It’s a question asked daily across the state by those concerned about their small Texas towns, and it’s a tough question, I’ll give you that. However, there absolutely are things a town can do to draw attention to itself as well as to snag some of the vast amount of money spent in this state on heritage tourism.
The first thing that the powers that be must do is to get together and brainstorm and brainstorm some more about a possible theme that will tie the town together (a theme is imperative in small towns), and then, of course, individual business people will have to sign on with the idea for it to work, but be careful! If you advertise yourself as one thing and visitors find something else when they arrive, you will have done MUCH more harm than anything else. Remember, negative word of mouth spreads fast!
So, what kinds of themes am I talking about? You are only limited by your imagination. Of course, a town’s name may make half of the decision for you. Towns with Old West names should brand everything in their towns so that people find what they expect to find when they arrive. Remember, heritage tourism in Texas is HUGE. If you don’t believe me, just check out the ways Texas is budgeting it’s tourism advertising dollars!
The old Tee Pee Motel pictured above is a perfect example for a town with an Indian name or a town rich in Indian heritage. Visitors in search of a real experience will line up (totally ignoring the finer hotels) to allow their children the experience of sleeping in a “tee pee.”
Another perfect case in point can be found in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Who would go to Chattanooga and stay in a hotel? No, it is the Chatanooga Choo Choo…located in the hottest rail yard in the country…where you have to book a reservation months in advance to be allowed to sleep aboard one of the trains, and pay quite a bit extra to do so!
Why? Because we all want to know what it was like to sleep aboard a train…or else we want our children and grandchildren to know.
Soooo…if you are really serious about wanting to market your town, it’s time to get to brainstorming. That is exactly what the successful little towns have done. If you’re not serious, then just keep right on wondering aloud, “What can we do?”