How And How Not To Attract Visitors


Eight of the region’s BIAs are spending a collective $70,000 to attract Detroiters and Michiganders to their business areas. The local CTV station oddly said the effort will cause millions to arrive at their doorsteps. Unfortunately, the arrival of two Americans could dash the hopes and signal that advertising is not the biggest worry.

On September 6, the Detroit Free Press published a Mark Kurlyandchik report after the scribbler had visited Via Italia with a well-known Detroit chef in tow. What the journalist wrote may have his countrymen cancelling their reservations at Windsor restaurants.

And for good reason.

Kurlyandchik being frank was a blessing, because it can alert the BIAs to their problems.

After an afternoon of finding Erie Street deserted, the two Americans headed to a trattoria.

“Spago is where everyone had been hiding, it seemed,” Kurlyandchik wrote.

But what he said next should have the BIAs reconsidering their $70k spend.

“Our meal is less than stellar – not one we’d ever cross the border for, Lombardo [the chef] and I agree.”

As anyone with advertising experience knows, and will probably tell you for a minor consulting fee, spending any amount of money will not bring customers back if they are not satisfied with the service or the product.

One of the piques of this corner of The Square is the abysmal food served at some restaurants. Some tips for the offenders, and they probably know who they are, pasta should melt in your mouth, so too veal. It shouldn’t be shoe leather tough.

This is not to say all restaurants are bad.

In Via Italia alone, Motor Burger and Ciao Pasta Bar have charming people serving exceptional food.

What the enterprising BIAs need to do is up the game of their restauranteurs. They need to set minimum standards of food quality, if only to ensure their cooks can recognize good food.

Without question, $70,000 spent on promotion is too small and won’t do much. A better idea would be to use the money to fund a performance improvement program with the goal of wowing visitors.

BIAs need to understand they face considerable competition and having a weak product will not attract the millions who live in Detroit. They have much better options at home.

In fact, in January, National Geographic singled out the D as the top unexpected food destination in North America. Nat Geo limited its selection to one location in each continent, excluding Antarctica. This means Windsor didn’t make the list.

Kurlyandchik’s report and National Geographic’s nod should give the BIAs something to chew on. Hopefully it won’t be shoe leather veal.

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About the Author

Robert Tuomi
After initially succeeding as a broadcast journalist and achieving senior level assignments, Robert branched out into marketing communications. As a senior executive, primarily in the high-tech industry, Robert created award-winning and comprehensive, multi-faceted initiatives to enhance sales and expand market awareness for some of the largest companies in their fields. Email Robert Tuomi