research also provided America’s Center with valuable insights about how they might strengthen that experience for future conferences.
St. Louis has a history of not tooting its own horn enough. Through customer experience mapping, America’s Center Convention Complex can tell a powerful story – or more correctly, have its customers tell that story. Kitty Ratcliffe, President of Explore St. Louis (formerly known as the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission or CVC), shared in the St. Louis Business Journal that 55% of survey respondents said visiting St. Louis had caused their perceptions of St. Louis to be more positive. “Getting people here so they can see this community for themselves helps us to counteract the perceptions that may have been formed.”