If you visit a rest stop in southern Wisconsin later this year, you might be surprised to see a brochure touting the village of Brookfield and some of its local attractions. That’s because the village has joined the Visit Oak Park regional tourism bureau and has partnered to produce a marketing piece aimed at tourists.
Visit Oak Park is a state-certified visitors’ bureau that serves about 20 communities in the Chicago suburbs. It’s funded by state hotel/motel taxes which it uses to market communities and attractions like Brookfield Zoo, which is a member individually of Visit Oak Park.
Riverside has been a member of Visit Oak Park for several years and Riverside resident Aberdeen Marsh-Ozga sits on the Visit Oak Park board of directors.
Until 2017, Brookfield largely didn’t take advantage of Visit Oak Park but has now signed on as an enhanced member, spending $3,000 to join and obtaining full memberships for three local businesses — Mary’s Morning Mix-Up, Galloping Ghost videogame arcade and Irish Times — in the deal.
“It will allow Visit Oak Park to feature those attractions in Brookfield,” said Nick Greifer, economic and community development director for Brookfield. He added that the businesses were chosen because it was looking for ones that “appeal to the broader region and tourists.”
Greifer called Galloping Ghost and Irish Times “power draws” from a large geographic area while Mary’s Morning Mix-Up could become such a draw because of its proximity to Brookfield Zoo.
However, those won’t be the only businesses Visit Oak Park will feature, said Greifer. The visitors’ bureau sends out regular email blasts and uses social media. Local businesses will be featured in those communications.
The village’s 2017 budget put funds toward marketing efforts and there was some thought early on that Brookfield might use that money for outdoor advertising, on a smaller scale but similar to the “Why Berwyn?” campaign being done to draw city dwellers to that community.
Instead, Brookfield went with Visit Oak Park because officials believed it was more cost-effective and able to reach a larger audience.
“The reach they have is something we could never duplicate on our own,” said Greifer, who now sits on the Visit Oak Park board of directors.
Brookfield will have its own section inside a new visitor guide being developed by Visit Oak Park. The visitor guide is available at places like hotels, highway rest stops, airports and the Visit Oak Park Visitors Center, said Visit Oak Park Executive Director Sarah Barnett.
In addition, Visit Oak Park advertises in publications like AAA Living.
A key component of the marketing strategy for Brookfield will be the creation of a two-sided “rack card” that will highlight Brookfield attractions, restaurants and activities. Visit Oak Park will print 75,000 of the rack cards and distribute them throughout the region.
“Visit Oak Park will put this [rack card] and their brochure in dozens of areas in metropolitan Chicago and outside,” Greifer said.