Milwaukee will be ‘concierge’ for PGA Championship

It’s summer and in the month of August, the Milwaukee area becomes a nirvana for golfing enthusiasts from throughout the country. The newly named U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee (formally the Greater Milwaukee Open) played at the Brown Deer Park Golf Course last month to enthusiastic crowds and gave the community positive exposure through television coverage on the USA cable network and CBS.
That event served as the perfect prelude to this month’s PGA Championship, running Aug. 12-15 at Whistling Straits in Kohler. The final four rounds of the PGA (a total of 28 hours) will be telecast to a worldwide audience on the TNT cable network and CBS, with establishing shots and related feature stories on the area as part of the broadcast.
While played up north in Kohler, Milwaukee will serve as the gateway city for the event. Downtown hotels will house approximately 1,000 members of the media, as well as the largest contingent of corporate guests. This event will give us an opportunity to shine in front of executives and guests representing such worldwide companies as Kraft Foods, Pepsi-Cola Company, Sylvania, Motorola, SBC Communications, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and Lehman Brothers, to name just a few.
In addition to viewing world-class golf, we expect these visitors to pump about $8 million into the local economy by patronizing our members – mostly locally-owned small businesses such as car rental services, hotels, restaurants, taverns and local arts and cultural attractions.
The city will also play host to the Golf Course Builders Association of America, who will bring 225 guests and spend an additional $360,000 at local businesses during the tournament.
Our staff at the GMCVB will be busy greeting visitors at the airport and area hotels. We also will provide and coordinate in-house public relations representatives, in addition to seeking the assistance of neighborhood/business associations to act as "goodwill ambassadors" for media and other guests boarding shuttle buses for the commute up to Kohler.
Since these bus riders are a "captive" audience, this service will include on-site representatives to provide information, answer questions and sell the city! Representatives will greet the media and briefly promote the area at the beginning of each shuttle departure Aug. 9-15. Samples of some locally produced products will also be given away.
Due to the distance between Milwaukee and Whistling Straits, this is the first time in PGA Championship history that the media host city has been presented with this unique opportunity. This "concierge" service will be setting a precedent for future cities!
While we’re establishing a growing nationwide reputation as a golfing mecca, a successful PGA Championship could lead to hosting other high-profile tournaments. Whistling Straits will host the Senior Open in 2007, and don’t be surprised if we land the U.S. Open sometime in the not-too-distant future. You read that here first!
Positive national television exposure can do wonders when it comes to selling our city. We work with national media outlets on a regular basis to promote Milwaukee. Crews from both the Weather Channel and The Travel Channel were in town the past couple of weeks to tape program segments that will showcase the city. Popular attractions, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, The Pettit National Ice Center, The Milwaukee Hilton City Center, Miller Park, the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, Milwaukee Harley-Davidson and the businesses on Old World Third Street, were all featured.
The GMCVB has partnered with the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and the Greater Milwaukee Committee to launch a "Bring It Home" campaign. The purpose of this program is to encourage our local companies large and small to consider Milwaukee as a destination for future meetings and conventions.
The Northwestern Mutual Financial Network annual meeting is an annual mainstay, bringing in about 9,000 representatives and family members, and is perhaps the best example of a company’s commitment to its "hometown."
This month, Racine-based S.C. Johnson & Sons, Inc., will bring 450 people to Milwaukee for its annual sales meeting. These types of events afford us the opportunity to showcase the city as an exciting meeting and leisure destination to the meeting goers and family members who might come along.
As the city’s destination marketing organization, the GMCVB is on call for any local business interested in holding a meeting or convention in town. We can support your plans by securing hotel accommodations, meeting space and attendance building. Our army of some 300 local volunteers can also be enlisted to make sure the event goes off without a hitch. Please contact us at for more information. We’re here to sell the city and we welcome the help and support of business throughout the area to join in this effort.
The National Indian Council of Aging will bring 1,800 delegates and guests to the Midwest Airlines Center from Aug. 28-31, and spend an estimated $1.6 million during their visit.
Doug Neilson, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Milwaukee Convention & Visitors Bureau, writes an exclusive monthly column on tourism for Small Business Times.
August 6, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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