Virginia's capital city of Richmond is launching OutRVA, a new campaign designed to show people Richmond’s strong LGBT community and highlight the area as a travel destination for LGBT travelers. The campaign launched September 1 with advertisements in LGBT publications in the form of "coming out" letters from Richmond.
One of the ads specifically designed for the Washington, D.C. market says: “We’ve always been close. Like ‘109 miles on I-95’ close. There’s something I need to tell you, though. Something that I’ve known for a while that you might not have picked up on. I know you’ve been busy running the country and everything. So here it is. I’m gay. Love, Richmond.”
“For many LGBT people, coming out letters are the way they communicate their identity to friends and loved ones. We thought coming out letters would be a great way for us, as a destination, to share that Richmond is a welcoming place for LGBT travelers,” Katherine O’Donnell, vice president of community relations for Richmond Region Tourism, said in a statement. “The letters offer a personal and powerful way for the Richmond area to communicate this.”
The concept for OutRVA was developed by a group of students at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter, the country’s top-rated graduate program for advertising. Richmond Region Tourism partnered with the Brandcenter last fall to take their LGBT marketing efforts to the next level.
The ads will run on Facebook and in LGBT publications in Washington D.C., Georgia and Massachusetts from Sept. 1-Oct. 31.
To gather community support and boost awareness, the students distributed “Out” stickers to local restaurants and businesses. The stickers can be seen on storefronts, cars, food trucks and more.
The campaign includes RichmondisOut.com, a website where travelers can learn more about the area from “Richmond Insiders,” LGBT Richmonders who have shared what they love about the area. Richmond Insiders are available to contact through the website so visitors can connect directly with a local and ask for recommendations when planning a trip.
For travel planning, RichmondisOut.com connects visitors to VisitRichmondVa.com, which includes information for LGBT travelers. The section will connect them with LGBT-friendly businesses, TAG-certified accommodations, events and entertainment and other resources.
RichmondisOut.com also serves an outlet to celebrate Richmond’s LGBT community. Visitors are encouraged to share coming out stories on the site, and for possible inclusion in an exhibit that will launch in advance of the 2014 VA Pride Festival in Richmond on September 27.
Richmond as a LGBTQ Travel Destination
Richmond Region Tourism is one of 24 U.S. destination marketing organizations including those in major destinations such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Philadelphia certified as a GLCVB through Community Marketing Inc.
Richmond Region Tourism has run annual LGBTQ marketing campaigns to coincide with VA Pride Fest for the past five years. In 2009, Richmond Region Tourism formed a local LGBT Tourism Advisory Committee to consult on the ongoing effort.