IBJNews

GLADDEN: Build the Indianapolis brand with the very best service

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

gladden-james-voices.jpgThe innovation that led to the execution of Super Bowl XLVI was truly remarkable. On so many dimensions (crowd sizes in Super Bowl Village, scarves, the Legacy project, volunteers, murals and Super Service to name a few), Indianapolis demonstrated that it is a first-class city. It demonstrated once again, and on a level never before seen, that Indianapolis is a best practice for those studying hallmark event execution.

Yet, a January IBJ article by Anthony Schoettle highlighted the challenge ahead. Research demonstrates that Indianapolis does not have a strong brand image for two-thirds of the U.S. population.

I can relate to this. After a 20-year hiatus, I left Massachusetts in 2009 to return to Indiana. I recall the quizzical looks I faced out East when I told them about our move, and how little people knew about Indianapolis. It was only those who were from the Midwest or spent significant time in Indianapolis who could share in my enthusiasm about Indianapolis.

This is something that needs to change.

This city deserves a more prominent place in the eyes of people nationwide. Indianapolis’ excellence at hosting major sporting events is a component, and it provides a formidable and continued foundation on which to build.

But there is a need to look at this a little differently. It starts with asking a question—what makes Indianapolis such a great sport-event host?

The answer lies in the effusive praise heaped on Indianapolis. Put all the media coverage together and a major theme emerges: Indianapolis delivers an unusual level of service. Hoosier hospitality is real and it is genuine. It is something unmistakably unique. It is part of our DNA and critical to brand-building efforts.

Why can’t Indianapolis be differentiated on the level of service it provides to any visitor to this great city? To build a brand based on service, an organization must go way above and beyond, deliver beyond people’s wildest expectations. Isn’t that what just happened?

In a service industry like tourism, people make all the difference to a brand. In Indianapolis, the tourism brand can be built on excellent service. It has worked for Disney in the amusement park business. It has worked for Nordstrom at the retail level.

While many might need a break from “Have a Super Day,” the concept of collaboration around exceptional service to provide a unique and positive experience must continue.

Imagine what it could look like.

As visitors enter or leave the city, they would see messaging (billboards and signs) about Indianapolis’ brand promise related to service. In addition to the standard visitor information materials available, Indianapolis would encourage its guests to evaluate all aspects of their visit (as all good service-oriented brands do) through an online portal. If someone indicated a less-than-stellar experience, they would receive a follow-up communication from a local volunteer.

Programs would continue to engage hospitality employees of the city in a collaborative rather than competitive way. Concierge and front-line hotel employees could collaborate on a Twitter account that highlighted their “picks” for great experiences (think the employee picks section at Barnes & Noble). Customer relationship management tools could be used to create a “people that liked this attraction, also liked … ” referral tool (think the communication from Amazon.com).

These ideas are only a start. I have heard Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association President Leonard Hoops talk about not one, but multiple, visitor centers (even one that is mobile). Great idea!

Indianapolis collaborates like no other city to deliver an exceptional experience. The Super Bowl illustrated this point. It is a point of differentiation that must be further developed, activated and promoted.

While I recognize modesty is also part of the Indianapolis DNA, the great thing about a brand built on service is that the messaging is more subtle. The proof is in the delivery and thus is even more geared to attracting repeat visitors.

A brand built on a core promise of excellent service is also consistent with Indianapolis’ other assets such as a connected city with many attractions within a 15-minute walk.

Great brands are built over long periods. For about 30 years now, Indianapolis has over-delivered on its promise of a great experience when attending a mega-event. Indianapolis is a city on the rise. Promoting service as central to the brand is a logical next step.•

__________

Gladden is dean, physical education and tourism management at IUPUI. Views expressed here are the writer’s.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?

ADVERTISEMENT