Interview with Mitch Whitten, Executive Vice President for Marketing & Strategy of Visit Fort Worth

Andy Roe Andy Roe International Strategic Development Director, Payments, FIS

We caught up with Mitch Whitten, Executive Vice President for Marketing & Strategy of Visit Fort Worth, to explore how Fort Worth developed and implemented an event-based marketing strategy to promote their place brand.

CNP: If you could summarise the skills that every executive involved in place branding needs to acquire in just three words, which words would you choose? 
MW:  Vision and inclusion.

CNP: Why would you say that it’s important to keep up with how other cities, regions and nations are approaching the branding and marketing strategy for their place?
MW:  We learn so much from each other and we need to be original. We draw strength and encouragement from our colleagues around the nation and world.

CNP: Why do you think it’s important that those involved in tourism promotion, economic development, investment promotion and talent attraction work more collaboratively? 
MW:  Between attracting visitors and luring corporations, there is the hard work of building a destination that values business and creativity. The stakes in economic development are high. This is not just because of competition. The price of inaction is falling behind.

CNP: When you are benchmarking your own city, nation or region’s brand performance, which metrics do you use? 
MW:  We use a blend of qualitative and quantitative. For tourism, hotel bookings are a starting point, with increasing emphasis on visitor spending and length of stay. We also conduct annual surveys about attitudes about Fort Worth from key markets. We want to know that people see Fort Worth as a vibrant city on the move.

CNP: What would you say is the key to good story-telling to promote the assets and attractions of your city, region or nation?
MW:  Everyone says marketing should be authentic, and it’s true. We need to be the best version of ourselves possible. Just as important, story-telling should be fun or evoke other emotions. More than ever, marketing must help our customers resist boredom.

CNP: Looking back over the past 12-18 months, could you sum up one key achievement of your organisation of which you are most proud? 
MW:  Our Fort Worth Now event at SXSW in Austin showcased our city in a bold new way, gave the private sector and creative community an opportunity to work side by side and instilled a new sense of pride back home.

CNP: Thinking of the place where you live and work, what three words would you say summed up its brand essence? 
MW: Friendly and unexpected.

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