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Reno Tahoe Travel Booms in 2013

Tourism officials announced that Reno Tahoe USA had more visitors in 2013 than any year since 2007!

In addition to strong sporting and convention business and new events – like the Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction, visitors are finding their passions in Reno Tahoe USA.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… Passion naturally thrives in Reno Tahoe USA. Maybe you’ll find it on one of our magnificent mountains. Or at a special event that truly lives up to its name. Or at one of our world-class spas, showrooms, rivers, lakes, museums, or fairways. For some, the main reason for coming here is our famously epic skiing and snowboarding. For others, it may be the slightly eccentric camel ostrich and zebra races. But no matter what the reason – or the season – there are over a thousand ways to pursue your passions in northern Nevada’s high desert playground.

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A New Breed of Visitor Center Opens in Reno

If you’re visiting Reno Tahoe and wondering where to find information on all the exciting activities and events the area has to offer, you’re in luck; May 11 marked the grand opening of the new Reno Tahoe Visitor Center!

7206056240_014915a1d5_zLocated inside the popular Reno eNVy retail store, the vibrantly colored center is fully stocked with updated maps, guides, coupons, gifts and more. Guests will find information on everything from events and festivals, to biking and hiking trails, to ghost tours and beyond. It’s a one-stop shop.

The new visitors center is a collaborative effort between Reno eNVy owner Scott Dunseath, the RSCVA and the City of Reno. “As the RSCVA works to create more traffic flow and bring more visitors to the area, it’s important to have an accessible location where they can find the information they need to get the most out of their experience,” explains RSCVA President and CEO Christopher Baum.

Dunseath recognized the opportunity to reach out to visitors in search of information after moving his store to its new location at 135 N. Sierra Street. Nestled downtown in a high foot-traffic area near popular businesses and the Truckee River, the Reno 7206059998_18b19e3cfd_zTahoe Visitor Center is the perfect place for tourists to begin their visit, offering a plethora of free information in a fun, “Reno style” atmosphere.

In addition to browsing the information racks, guests can also enjoy a one-of-a-kind photo op inside the authentic Airstream trailer mounted on the back wall.

So to get the most out of your next visit (and an awesome t-shirt) be sure to stop by the Reno Tahoe Visitor Center.

A Fearless German Intern Takes on Reno Tahoe

DSC_0004Benedikt Martinac of Germany is studying International Tourism in Eastbourne, United Kingdom. He will graduate in June 2011. His smarts, sense of humor and extensive travel experience will present him with limitless career opportunities, and success, in the tourism industry. This summer (2010) Benedikt decided to do hands-on learning, specifically in the American tourism industry. Being the smart man that he is, he chose to spend his summer in the great state of Nevada. Below is Ben’s adventure in the Silver State from his own perspective. We hope you enjoy reading his take on the Biggest Little City as much as we enjoyed having him.

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I’ve been in Reno for 5 weeks now and can’t get enough of the city and its charm. But it’s not only the city. There is so much to see and experience in the area. Hiking, cycling, mountain biking, all kinds of water sports, extreme sports and on the calmer side plenty of golf opportunities, parks, lakes. You name it.

During my internship at various tourism related businesses, mediated by the Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT), I learned a lot about the Reno-Tahoe area and the fun things to experience nearby.

Last weekend I finally had the chance to show what I’ve picked up so far because three friends were visiting from the Bay area. I was really looking forward to showing them around and check out what the night life is like in “The Biggest Little City in the World”.

I met my friends at my place and took them downtown to check in the hotel. While driving towards Virginia Street, Reno’s casino strip, the tower of the Eldorado Hotel Casino, illuminated in bright pink, and we knew instantly we’re going to have a great time. We parked the car in the garage and via skywalk we were right in the lobby. We checked in, dropped of the bags in the room and rushed back downstairs to the casino for a little gambling session. But no gambling without food – we probably wouldn’t be able to handle all the free drinks and our odds of winning would lower even more. So what better to start off with than the “Best Burger in Town”? As different magazines, such as Nevada Magazine, voted it the best burger in Reno and Northern Nevada, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on one of the notorious Awful Awful. At first the name is kind of a turnoff and makes you think if it’s the right choice for dinner but it’s supposed to be “Awful Big and Awful Good” so we headed to the Little Nugget Diner, located at the Nugget Casino on Virginia Street.

Awful AwfulEntering the Nugget, I was back to the thought if this was the right idea for dinner. Old dark carpets, dark lightning and sketchy gamblers occupying the slots give the place a peculiar atmosphere. The little Nugget diner, at the back of the casino, doesn’t make a much better impression. But its style is kind of appealing. Sleazy, greasy, with only two counters and no tables, the 50’s style diner seemed like it’s going to give us the right amount of energy we would need for a long night.

