Frisco, Texas: Harnessing the Rising Tide of Economic Growth


Being a department of the city is not a position always looked upon favorably by destination organizations, but the future of the destination marketing industry is one that operates even closer in collaboration with government and other institutions. Frisco’s CVB is one example of a small but rising team that makes the most of every opportunity to builds tourism priorities directly in line with city managers, elected officials, department heads, and the local business community.

Contributing to Sustainable Economic Prosperity

As one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., Frisco, Texas positions itself as the Lone Star State’s Rising Star. Enjoying close geographic proximity to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, Frisco is taking its upswing in growth with a long-term vision contributed by residents, developers, the city, and of course – the convention and visitors bureau, Visit Frisco.

Tourism is considered a key factor towards the sustainable economic prosperity to the city, and that is a direct result of the relationships Visit Frisco maintains with not only entities directly related to the travel and tourism industry, but also the broader community of Frisco.

“I stongly believe that advocacy and stakeholder realtions is one of the key roles as a leader of a CVB,” said Marla Roe, CDME, CTA, Executive Director of Visit Frisco. “We have been fortunate to have established very strong relationships early on when our CVB was first established in 2003.”

Rallying the industry to understand the value of what the CVB does, and taking that message beyond the destination’s hotels, attractions, and sports teams was a priority from day one.  “Not only did we concentrate on the obvious [stakeholders], we also focused on our city management and elected officials and even department heads in the city,” explained Roe.

Becoming the City’s Expert Source

Visit Frisco plays a critical role to help elected officials understand the value of tourism, its positive impact on the community, and how it helps maintain sustainability in a community in terms of economic prosperity.

Providing key data through tourism studies is part of that role. City leaders require and use this data when trying to land new corporate relocations or exploring tourism-related development, looking to the CVB to actively gather and communicate data on the local travel and tourism industry.

Visit Frisco is actually a department of the City of Frisco and are funded solely by hotel occupancy tax collections. The organization has an advisory board consisting of tourism industry and at large members that are appointed by council, and the Executive Director reports directly to the Deputy City Manager.  When asked whether this organizational structure precludes Visit Frisco from engaging in advocacy activities, Roe responded, “Being a part of the city has not been a challenge for us and in fact, has brought a deeper understanding of what we do at all levels in city government.”

Gaining Traction after the Lean and Early Years

In the initial years after establishing the CVB, funding was a challenge as quite a bit of debt service had been obligated from the fund before the organization was formed.

Even though the organization was shortstaffed, it saw great opportunity in an existing, vibrant meetings and tourism business. “We developed an Education Committee made up of a couple of our Advisory Board meetings and conducted a series of one-on-one meetings with our elected officials and city leaders,” said Roe. “And since that time, we have been able to grow both our budget and staffing.”

Being able to grow the Visit Frisco sales team allowed the organization to demonstrate increased economic impact into the community as a direct result of CVB operations.  While room nights was the easiest and most direct manner of gauging success, Roe and her team tie their activity to economic impact, conducting  a Tourism Economic Impact study that provides invaluable third party validation to their efforts.

Making Economic Impact Tangible

Bringing the message of economic impact home in relatable terms is next on Visit Frisco’s advocacy agenda. The organization intends to accomplish this is two ways.

First, Visit Frisco began rolling out a Community Relations program particularly targeted at unique boutiques, locally owned restaurants, and similar companies to educate and engage them in appreciating their role in tourism in the city and more importantly, how to capitalize on the growth in tourism to the benefit of their business.  “We hope to develop some type of ‘Frisco Home Grown’ program where we can assist our small business owners in marketing and developing programming that will drive consumers to their businesses,” explained Roe.

Second, Visit Frisco is further engaging city leaders and the city’s economic development organization as part of their destination sales process. A result of new gaming corporations moving to Frisco and the forthcoming opening of the National Video Game Museum, Visit Frisco has targeted video gaming as an important emerging business sector for the city.

“Our Economic Development Corporation has identified gaming corporations as one of their strategic clusters, and our existing and new venues have the capacity to host these larger groups,” said Roe. “So, we will be partnering together at a large national gaming convention this next year to exhibit  to promote both gaming businesses relocating to Frisco and to meet with top gaming planners to talk about our venues and potential events in the city.”

This kind of collaboration only drives home the importance of travel and tourism as an underpinning and uniting current running through any destination. Visit Frisco, therefore, is able to not only work to propel the success of existing local businesses, but also ensure that the destination is poised for future, long-term growth in the right areas that stakeholders themselves have identified and prioritized. In fulfilling this role, the organization ultimately becomes essential to the functioning of the city itself.