In The Netherlands a well known traffic junction is the one near the town of Gorinchem. Every morning we hear it on the radio during the morning rush hour. It’s the Netherlands busiest traffic junction. So it’s a household name but not in a good way. And although thousands of people are stuck in traffic there every day most of them have no idea how beautiful the surrounding area is
The city of Gorinchem is de largest authentic fortified city in the Netherlands. A real attraction with its city walls, cannons and windmills. In the area you go on wonderful hikes and bike rides. And with a ferry you can make a nice round tour across the Vestingdriehoek.
The organisation Gorinchem Citymarketing is very busy making the area more known to a larger public. Just last year the organisation took a lot of steps towards this goal. More than enough reason to invite Agnes de Jong, responsible for online and corporate communication, for an interview in our recurring segment “our client in the spotlight”.
When was the Stichting Gorinchem Citymarketing founded?
“Stichting Gorinchem Citymarketing was founded in February of 2018 but the initiative ‘Beautiful Gorinchem’ is a lot older. My former colleague Anja Monshouwer was policy officer Economical affairs for the city of Gorinchem. Together with the foundation for inner city management they created the label Beautiful Gorinchem.
Via this organisation we wanted to highlight the positive side of Gorinchem. We started a Facebook page to show people how beautiful our city is. The goal was to make people proud of their city and to attract more people. It was the council’s wish to attract more tourists and from this wish the professional organisation Stichting Gorinchem Citymarketing was born.”
Who are the stakeholders of Stichting Gorinchem Citymarketing?
“The local retailers association, the foundation inner city management and the city are the three clients. They determine the budgets and the orders. The board decides what needs to happen and makes sure that it is documented in a service agreement.”
Why do you love working for this organisation?
“I’ve been working in culture and tourism my whole life. In the past I worked for Slot Loevestein and the Waterliniemuseum. As a person I’m very interested in all things cultural and history. How much fun is it to promote the city you live in! Because of the job I have I’ve learned more about Gorinchem than ever before. Sometimes I feel like a tourist in my own city. The thing I also like is that we have control over our own tourist office. You can keep in close contact with all the residents and get a better overview of our target audience.”
What are the biggest challenges?
“That is mainly capacity. We recently hired a marketer to fill in for Anja who changed jobs.
There is also a challenge in the fact that we need to create a bigger support base and make our added value more visible so we can achieve more partnerships. The challenge of city marketing is not an easy one. Luckily more and more people understand this because we are transparent about what we are doing. We are very visible in and around the city. And we share our accomplishments.
And people seem to appreciate our efforts more and more. That took a while. And we also noticed that the city of Gorinchem is getting more known. We noticed that there is an increase in requests for shooting TV and radio shows. Not so long ago we had a radio item called: “Booming Gorinchem”. That for us is a clear sign that Gorinchem is getting more known.”
In which way does Gorinchem wants to position itself?
“Gorinchem is the largest authentic fortified city in the Netherlands. That is our biggest USP and the one we communicate the most. Our main target audience consists of tourists, not people living, working or studying in Gorinchem.
People generally don’t know how beautiful Gorinchem is. For instance: the most photogenic buildings can be found at the riverside. You don’t see them when you enter Gorinchem. That’s why we started a branding campaign in collaboration with New Sales Company. “
What were the results you noticed when we started the campaign?
“We noticed that the article we published in the Telegraaf (Dutch newspaper) had a significant impact. When we interviewed people visiting Gorinchem they told us they read the article. During the campaign we also noticed an increase in website traffic. It was much higher than the year before and that of course is a terrific result.”
Are you only ‘targeting’ domestic tourists or also tourists from other countries?
“We want to do both. Our goal is to contribute to the livability of the city. The city needs to be attractive for its citizens as well as for tourists. We do focus on day trippers but that’s because we don’t have enough capacity for people to stay overnight. We do have some locations but they are always booked. We are very happy that Van der Valk Hotels decided to build a new hotel near the A15 highway with a cinema and casino. That should attract people that want to stay longer in our area.”
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