CHARLOTTE, September 7, 2012 — After more than a year of preparation and anticipation, Charlotte woke up Friday morning wondering about its image and the success of the DNC.
All things considered, Charlotte, which is a contemporary medium-sized city that had never before organized or managed an event of such magnitude, did an excellent job handling the myriad of moment-by-moment changes and security concerns.
Unlike Tampa, Charlotte faced the added difficulty of dealing with an incumbent president and vice president, their families and an ex-president along with the usual host of other officials, dignitaries and celebrities that invaded the city.
But there were other concerns in a town that thrives on business.
Much of the anticipated boon for businesses throughout Charlotte never materialized. One factor was that a high percentage of delegates and visitors never ventured beyond the convention perimeter. Consequently, attractions and restaurants were significantly affected by lower than expected and promised activity.
According to Rob Nixon, owner of Jackalope Jack’s on East Seventh Street, “Our business was solid on Labor Day weekend with early season college football games. After that we dropped off by fifty percent for the rest of the week. I would have closed down but that would have cost my employees money, so it was pretty much a wash.”
Other businesses reported similar experiences even though bars and restaurants in blocks near Time Warner Cable Arena benefited from a steady stream of customers.
Charlotte’s image to the world was another unknown factor that may not be determined for several months. The city has long desired the elimination of having “NC” after its name. Everyone knows Paris, Rome, London, New York or San Francisco. It is not necessary to clarify them by their country or state.
Charlotte, however, is extremely image conscious, and there is something called the “CH factor” that it is constantly working to overcome. Several cities in the general region start with the letters “CH”; Charleston, South Carolina, Charleston, West Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. City officials believe the city’s identity often becomes confused with other “CH” destinations, which gives the ability to drop the “NC” added significance.
Though Charlotte received much negative attention by national media outlets early in the week, it was hoped that once visitors ventured beyond the convention area impressions would change.
Outside the city center Charlotte has an abundance of trees. It is one of the city’s biggest assets. From the air the uptown area looks like a metropolis nestled among a forest.
It is an extremely livable mid-sized city with a high standard of living that is accessible to two-thirds of the United States in two hours or less by plane.
Whether or not all of that was translated by the hundreds of media outlets, both print and broadcast, that invaded the Charlotte for the DNC has yet to be determined. Most of the focus was centered around Time Warner Cable Arena, as well it should have been, but if the bounce from a week of intense scrutiny is not realized, then questions will arise whether the overall effort was worth it.
Only time will tell. By Saturday, Charlotte will be back to its normal routines. It will be as though the DNC had never even been here. The fickle amoeba of media has moved on to other places.
The question now is whether those few days of basking in the glow of a global spotlight will bring the anticipated increase to Charlotte’s image that will eliminate the “CH” and the “NC.”
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.
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