Written by Arkansas Real Estate
Bentonville has been in the news a lot recently with the announcements of the Bentonville Film Festival and being named one of the top tourism destinations for 2015. There is a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to make things like this happen. To find out more about the efforts to increase tourism and market Bentonville as an ideal place to visit we decided to sit down and have a chat with Kalene Griffith, President/CEO of the Bentonville Convention and Visitors Bureau now known as Visit Bentonville.
Thank you, Kalene, for chatting with us this week!
Kalene, we understand that your organization is going through a rebranding. Can you tell us more about that process and why you chose now to make a change?
When Crystal Bridges opened in 2011 it really was a catalyst for change throughout Bentonville. The new museum helped transform Bentonville from not only a business destination, but to a leisure and recreation destination as well. Taking that into account, we wanted to make a change to reflect the resurgence of Bentonville and be proactive about its future. So we started the rebranding process and have seen some great things come from it.
The name Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) can be confusing and not everyone will understand what that means. We are in the process of changing our name to Visit Bentonville and through the rebranding process a few key things really jumped out about Visit Bentonville. First, it is a call to action. A CVB could be taken to mean several different things, but Visit Bentonville is really straight forward and simple. Secondly, the new name spells out our main purpose which is encouraging people to come visit Bentonville and all that it has to offer.
We are towards the end of the rebranding process. We have the new name and logo. We are optimistic about having the process finished and ready to roll out during January of 2015.
Aside from Crystal Bridges, what other changes have happened in Bentonville that Visit Bentonville is proud of?
As I said before, when Crystal Bridges announced and opened, it really was a catalyst for change. There was a concerted effort to enhance downtown Bentonville and spread that energy through the city. The revitalized square has seen new shops and restaurants like Tusk and Trotter, Bleachers, Flying Fish, Tavola, Phat Tire, and The Press Room open in the past few years. The opening of the 21c Museum Hotel brought a new element to downtown that hadn’t previously been there. There is also the new construction for more retail and office options underway.
It isn’t just downtown that is seeing improvements and growth. New construction is happening all over the city and trails have been built to connect it all. It is so important to have a walkable city for those visiting from out of town that might not have a car with them.
What can we expect to see in 2015 and beyond?
Some of the things that will happen are the opening of Amazeum Children’s Museum later this year, more retail and restaurant options for residents and visitors, and the continuation of development on the Arts and Market District in the greater downtown area. All of these will continue to have a great economic impact on the city and help make it grow.
Another great thing happening is the feasibility study that is taking place to see if Bentonville can sustain a convention center. We have talked about doing this for a while, but finally decided to pay for the study and look at creating a new convention center option. This will help add a new component to Bentonville and make us more competitive around the nation for convention business. We hope to have the results of the study in the first quarter of 2015.