So we ordered our 4 Awful-Awfuls and waited until a few minutes later the gal at the counter shouted out “order 70, order 70!” That was us – we turned around and what was that? Four huge burgers with a lot of fresh toppings, and if that wasn’t enough, a basket with a pound of home seasoned French fries on the side made “mission Awful-Awful” seem impossible. We looked at each other and we knew nobody wanted to fail.

The first bite was just amazing. A homemade onion bun, fresh lettuce, pickles, perfectly melted cheese and of course a 100% beef patty, so juicy and full of taste that my taste buds were going crazy. I expected it to be good but not this good. I guess the taste doesn’t come solely from the burger itself. The whole atmosphere and the little shabby interior add a whole lot of seasoning to the Awful Awful and make it what it is. Together with the fries it is the perfect combination. Every bite was a delight and surprisingly the burger and the basket of fries disappeared faster than expected

After our adventure at the Nugget, we decided to finally gamble for a while. Barely able to move and 5 pounds heavier than before, we schlepped ourselves back to the Eldorado Casino. The ear shattering ringing of the slot machines and the unmistakable smell of cold smoke, booze and old ladies perfume, same as in every casino I’ve ever been to, make you feel like you’re at the right spot to win some cash or probably lose it but who knows, right?

Three of us sat down at a black jack table, while the other played some slots. To my surprise it started off really good for all of us. We were winning and winning. One chicken dinner after the other – we were on fire! At the end I’ve tripled my stake as did the others and an even bigger surprise just came around the corner. The slot machines seemed to like our friend too because he came back with $350 he just won.

This has been a pretty great evening so far. We had won quite some money and had a whole day in front of us. Now a nice, cool local brew to celebrate our success would be the perfect round up for the night and since we were in the “Best” mood, why not give the “Best Microbrew, and “Best Beer Selection,” winner a chance? Also inside the Eldorado, the “Brew Brothers” offers a selection of 8 microbrews, all with a very unique taste to it. After trying out a few I determined my favorite – the gold dollar pale ale – a really nice American-style pale ale with a very distinct hop flavor and spoors of citrus in the aftertaste. And the best thing – these delicious beers are pretty reasonable. A 15 oz. beer costs 3.50 and 22 oz cost 4.50. Enjoying our beers and the live music, we started planning the next day. It wouldn’t be any less exciting.

Lake TahoeThe next morning, a bit hung-over, our next stop was Lake Tahoe. I definitely wanted to show it to the guys as it is such a big contrast to Reno and shows the diversity of the area perfectly. As one takes Hwy 50 from Carson City up to the Lake the change of environment is stunning. Feeling the rising pressure in our ears, we noticed the change of terrain from desert-like to alpine mountains with ever green pine tree forests. After a few miles we’ve reached the high point and from now on it was all downhill which meant the Lake wasn’t far anymore. And there it was in the distance. Dazzled by the reflection of the sun on the lake, we couldn’t wait to jump in the water.

The lake was full of boats, yachts, windsurfers, water-skiers and other water lovers. But what really caught our attention were paddle boarders. Standing up on a surf board and paddling their way around. We really wanted to give it a shot but we had other plans.

In the afternoon we had planned a whitewater rafting trip on Truckee River. When we arrived at the meeting point we were briefed on how to behave on the river and were given all the safety guidelines necessary for an enjoyable day.

So all suited up in life jackets and helmets we launched the rafts and the trip could start. We were following the guide through some of the most beautiful and remote areas. Trees alongside the river banks give you the feeling there’s nothing else around. The whooshing of the water and the sounds of nature had a really calming effect and it was the perfect getaway. The combination between the class 2-3 rapids and very calm parts make it a challenging but also very recreating adventure. Being out in the wild, totally cut off from the everyday stress is something outstanding and irreplaceable.

After two hours I started to feel the paddling in my arms. Although we were going downstream it was very exhausting. Suddenly, out of nowhere, buildings started showing up at the side of the river. First a few, then more and more, and from one moment to the other coming from total exclusion of civilization, we paddled through downtown Reno. A few more rapids and drop pools in the White Water Park and we made it to the shore at Wingfield Park.

Pretty exhausted but still up for some more attractions, I decided to take the guys to Virginia City, a living ghost town. The old gold mining town seems like it is stuck in the 1800s. Driving into town on C Street is like entering another time. The Sherriff greets you with a friendly “Howdy”, Cowboys nod their heads and tap their hats when passing by and the ladies in their big, decadent dresses welcome you with waving hands.

VCVirginia City used to be one of the richest cities in the United States. In the 1800s a lot of men tried to find their luck in the mining industry and many did. Gold and silver attracted many people and just a few years after its establishment in 1859, Virginia City grew to more than 10,000 people. Also, Samuel Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, called Virginia City home and started writing under his alias in February 1863.

