Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, Springfield, IL

The Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB) is the official destination marketing organization for Springfield, IL, the state’s capital and long-time residence of Abraham Lincoln. Tourism is a big part of this history-rich city and contributes nearly $400 million to the area’s economy each year.

When the SCVB decided to move its Visitor Center to a new location across the street from the Old State Capitol, the tourism manager knew he needed to make the center captivating for the increased foot-traffic he expected, while conveying all the sites, destinations and events the area has to offer.

“We wanted to build a visitor center that provided a visual experience of the area that would motivate tourists to extend their stay in Springfield,” said Jeff Berg, tourism manager for the SCVB.

The new location features large color wall displays highlighting tourist attractions, along with comfortable seating, brochures and travel experts to provide guidance. In the center of one wall is a large full-color digital message center from Watchfire Signs. The SCVB uses this sign to display tourism videos, as well as advertise events, historical sites, architecture, arts, area winery/brewery trails, entertainment and Route 66 destinations. The content is updated regularly to remain current.

The sign was specified by Ace Sign Co. of Springfield. “Ace brought a sample sign out, and showed me that we could easily display video, photos and messages,” said Berg. “We were considering a large LCD, but when I saw how beautiful the images looked on the Watchfire sign, watched how easy programming was, and understood that we could divide the sign up into content zones, I knew that this is the sign I wanted.”

The new Visitor Center is on track to serve 15,000-20,000 visitors in 2019, its first year in the new location, a 700 percent increase from previous years. Visitors have reacted positively to the new sign and the content that the SVBC programs on it. “We find that visitors really enjoy sitting down and watching the sign loop through the photos, videos and messages that we’ve programmed on the sign,” said Berg. “The digital sign really brings the Springfield story to life.”

Berg has plans to optimize every capability of the sign in the future, including posting social media comments and live streaming via Facebook Live from area events.

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