A band of Richmond business boosters is getting back together for an encore at the annual South by Southwest Interactive Festival.
Area tourism and economic development groups are again banding together with local businesses and artists to represent the Richmond region at the four-day trade show in Austin, Texas.
A booth designed by students at the VCU Brandcenter will be manned by representatives of Richmond Region Tourism, the City of Richmond and the Greater Richmond Partnership (GRP), with financial support from sponsors such as Capital One and Altria.
Others involved in the effort include Whitlock, Virginia Biotechnology Research Park, Creative Dog Media, Sure Hand Signs, Iron Oak RVA, Keith Fabry, Shine Craft Vessel Co., Studio Two Three, and Creative Workplace Interiors & Technology. Local breweries Ardent and Hardywood will also be represented, and beer from Stone Brewing will be offered to booth visitors.
A launch party for participants was held last week at Ardent. Local artist Mickael Broth, who designed a mural that was featured on last year’s booth, was among those on hand and is again involved in this year’s effort.
Bethany Miller, vice president of business development with GRP, said the return trip to the festival is intended to capitalize and follow-up on contacts made and leads developed from last year’s appearance. Where the group focused more on receiving foot traffic last year, Miller said more research and preparation is being done beforehand to identify participants to reach out to and other proactive strategies.
Miller said last year’s trip identified three or four projects and more than 25 leads for GRP specifically – numbers she and peers with the City of Richmond and Richmond Region Tourism hope to add to this year.
“Last year was a great trial run for us,” she said. “I’m looking forward to going back because, while we had some great foot traffic at the booth, we’ve really gone out of our way to provide a number of touchpoints that will engage the trade show audience and educate them about the benefits of doing business in the Richmond region. We did that last year, but this is more of a pointed effort.”
This year’s booth will feature a spin-the-wheel game, a Jenga-style game and others aimed at educating players about Richmond’s culture and business climate. Along with travel costs and other expenses, Miller said the budget for the booth and trip totals $75,000, covered in part by financial and in-kind support from the participants.
“It’s certainly not something that (GRP) could do on our own,” she said. “It certainly depends on the wonderful mix of companies and the public-sector and higher-education support to make it possible for us to go.”
SXSW Interactive takes place March 12-15.