Tourism Recovery: Starting to Rebuild
Saturday, May 15, 2021
By Jennifer Lazarz, Tourism and Marketing Manager, City of Gallup
Tourism and hospitality were heavily impacted by the pandemic, but they are resilient industries. Gallup has a lot to offer within its community and there are some bright spots on the horizon for recovery and rebounding over the next few years.
Gallup/McKinley County’s hospitality industry suffered significantly with the closures. Now that we are in the Turquoise level, recovery has kicked-off. Our hotels are hiring again, and they desperately need a committed and reliable workforce. The hospitality industry has many opportunities for personal and professional development, and is one of the few industries remaining where individuals can get training and discover upward mobility without needing a college degree. There is a lot of opportunity in Gallup within the hospitality sector. Also, Gallup’s restaurant industry is rebuilding. Now that restaurants are open with greater capacity limits, there is a need for employees interested in food and beverage service.
From the government angle, the City’s Tourism and Marketing Department has multiple efforts in place to aide with local tourism related recovery. First, the City Council approved funding for a new tourism website. The new website will launch in the fall and will include new features that better represent businesses. These features include a new comprehensive restaurant directory that has a map pin to restaurants, lists their amenities and food types, gives a description of the property, shares of photo of a food or drink product from the restaurant, and links out to any websites or social media the restaurants may have.
The City Tourism department is also launching an updated direct reservation system for hotels, where guests can go to the website and look at hotel properties then get redirected to the hotel websites to directly book their stays. This feature is currently live in a beta version at https://galluprealtrue.com/where-to-play-stay/lodging. Additionally, we recently purchased a new domain that will perform better in Google searches (www.visitgallup.com) and is undergoing a brand refresh to update the logo, fonts, and colors of the brand to improve the versatility of the brand moving forward. The estimated roll out of the new site is in September of 2021.
The State of New Mexico Tourism Department has been an instrumental partner in the new site building process. They gave a grant toward the site’s development and they have provided photo and video shoots. The State Tourism department also provided updated Google photography and 360 shoots to help showcase the beauty of the Gallup area.
Two more tourism development initiatives are kicking off in the next year that aim to grow the tourism experience in Gallup. First, the City is going to do a pilot program this year of a Digital Concierge service, where kiosks will be installed in various areas of town that locals and tourists can interact with. These kiosks will feature restaurant and hotel listings, as well as event calendars, an opportunity for hospitality related businesses to run promotions, and will give users the opportunity to text themselves directions to their favorite sites. This Digital Concierge service will also come with an app and a widget that links to the new tourism website. All three services- the widget, app, and kiosks, will have optional walking tour build-outs for people to explore different areas of our community.
The second initiative to grow tourism in Gallup is kicking off the “Road to Route 66” Plan. 2026 is the centennial anniversary of the Mother Road, Route 66. Beginning this year and building through 2026, the City Tourism Department will be developing signage, art installations, and more in partnership with a variety of businesses and community development organizations (such as gallupARTS, the Business Improvement District, Gallup Mainstreet, and more) as well as strategic relationships with BNSF and the NMDOT to ensure that our stretch of Route 66 becomes an attraction and a unique reflection of our community. If you are interested in more information about the “Road to Route 66 Plan” and how to join in the fun please email the City of Gallup Tourism department at email@example.com. We’re going to be “working hard and having fun” as we build our community’s Route 66 assets over the next five years and celebrate in 2026.