Building and communicating your quality of life proposition

Bethany Hartley, Chief Strategy Officer at South Bend – Elkhart Regional Alliance, told us that “when talent is looking to relocate, they’re looking first at place, then at position.”

What’s true for people looking to relocate, is of course also the same for someone who’s deciding on their next holiday destination, or for an organisation looking for a location that will help them attract talent. So how can we build attractive communities where people want to live, work, visit and invest? And what does it take to engage your community in creating a vibrant place?

Growing your quality of life proposition

New research from Ipsos showed that the top three factors that Americans and Canadians look at when choosing where to live are cost, crime and safety, and affordability / availability of housing –those are the basic building blocks to providing a high quality of life, but there’s so much more that cities and regions can do to ensure they’re creating the most attractive proposition. “Individuals are seeking communities that provide opportunities for civic engagement, exceptional environmental amenities, walkable communities within close proximity, diverse people, stories, and culture,” Kevin Schreiber, President & CEO at York County Economic Alliance, explained. “Communities that embrace the variety of vibrancy are those that will continue to attract, retain, elevate, and celebrate talented individuals.”

After two years of lockdown and isolating at home, it’s become increasingly clear that space is an important element within our places. Indeed, in our increasingly hybrid working world, creating spaces for people to connect is more crucial than ever to providing the experiences necessary to deliver a high quality of life. For Carl Viel, President & CEO, at Quebec International, some of this is found in connecting our workplaces to a broader quality of place:  “Work opportunities should also be linked with new life experiences: better quality of life, family friendly cities, welcoming environment for new arrivals… Promoting a destination and not just a company or a position can be helpful.”

Clare LePan, VP of Marketing and Communications at Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, told us that in her view, the office is becoming the counterpoint to home environments – “becoming the creative space for group interactions, providing the social connections that are missing at home.” If office spaces are rapidly becoming more important in creating opportunities for inter-personal connections, then the same is undeniably true of our public spaces. Leah Chandler, CMO at Discover Puerto Rico, concurred with the need for “a higher emphasis on work-life balance,” and Bethany Hartley of South Bend – Elkhart Regional Alliance highlighted that “as a part of our regional economic development plan, we are encouraging increasing the accessibility and volume of public amenities and utilities, including trails, parks, housing, cultural amenities, and internet connectivity.”

Take the time to audit your place to understand where you can add value with programming or place activations. By improving the spaces between your buildings, as well as promoting easily accessible amenities, you are able to drastically improve the attractiveness of your place and create a better experience for your community.

Engaging your community to help them tell their own story

However, a truly vibrant community can only grow with engagement and interaction from your residents – both in the creation and development of a place, and in the storytelling around that area.  

“The pandemic has given us a unique opportunity to re-examine our relationship with our local residents,” explained Cody Chomiak, VP of Marketing at Travel Manitoba. “We have built up strong audiences of ambassadors and residents who now are more aware of who we are as a destination and as an organisation. Our residents continue to be an integral part of our marketing and communications mix, even as we start to welcome more travellers from around the world.” Joseph Marinelli, CEO of Visit Savannah, also stressed the importance of keeping their community informed about what is happening and, “most importantly, why it is important, as it relates to the impact of our industry and to the local economy.”

So what’s the secret to successful community engagement as you co-create a more attractive destination for all?

“The single biggest tip I could provide is to shift your strategy to include community shared values,” mused Travel Manitoba’s Cody Chomiak, while Kristen Jarnagin Reynolds, President & CEO of Discover Long Island, advocates for an approach rooted in authenticity. “Be authentic and speak as a local, not to the locals,” Kristen explained. “Also find out where your locals are consuming their content and just be there. It takes work and time, but it’s the most effective in becoming a local voice.”

Whether you’re looking to attract residents, visitors, or skilled workers, an attractive place proposition communicated honestly and creatively is key to showcasing the quality of life that people within your place enjoy and lay the foundation for future success.

The Place Brand Portfolio is City Nation Place's searchable portfolio of Awards case studies from the past five years.