Browsing the many little unique shops, we came across the famous suicide table in the delta saloon. Supposedly, back in the 1800s the former owner of the saloon, Black Jake shot himself after losing all his life saving at this very table one evening. Rumors say that his ghost was haunting the Delta ever since. Subsequent to him two other owners took their own lives at the same table years later.

We wandered around town and what better place to go for a drink than the infamous “Bucket of Blood” – a saloon so notorious and brutal that the name mirrors the happenings inside. Apparently, so many fights happened nightly at the infamous saloon, that after cleaning the floors, the bucket where the mop was wrung out was filled with blood. Hence, The Bucket of Blood”.

No blood on the floors anymore but the feeling of entering a saloon in the Wild West and being prepared for a bar fight breaking out any minute is still present. If you too are lucky enough to score a table at the windows, enjoy the breathtaking view overlooking the valley and lean back while watching the sundown.

-Benedikt Martinac, Germany

Nevada’s Tourism Ad Campaign is a Record-Breaker

NevadaA year-long advertising campaign that strategically focused on the most lucrative travel markets delivered record-breaking results, Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki, Nevada Commission on Tourism (NCOT) chair, announced.

“Our ad campaign reached a carefully targeted group of consumers with the means and desire to travel and convinced them to visit us,” Krolicki said.  “In the face of a national economic downturn, NCOT’s winter and summer ads attracted visitors who spent money in Nevada that generated $110 million in tax revenue directly attributed to the ad campaign, a greater return on our investment than ever before.”

Every $1 that NCOT invested in the ads generated $31 in tax revenue.

“We ran a thrifty campaign aimed at our most responsive and proven markets and got our message to the right people,” NCOT Director Dann Lewis said. “We also integrated the media to include television, Google In-stream video, Internet advertising and national travel magazines, a combination that helped increase our return on investment. It was a prescription for success and we’re gratified to get such good-news results for Nevada tourism.”

The percentage of consumers who saw or heard the ads in markets where they ran jumped from 29.7 percent in 2009 to 42.9 percent in fiscal 2010, which ended June 30. 

Winter ads featured skiing at Lake Tahoe for TV, and the engaging “Capture Your Heart” ad, which showed two hands forming a heart that framed a Lake Tahoe scene, for Internet and print.  Summer ads focused on outdoor recreation for TV, Internet and print. The ads ran in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Reno, the San Francisco Bay Area, Phoenix, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Sacramento, and Salt Lake City.

Key to the campaign’s remarkable achievement was using new technology and strategies to pinpoint only specific markets where consumers were most likely to respond to travel ads, rather than advertising across entire regions, Lewis said, noting that NCOT invested $3.5 million for the entire year’s campaign, 30.6 percent less than in 2009 because of budget reductions.

If you have any questions regarding this campaign, please contact Jolyn Laney, deputy director of marketing and advertising, Nevada Commission on Tourism.

-Content courtesy of  Nevada Commission on Tourism

Google Chooses Nevada Commission on Tourism as Golden Child of Ad Campaigns

LovelockGoogle has chosen the Nevada Commission on Tourism’s (NCOT) online winter ski commercial as a success-story case study after it attracted 8 million viewers in seven targeted markets, said NCOT chair Lt. Gov. Brian K. Krolicki.

NCOT was among the first tourism entities in the country to use Google’s new technology, in-stream video, which places video ads into online video programs, including television segments, in a commercial break format as on regular television. Viewers who were exposed to the ad in markets where it appeared were 33 percent more likely to consider Nevada as a vacation destination than were those who saw other NCOT online ads that did not use Google’s technology, NCOT’s research showed.

“We seek innovative, cost-conscious ways to maximize the return on investment of each tourism dollar, and Google’s video advertising program achieved this for us,” Krolicki said. “The ads captured the attention of the consumers we sought and stimulated their interest in visiting Nevada. They got our message.”

Tracking technology showed that 45 percent of the viewers watched the entire 30-second commercial that appeared on in-stream video. The lively ad showed skiers on snowy Sierra Nevada mountain slopes overlooking blue Lake Tahoe. Travel Nevada: winter commercial.

“We have advertised Nevada’s tourism attractions in many ways, including traditional television, outdoor advertising, online display ads and mobile ads, and we found the exposure and maneuverability of Google’s in-stream video really got results,” NCOT Director Dann Lewis said.

Google used a process called geo-targeting to show the NCOT ad in designated marketing areas that offer convenient travel to Nevada and are home to skiers and snowboarders aged 25 to 54 with high-level household income: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco Bay Area, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago and Phoenix.

River FestNCOT’s research company, TNS Custom Research, and its Digital Marketing Effectiveness Study enables the tourism agency to track the effectiveness of its advertising campaigns and measure the return on investment, which last winter, when the ads ran, was $22 for each $1 invested. NCOT is funded by hotel room tax revenue that visitors pay, not by the state General Fund.

Google’s NCOT case study is available online Google TV Ads Microsite: success stories.

For more information or news from Travel Nevada, click here!