Letter to the Editor:

During the past year there has been much discussion about regionalism and the need for increased cooperation in order to maximize economic development through tourism. The Lake County CVB, Indiana’s second largest travel/tourism organization, has long advocated that the customer defines the market, products and experiences they wish to buy.

Our organization began adopting a private sector, market driven culture decades ago. The customer/visitor sees what we have come to know as the South Shore - the geographic location between Chicago and New Buffalo. We continue to market the entire region to meeting planners, travel writers and leisure travelers. The research we conduct and the feedback we receive from customers, restaurants, attractions and hotels confirm this method of thinking – that they see the South Shore as one market, in one time zone, using the Chicago media, along a very clearly defined set of highways. Our customers do not consider us in a region with Notre Dame or Amish Country.

The LCCVB staff remains focused and determined to give the visitor the positive experience they demand by delivering the regional product the customer wants, not one that CVBs “think” the customer “should” want. One of the greatest successes in our customer driven approach is South Shore Sports Promotions. Sports event planners with Professional Bowlers Association and AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) see the South Shore as one destination. The National Softball Association (NSA) Fast Pitch Girls Softball and Lutheran Basketball bring thousands of athletes and families to the South Shore and fill hotels, restaurants and attractions in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. Should Chicago land the Olympics, our business practice will position our partners for immediate economic impact, increased profits and access to the most important special event our generation will ever see.

The LCCVB continues to define its successes (return on investment) through measurable results; how many rooms occupied, attractions visited, increases in gaming revenues and meals served. Many other agencies measure success by counting meetings attended, advertisements placed and brochures distributed. Though our new partnership program, the private sector hospitality businesses see the results and continue to invest their limited marketing dollars in the LCCVB’s programs. Since its inception 7 months ago, more than 125 businesses from three states and six counties have resoundingly said “yes” to the Bureau’s approach by writing the check. For a unit of government to receive voluntary financial investment from the private sector, speaks volumes.

The LCCVB will stay the course and follow the mission created nearly 25 years ago; to be the sales and marketing organization that leads the hospitality industry, spurs its growth, protects its taxation and improves the regional economy through increased visitor spending.

Speros A. Batistatos, FCDME

President and Chief Executive Officer

Lake County CVB