The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
Last week I visited the state Tourist Information Center near the Truman Sports Complex and saw a couple of new publications. One was the new 2004 Missouri Vacation Planner, the one we used to call the travel guide. It has a nice picture of the Blind Boone statue submitted by a local photographer. The other was a new Warrensburg brochure put out by the Greater Warrensburg Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center (GWACC&VC). Since I've commented now and again about the lack of Warrensburg information at the tourism center, finding this brochure was a pleasant surprise. Then I read the brochure, and the surprise was no longer pleasant.
For starters, the brochure measures 4 inches by 11 inches. It's two inches taller than the standard brochure rack piece; it doesn't comply with the state's guidelines for display. That means they don't have to display it. That also makes it less likely that other tourism info locations will find it convenient to display. The paper weight is fairly light, so even if displayed, it will quickly flop over like a wet noodle.
The content is even more of a problem. The three major sections describe the history of Warrensburg, CMSU and Whiteman AFB. It tells what was, not what is. There is nothing in the brochure that describes anything that would be likely to attract tourists - nothing about attractions, events, shopping, lodging, dining. There's nothing to sell someone that Warrensburg is a good place to visit. There are no specifics whatsoever.
Added to this problem is the writing style. Brochures should be dynamic, telling the visitors what's in it for them. Sen. Vest's speech on the cover is virtually unreadable in contrast to the background picture. I even noted a grammatical error in apostrophe usage.
Now, you ask, why am I so exercised about this brochure? Because it's paid for with taxpayer money. Since it has the Missouri tourism logo, I'd assume that up to half of the money comes from the Division of Tourism's cooperative marketing budget; a waste of scarce tourism dollars that could have been used for real promotion. The rest undoubtedly came from lodging tax money spent by visitors to our community and turned over without adequate oversight to the GWACC&VC. The GWACC&VC gets around $60,000 a year from this tax; isn't it time to demand some real tourism promotion out of it?
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