From Sponsorship to Partnership: Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network

Karen Forgus, Sr. Vice President of Operations for the Cincinnati Reds, joined Linda Antus, president & CEO, and Heather Kessler, director of marketing, both from the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network at a panel discussion titled: “From Sponsorship to Partnership.”

The Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network (RTN) and the Cincinnati Reds are both in the “Experience Business.” The RTN, a destination marketing organization has been partnering with the Reds for the past six years in an ever-increasing relationship that has enabled the region to grow to a 22 million-visitor, $4.1 billion dollar travel and tourism destination.

Beginning in 2007, the Reds and the RTN had a purely media sponsorship which has grown into a 12-month partnership with the Cincinnati Reds, including paid and leveraged earned media, event marketing, community outreach and travel website package booking at the RTN website,

The Common Ground is that the Reds and the RTN are both in the EXPERIENCE Business.

The Reds and RTN are partners during the 12-month destination marketing season and here’s how:

  • RedsFest : The annual Fan Fest held over two days in December that attracts 20,000+ fans. The RTN is the Main Stage Sponsor and promotes its website portal and hotel packages around the theme: “Come for the Reds, Stay for More Fun”
  • Reds Caravan: The annual caravan with players, broadcasters and front office leadership hits the road for four days to visit fans throughout Reds Country in four states with mall visits, radio promotions and community service efforts
  • REDS on RADIO Network reaches Reds Country through its 92 radio affiliates. The RTN is a sponsor of the REDS on RADIO Network and this multi-tier partnership resulted in 2015 minutes of interviews with credible, personalities on the affiliate stations, as well as key interviews with Marty Brennaman, Jeff “The Cowboy” Brantley and Chris Welch during in-season home stand games.
  • Fox Sports Ohio: FOX provides the regional TV coverage for the Reds throughout Reds Country. The RTN has leveraged its relationship with the FOX Sports Ohio Host Jim Day with “tour spots” and the live in-game interviews with Thom Brennaman and Chris Welsh.
  • Ticket Packages: The Reds see the RTN as their outer market agents of tourism and Reds outer market fan base-building. The growth of the Reds ticket/hotel packages is over 56% of the bookings on the RTN website, resulting in a new co-branded Grand Slam Getaway, peak season package for 2013.

Common Objectives to Explore with a Marketing Partner

  • Find shared objectives and common ground for attracting your target consumer
  • Build programs that grow on the relationship year-over year
  • Promote and advocate for the relationship in the community, and for the community
  • Add additional stakeholder with common objectives, over time, i.e. other family attractions such as the Newport Aquarium

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