This was an extraordinary set of circumstances. If somebody has an event that they feel needs some sponsorship, I would welcome anybody to talk to me about it.
It has never been that much money. But if there is an event that's significant -- and we really look for events that bring international exposure that are tied well with the brand of the state -- we will consider it. The Reno air races is intended to be a one-time shot for these folks. But if other people have other events, we're open to looking at urban events and how to sponsor them because I think they're in everybody's best interest.
Why was it the state's responsibility to save the Reno air races?
It's the last of its kind in the world: these kinds of races in these kinds of aircraft in this type of setting. It's important to retain that kind of legacy here in the state.
The thing I like about it is that it brings people here who are risk-takers and adventurers, so they're like Nevadans, even though some are coming from the U.K. They're embracing the Nevada spirit.
There are very few events that are statewide events that everybody's going to recognize. I'd like to do more events in the southern part of the state, but nobody has really come to me and said they want funding.
Do you think it's possible to have an event to tie everyone together for the 2014 sesquicentennial?
We're definitely looking at those kinds of legacy events that can help tie the state together for that year. Hopefully, there will be ongoing events that would continue to remind people of the unique heritage of this state.
The sesquicentennial steering committee has started to look at types of events and touring exhibits that are fun and interactive and really would engage people in different communities throughout the state. It has to be a statewide, collaborative effort. There will be lots of events that will happen during that time, but maybe one or two real signature events.
The Governor's Conference on Tourism has had a difficult history, having been canceled twice. Are you planning to keep it going?
We're definitely planning to keep it going. It's going to be Dec. 4 to Dec. 5.
What we're trying to do is to make it a significantly different event from Rural Roundup, which is a wonderful educational event for tourism industry members.
To make it retain some viability, we're going to bring back some elements of the past, including a sales and marketing event with a trade show to give members of the Nevada industry a chance to go one-on-one with tour operators, travel agents and the media. We're also going to do a pre-conference technology summit that helps people start to understand the emerging technology world. We're going to try to find some pockets and make this more of a business-building conference than an educational conference.
I don't know if we'll get there this year, but that's the idea because they're different markets. As far as I know, we're the only state in the nation that has two conferences -- the Governor's Conference and the Rural Roundup. But to retain the difference between them, I think, is an important thing. We're going to keep looking at how we can make sure there are reasons for people to go to both conferences.
I understand the Tourism Commission is developing a statewide tourism app. Tell me about that.
I haven't seen the finished product, but I've seen the idea. It really starts to answer some of our infrastructure issues in a 21st-century way.
The app will be designed to be downloaded in a place that has cellphone service. Obviously, we don't have statewide cellphone coverage, and that's always an issue. But once you have the app on your device, you can use it even if you don't have cell service.
So if you're driving along I-80 and you're at Exit 46, it would tell you what's in the area. The idea is that at some point, if you've landed at McCarran Airport, it will offer you coupons: "I see you're in Las Vegas, here's $20 off at X Hotel and $10 off at the restaurant."
It becomes a much more retail deal. It is meant to be both a wayfaring kind of piece, as well as something for business.
Will a traditional place like Nevada be able to adapt to 21st-century efforts?
Just having people willing to take a little bit of a risk with us is the key to success. We'll be going in some new directions, and I'll be trying some things out to see if they work.
This isn't your father's Oldsmobile. To be successful, we're going to have to do some things differently. We'll always have a strategic business reason for doing things, but we'll be asking people to go with us to see if they work.
The thing I like about Nevada is that we're a blank slate. Yes, Las Vegas has done it better than anybody, and Reno-Tahoe has some great things. We can do things that are really innovative and different than any other state because of the fact that we are a new brand because so many people don't know what is here.
We're going to be doing a whole new cooperative marketing program for the state in the digital space, as well as in more traditional advertising. But we're not doing new just to be new. We're thinking it through. The idea is to build business.
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