- Associated Press - Saturday, September 26, 2015

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The biggest little city in the world isn’t big enough yet to draw millennial visitors from the San Francisco Bay Area, researchers told officials this week.

Researchers told the Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority on Thursday that young adults seen Reno as cheap, dirty and “geared toward a different generation.”

In a presentation before tourism officials, Oakland, California-based EMC Research said the city will have to use big visuals to lure in big groups of millennials with money to burn. Sara LaBatt, who announced the firm’s findings, said online focus group surveys found that tourists between 21 and 35 years old are drawn by images of activities they can be a part of such as the annual Great Reno Balloon Race.

“Pictures of hot-air balloons, they like,” LaBatt said. “They love looking at baseball and balloons, and they want to be in the pictures. Showing imagery is important. They want to walk to things. They like the idea of being at a place where they can do everything.”

Millennials still don’t think of Reno as a place for a unique vacation though the city has a foundation for it, LaBatt said.

Tourism board members said trying to draw millennials has been an ongoing challenge for years. John Farahi, CEO of the parent company that owns Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, said there are too many spots with dead spaces.

“You drive from downtown to the convention center, and many pockets are an eyesore, all these restaurants and businesses closed,” Farahi said. “I hope we can turn that artery into a major attraction.”

The Reno-Sparks Convention & Visitors Authority has been broadening marketing efforts in the wake of more marketing funds. The Nevada Legislature approved a room tax revenue that could bring as much as $4 million a year to the Reno-Tahoe area, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported (https://on.rgj.com/1G9dso5 ). Now, Reno officials are searching for a qualified marketing firm to help promote the city on a national level.

“Millennials are really specific about what they’re looking for, and we really don’t have an identity with millennials,” said Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve. “More now than ever, we need to get it right.”


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, https://www.rgj.com

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