In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly brought travel around the world to a standstill. In the previous months, the year appeared to be a record year for the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau (LRCVB) in terms of leisure visits and tax collection.
Instead, Little Rock’s advertising and promotional tax revenue declined 19.1% from 2019 to $ 12 million, an amount not seen since 2013.
“While the year was an incredibly challenging one, the LRCVB was able to turn and find new ways to keep growth going. Although the LRCVB-managed facilities – Statehouse Convention Center, Robinson Center, and River Market – recorded nearly 300 group cancellations and more than 50 postponements, sales efforts continued to secure 148 future group event deals, representing more than 66,000 hotel room nights and an estimated US $ 37 million. Dollar equals direct expenditure, ”reads a press release from the LRCVB.
In 2020, 149 events were held in facilities managed by LRCVB, a decrease of 73% compared to 2019.
At the beginning of the new decade, LRCVB introduced a new brand positioning for the leisure market and revised the slogan “Big on Little Rock” from the 1990s to read “If you are big on (target interest), you are big on Little Rock”. Said the publication.
Shortly after the pandemic broke out, the new branding was used to create the “Big on Safety Pledge,” and 200 local businesses signed up and agreed to follow CDC and Arkansas Department of Health guidelines to create a safe environment for employees and guests.
The year also saw a number of awards including the following.
• LRCVB video “We’re Ready for You” won the SMART Meetings Magazine competition.
• The LRCVB social media team received the Arkansas Tourism Henry Award for “Exceptional Use of Social Media” for GIF branded stickers.
• Little Rock has been named a Bronze Friendly City by the American League of Bicyclists.
• Lassis Inn was recognized as an “American Classic” by the James Beard Foundation.
• Scott McGehee or Little Rock was inducted into the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame for Owner of the Year, and the city’s International Greek Food Festival was inducted as a food-themed event.
• The Museum of Discovery was named # 6 of 10Best / USA Today’s Top 10 Children’s Museums.
• Little Rock has been added to the NPR’s “Small Towns Big Remote Work Drawings During Pandemic” list.