Innovative campaign employs popular bloggers to help visitors, residents discover local hidden gems

A unique tourism campaign by the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network (RTN) is hoping to give visitors to the region – as well as current residents -- an “insider’s look” at the many fun opportunities that abound if you’re Livin’ in the “Cin."

Using a carefully selected group of established bloggers, Livin’ in the “Cin” provides a guide to everything from bargain travel and family-friendly destinations, to tips on the best ways to see the area, dining spots and little-known events and attractions that not every visitor may find, but anyone can enjoy

The online, social-network initiative was spearheaded after RTN officials reviewed an economic impact study that showed that about half of visitors to the region in 2011 came to visit friends and family, according to Linda Antus, president and CEO of the RTN.

“We used this data to design the initiative and focus on local residents as proud advocates for the region when talking to their out of town friends and family," Antus said. “There’s no question that people rely on social media as well as friends and family to give and get information when looking for a place to visit or a way to spend their day."

In fact, Antus said:

  • 48 percent of U.S. travelers cite friends and family as a source for travel information
  • 23 percent cite social media as a source
  • 93 percent of travelers say online reviews and opinions influence their plans

Online influencers tell the story

Livin' in the "Cin" encourages locals to discover or become reacquainted with all there is to do in the region. 

“Targeting local residents is a new audience for us. Until now, the majority of our efforts have focused on outer markets including Louisville, Columbus, Indianapolis, etc.,” Antus explained.The group of Livin’ in the “Cin" bloggers represents a variety of categories including: Family-Friendly; Food and Drink; and, Arts and Culture.

Antus described the bloggers as "trusted and respected in the social media world as credible sources and Cincinnati USA experts."

"And, of course, they live in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky”, she noted. “It was also important to us that they were regional. Because of our location on the Ohio River, the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region provides a unique offering to locals and visitors with a variety of uniquely different experiences in both Ohio and Kentucky."

The bloggers are:

“Social media is a great way to engage people and build a community of passionate advocates, and our contributors have done an excellent job of creating unique, entertaining and shareable content," Antus said. "Visitors appreciate and trust personalized information and first-hand experiences, and we’re excited to provide that through this program.

Just getting started

Designed as a multi-year program, the first phase of Livin’ in the “Cin” began in June with a focus on the hidden gems the region has to offer.

RTN officials plan to broaden the scope of the initiative in 2014 by including more online influencers and by collaborating with other local organizations in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Antus said. “Our region has so much to offer to locals and visitors. This is a very dynamic program and the more local conversation we see, the better.”

Shannan Boyer, founder of Covington’s Scooter Media and creator of the Family Friendly Cincinnati blog, said participating in the Livin in the ‘Cin’ initiative was a no-brainer.

"Helping parents discover all the reasons why this region is such a great place to raise a family is actually the mission statement of my blog,” Boyer said. “ I grew up in a really small town, so I didn't have the type of options you have living here. Even having lived here for 20-plus years now, I am still constantly discovering new places to go and new experiences to have with my family.”

Boyer added that, in the course of her involvement in the campaign, she, too, is learning more about the region’s offerings.

“Even as someone who writes about things to do, I was really surprised at how many new things I discovered,” she said. “From a post about lawn bowling and a post about all of the historical tours you can find, to even the post I wrote about food trucks -- where I discovered that we have more than 30 of them around town.

Next page: "Watch out, Portland!"%page_break%

Boyer said the response has been great.

“People are looking for new things to do, new places to visit. It can be really easy to fall into a rut, but you don't have to. There are so many great things you can do for fun here, and I think that is why this campaign is so great.”

"Watch out, Portland!"

Courtney Phenicie, editor-in-chief of and another member of the Livin’ in the “Cin” stable of experts, echoed Boyer’s statements about the initiative being mutually beneficial.

“I loved the idea of becoming a tourist in my own city,” she said, adding that the feedback she has received hasn’t just been limited to area residents. “We have heard from non-locals that have discovered through the initiative and decided to take a road trip here for a concert!

“I have heard from a number of locals that had no idea that Neon’s served food or that The Southgate House Revival was a venue with such diversity, for example,” Phenicie said. “I believe that everyone gets into a daily rut at times and it just takes a few people talking about a great new place or experience to shake them out of it.”

Like Boyer, Phenicie said her involvement in Livin’ in the “Cin” has given her a new appreciation for the city she calls home.

“I have learned that people are really excited to visit new places and have different experiences,” she said. “It’s encouraging to me that people are just as excited as myself about Cincinnati. I really think Cincinnati is becoming a "thing." Watch out Portland!”

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