Success in the Experience Economy

I know you all have heard me talk about Downtown Kenosha being a destination to dine, to shop, and to be entertained. The words experience economy has been talked about for quite some time too. But let me tell you about a true success story for our experience economy in Downtown Kenosha.

I recently sat down to have coffee at the Stella Cafe with Kim Frank from Coyle Financial Counsel out of Glenview, Illinois. We had connected to discuss plans about something exciting she wanted to do Downtown. She was planning her company’s annual business retreat. Looking for an opportunity to really connect with her department and allow for relaxed team building focus, Coyle Financial Counsel would usually stay at the Grand Geneva. Her group would spend their time shopping, dining, and learning there within the resort. But after several years of this program with team enthusiasm dwindling, this year she set her sights on a new destination for her group: Downtown Kenosha. Following up with her after the event, all we could talk about was next year’s plans.

After the opening of the Stella Hotel and Ballroom, Kim knew she had to get her Chicago-based employees out to experience everything Kenosha had to offer. And this wasn’t just any retreat; she designed a strategic scavenger hunt for day two to really draw out the competitive side of her groups. Every last detail was well thought out and planned to reflect the growth happening in our community. Their Thursday through Saturday retreat took months of preparation, thoughtful consideration of all local spending, and many hours of our business’s participation.

They kicked off their stay on a Thursday night at The Crow’s Nest for drinks and appetizers then set sail on the Red Witch for a tour around our beautiful lakefront; finishing off the evening with a delicious dinner at Table and Mash. The next day’s activities had them truly experiencing our local business culture: swag bags with shirts all made from The Lettering Machine, snacks from Sandy’s Popper, and spending downtown dollars were given to each team for purchases at downtown destinations. They were sent to Elsie Mae’s to make their own pies, toured Iron Depot Winery – where they were given a bottle of wine of their choosing.  They then decorated cupcakes at Robin’s Nest, dined at Kaisers and were encouraged to visit certain hot spots for points. Singing “Let It Go” in front of Rhode Theater and taking pictures at the harbor’s torpedo may have been a few favorites.

The event closed with a private dinner at Twisted Cuisine where the staff and owners declared their winners. The winning team in turn won a package of gift certificates to shops such as Authentique and Lulu Birds. Finishing off their weekend many visited the HarborMarket and stayed in town for breakfast at staples like Frank’s Diner and Coffee Pot.

The truth about this type of experience economy happening downtown is that this type of expenditure has long lasting results. Kim is not only planning for another retreat where their dollars directly impact our storefronts and redevelopment, but this retreat has introduced a new stream of visitors thrilled with the hospitality and uniqueness our business district offers, while rewarding their truly invested employees. Coyle Financial Counsel found team morale greatly increased after this retreat and is happy to continue reinvesting in the company’s goal to be a family dynamic workplace. As we continue catering to these experiences, we should be proud to see how much of an impact we have on both our downtown and our business neighbors!

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