Tempe is a small city, just 40.2 square miles, but carries the spirit of a lively metropolis with beautiful weather, growing families, brilliant students, small businesses, unique restaurants, mountainous skylines and a successful university, making it the perfect, sunny climate to reside or visit.
The city stands out with attributes like Arizona State University, Tempe Town Lake and the Mill Avenue District, and enjoys sharing its turf with multiple large-scale events that residents and visitors enjoy throughout the year.
Tempe is known for hosting numerous large events like the Insight Bowl, the Ironman Arizona Triathlon and the P.F. Changs Rock “n” Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, all of which bring large crowds to Tempe.
The job of the Tempe Tourism Office is to promote Tempe, helping to encourage travel to our city.
“Tourism: (n.) travel for recreational, leisure or business purposes. Tourism is important and in some cases vital for many countries. It brings in large amounts of income in payment for goods and services.” -Wikipedia
The tourism office also serves as the destination expert of where to stay, eat, and go while in town.
Recently, when I interviewed the President and CEO of the Tempe Tourism Office, Stephanie Nowack, I noticed the large display of colorful brochures that lined the lobby wall near the entrance. There was information on shopping, restaurants, museums, national parks and attractions, locally and throughout the state of Arizona. [Stop by their office on 51 W. Third St. Suite 105, across from the light rail station for free brochures.]
A large part of the Tempe Tourism Office’s job is to form relationships in the community by linking the travelers’ needs to what Tempe has to offer.
“The value of the tourism office is facilitating connections for those people who want to come to town, whether it’s leisure or business, and make that link with the businesses in town,” Nowack said. “We’re trying to drive revenue to the businesses, to the hotels, to the restaurants, and provide information about the attractions that Tempe has to offer, like Sea Life [at Arizona Mills Mall] is a great location that we promote.”
The tourism office advertises with social media, PR campaigns, travel writers, AAA programs and commercials to reach specific demographics. Tourism can play a role in the success of our local businesses, hotels and restaurants, during slow times of the year.
“One of the greatest opportunities and the greatest challenges of our job is really to differentiate Tempe, to figure out what is it that makes Tempe different from any other city. Because when we are talking to meeting planner, or a possible traveler, I need to describe what is it about Tempe that will make them decide to come here. Tempe Town Lake is for sure a deciding factor, as well as ASU, Gammage and the Mill Avenue District.”
Tempe draws visitors from all 50 states and even many other countries making Tempe unlike any other city in Arizona.
“We get both business visitors, people who are coming for conferences and business trips, as well as leisure travelers. Our percentage is definitely higher for the leisure traveler,” Nowack said. “According to recent research, the main reasons that people come to Tempe are visiting friends and family, coming for special events and activities, and ASU.”
Being near the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport also makes Tempe an easy option for travelers. Research tells Nowack that our guests mostly come from California, Texas and Colorado. The top countries for our travelers are Canada and Mexico.
Once you arrive, public transportation is easy to use and is available by cab, bus or light rail. Or rent a bicycle for a day or two at The Bicycle Cellar.
The Ironman Arizona Triathlon is a great example of the process the city takes to approve an event because the race was already established and wanted to add the Tempe location to the schedule.
“I got a phone call one day from the president of Ironman North America. He said we are aware of Tempe and think you have a great city. We’re looking to expand our marathon series into the Southwest and we would like to talk to you about bringing it to Tempe,” Nowack said.
The special events manager from the city, along with Nowack, conducted extensive research and then traveled to Madison, Wis., to experience how an Ironman race was handled. Because of the Ironman’s flawless execution and the guarantee for large crowds, they decided to bring the event to Tempe.
“We could see it first hand. What was really involved with the operations? What were the logistics? What would be required for us to put on an event like that? It was a very thoughtful, methodical process, which has really turned out to be one of our greatest events ever.”
Over 3,000 people participated in the Ironman Arizona Triathlon that was held on Nov. 19, 2011, at Tempe Town Lake with the highest number of participants from California, Texas and Colorado.
For that one event, which is a one-day event, the economic impact is between $4 million and $5 million in revenue, Nowack said. It’s a great visitor to attract because they are from a high demographic.
The Ironman Arizona will return to Tempe next November, but the P. F. Changs Rock “n” Roll Marathon and Half Marathon are the next large events to gather in Tempe. The race expands to parts of Phoenix and Scottsdale, as well. This race is a qualifier for other marathons, which should bring in large numbers of people from outside of the state to compete in Tempe.
P. F. Changs Rock “n” Roll Marathon and Half Marathon
When: Jan. 15, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.
- Half Marathon – Starts from Downtown Tempe on Mill Avenue & Third Street
- Marathon- Starts from Downtown Phoenix at CityScape
- Finish Line: Packard Drive between ASU’s Sun Devil and Sun Angel stadiums