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Meet the new woman in charge of luring visitors to Wichita

For this month’s In The Mix, Brandy Evans created award-winning tourism projects in Shreveport, Louisiana, for two decades.

Now, she’ll try to do the same thing here as the new vice president of marketing for Visit Wichita.

Visit Wichita has a new leader for its marketing team. Brandy Evans is a Los Angeles native but for the last 20 years, she's created award-winning tourism projects in Shreveport, Louisiana. Now, she'll try her hand at promoting "All Things Wichita" to incoming visitors as well as locals.

Interview Highlights

Brandy, you have worked in tourism for 20 years even won awards for your work. What have you found to be the most effective in marketing a city?

I think telling that city's story, I think finding out who the people are and connecting visitors to their stories. And one of the things I love about a campaign that I found in place when I got to Visit Wichita was they've been doing this campaign called Places, Faces, Hearts, and they've created all this amazing video content about local businesses. So, the Artichoke, Monica's Bunt Cake, Tanganyika, all of these really local treasures. They go and they talk to the people and really kind of tug at your hearts, if you ever watch any of the videos.

What do visitors say they want most when visiting a city?

Right now, visitors want to feel safe. They want to be comfortable. They want experiences. I think after 2020, we all realize how important our families, our friends are. And not only do we want to travel to a place, but we also want to experience that place. So, if there are some behind-the-scenes kinds of experiences, if there are some hands-on things that you can do, people really want to immerse themselves and they want to be able to walk away with that really great Instagram photo, you know, or that Facebook post and really kind of entice their other family and friends with the experience that they've had.

You came from Cajun country, Shreveport, LA. What is it that you learned that you are about to incorporate in Wichita?

One of the things that I did there that I'm incorporating here, is getting the attractions together. So we've had our first attractions meeting and we're working on some cooperative things together so that we can market each other. I always think of a convention and visitor's bureau role as sort of being ... we're fishermen, right? Our job is to go and cast as wide a net as possible to bring them into the destination, but then we need the attractions and the hotels and the restaurants and our partners to hook them. And so that's why we want to partner more with our partners because we're going to bring the masses in and then we want them to hook them and push them out to all their individual attractions, restaurants, and things to see and do.

How is Visit Wichita being inclusive and marketing to diverse audiences?

So that too is something that I've been so pleasantly surprised by this organization. Everything they do, they're thinking about, how do we make it feel inclusive? So, we're already working on our visitor guide for next year and we're talking about finding people in the community -- making sure that we have black people, white people, Asian people, Hispanic people, people with disabilities, people of all different groups represented. We want them to tell the story of Wichita. We want them to tell us about their favorite places to eat and their favorite places to take their family and their friends. Because we think that the visitors are going to absolutely love hearing from people. It will help diverse audiences connect with the people in our city and know that there is a place for them here in Wichita.

Brandy, how long have you been here in Wichita?

So, I've been here seven weeks now. So going on two months and it's really fun because I almost feel like a visitor still. And so, I've been making it a point to get out and to go and to explore and to find different things because I can't adequately market and promote Wichita unless I have experienced it for myself. And I've discovered some really great places. I love Botanica. I love Jenny Dawn Cellars. I went to Alzavino Wine Tavern. I guess you're kind of seeing a pattern here of wine and outdoor experiences, but this community…I don't think people realize the amount of tourism assets that it has.

There are concert venues. There are sporting venues, comedy clubs and mystery dinner theaters and we're doing a video about, this bar/arcade, Headshots Bar & Grill. I think that's the coolest thing. I've been sending this video to my family and friends, and I sent it to my daughter, and I said, as soon as you come here, we're going to go check this place out. There are speakeasies and all kinds of neat things. So, I can't wait to discover all of it.

What can locals learn that they might not have known before?

In every community, it seems like the locals are sometimes, always the last to know and so I cannot push our website enough. I'm from Los Angeles. I've lived in Louisiana, I'm now here in Wichita. And it seems like the locals are the last to know about all the good community treasures. There are all kinds of neat assets and visitwichita.com is a resource to find those.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.