Destination marketing is meeting destination management in Kansas City. In March, Visit KC established a new venture called Spark, a for-profit entity designed to help event professionals find “the region’s best venues, best experiences, and best value.” It’s a never-been-done-before concept in the DMO world, and while Spark will operate separately from Visit KC in terms of staffing and funding, the new company will rent office space in the nonprofit organization’s downtown headquarters.
Ashley Rossbach, who previously worked as Visit KC’s internal business-development project director, is now director of sales and experiences for Spark. She told PCMA that the market is perfect for this kind of opportunity. “A lot of cities are saturated with destination management companies,” Rossbach said. “But Kansas City really doesn’t have as many options.”
So far, it seems that Spark is filling the gap. Rossbach said the initial response has been “overwhelmingly positive.” Event professionals coming to Kansas City all will have the opportunity to work with Visit KC’s services team, Rossbach said, and if they’re looking for something more specific, Spark will participate in a standardized bid process for its services, which include logistics planning, entertainment and venue selection, F&B, and more.
Image courtesy of David Arbogast via Visit KC
Colleen Phalen, executive vice president of program development and meetings at DMAI, called the Spark model “a fantastic idea.” “If you’re embedded with the DMO, it’s a great concept,” Phalen told PCMA. “You have a step ahead, and you can give your clients a step ahead, too.
Spark’s initial value proposition is clearly focused in Kansas City, but Rossbach’s long-term vision for the company extends beyond its hometown. “What we do today will continue to evolve as client requests and opportunities present themselves,” Rossbach said. “If a client enjoys working with us first in Kansas City, they could hire us to assist with creativity and innovation in other markets, too.
While the business is still in its infancy, Rossbach’s vision looks promising. “Since it’s never been done before,” Phalen said, “theoretically, the possibilities are endless.”
Visit KC isn’t the only DMO embracing a new role. Check out “The New DMO” in Convene to see how the model for destination marketing organizations is evolving.