With Brent working for himself now, he and I have been trying to take one day a month to go see a movie, do a project around the house — just something together. A few months ago, we had an open Thursday and Brent said, “I’ve got an idea for us. We are going to Visit KC office and are participating in the Visit KC VIP (visitor influencer program) Program.
My initial reaction: Oh groan! I don’t want to give up my day for that. And what? Do I get a badge to wear and get to tell everyone that … I AM A VIP, darn it.
Anyway, Brent made me go … and I really enjoyed myself.
One thing I love about Brent is he pushes me outside my comfort zone to try new things. And I don’t tell him, but 97% of the time he is right, and I end up liking whatever it is he has planned for us.
He: Becca’s done a MUCH better job of holding up her end of the bargain.
The Start of Our Visit KC VIP Experience
So … back to our day at Visit KC. We met at the Visit KC offices in the Power & Light at 9:30 a.m. There was a group of about 25 in attendance. The cost is $30-35 per person. Anyone is welcome to participate.
He: The other “everybody’s welcome” portion of the program is that Visit KC promotes the region, not just downtown KCMO. It doesn’t matter whether the good fun is on the Kansas or Missouri side of state line.
We began the morning with introductions. There was a group from the downtown Marriott hotel. I think it’s smart to have their staff attend the program because they feel more comfortable talking to their guests about Kansas City and the myriad of things to do. Another group was an owner of a chauffeur company and two of his drivers. Then an event management company. Our table mate works for KC Parks & Rec. And there was a woman in attendance who just loves KC.
Of course, there was also this cute local couple that has a blog (wink).
The day’s program was facilitated by Ashley Patton, the Community Engagement Manager at Visit KC.
Why The Visit KC VIP Program Is So Important to Kansas City
After introductions, Ashley went right into why visitors are so important to our city. In 2016, our city had a total of 25.2 million visitors. The total economic impact generated from these visitors was $5.5 billion.
I had no idea that we had so many people visiting our lovely city. To keep people coming, showcasing our city and its brand is very important. Ashley showed us a video the city uses to impress upon potential visitors all there is to do in KC. The video was crammed full of BBQ joints, jazz venues, sports arenas, and fountains. All the things that we know and love about our city.
As part of this campaign, do you know what our slogan is for KC? It’s …That’s “How We Do KC” or …. #HowWeDoKC.
When asked if anyone knew it, Brent answered correctly and was rewarded with a prize picked from a gift bag. He picked a KC scarf for me, which was sweet.
Visit KC VIP Program Gamifies Our Kansas City Knowledge
After our Kansas City education, we moved on to a trivia game to test our knowledge. We played the game by logging into an app on our phones.
The responses were timed and our results were posted after each question on a smart board at the front of the room. Our table rocked at this game. To close things out, our table mate was first and we ended up coming in second (we botched the final question).
He: We couldn’t handle the pressure!
It helped that I glanced at the fun facts sheet they included in our packet during introductions.
One of the questions was … Which of the following are not nicknames for KC?
- The Paris of the Plains
- Heart of America
- City of Fountains
- or KC
Actually, this was a trick question because they have all been nicknames for our city. The only term I wasn’t familiar with was Paris of the Plains. Paris of the Plains came about during Prohibition and the Tom Pendergast era because of our multitude of the jazz clubs, brothels, and gambling clubs.
Our Kansas City Game Insights
Other cool things we learned about were the inventions and innovations created in Kansas City. Brent knew the McDonald’s Happy Meal was the brainchild of a Kansas City advertising company from his time at KU, but we also discovered that the candy coating for M&M’s (Stowers Institute), the Bomb Pop, bumperstickers, and the Rival crockpot all originated in our fair city.
I found all of this fascinating.
As I mentioned previously, our table friend from Kansas City, Missouri, Parks and Recreation came in first and was able to pick a prize from the gift bag.
She remembered that I earlier mentioned how our pug wears bow ties and she picked a KC bow tie for Phog. I gave her the previously won scarf for the bow tie, and we were both happy with our trade. That was very sweet of her to think of our old guy.
What Would You Recommend To Do in Kansas City?
Next on the agenda was discussing all the things there are to do in KC. Some volunteers came to the front of the room and were given different scenarios to role play.
For instance, one woman pretended to be a busy executive from New York who just needed to grab something quick to eat. The other volunteer then gave our NY friend some suggestions on where to eat and offered ideas on entertainment if she had some extra time.
After the role-play example, the Visit KC team provided each table a different scenario and we were to plan a two-day itinerary for our fictitious visitors both inside the downtown corridor (think as far north as the Rivermarket and south as Loose Park, then as far east as 18th & Vine and just west of stateline) and outside the corridor (a lot of real estate … airport to south Overland Park and then as far east as Lake Jacomo and then west to the Legends).
Our Visit KC scenario was an adventurous, active couple who loves the outdoors.
Here’s Our Kansas City Adventure Itinerary:
Inside the Corridor:
- Stay at the 816 Hotel, which has KC-themed hotel rooms
- Some coffee at Oddly Correct or Pirate’s Bone (they may like the vegetarian options later)
- Then some repelling the bluffs at Kessler Park
- Some breakfast at Beer Kitchen or Char Bar
- Pick up a bike from Bike Share KC bikes to explore the city
- Dinner and a beer at Green Room Burgers or Port Fonda
Outside the Corridor:
- Coffee and breakfast at one of the stops we didn’t hit in Day 1, though there are great stops outside of the corridor, as well
- Head to a park for some outdoor fun — either Go Ape! at Swope Park or Shawnee Mission Park for some paddle boarding
- Venture to either Q39 or Woodyard for some Kansas City BBQ
- Those arms still relaxed? Throw some axes at Blade & Timber in Leawood
- Then venture back toward downtown, stopping at either KC Bier Co. or Bier Station a bite and a beer
Each table then presented their ideas to the whole group. After reviewing everyone’s plans, we were ready for lunch. Visit KC had it catered by The Homesteader Cafe. We had a choice of a pulled pork sandwich, a chicken and grilled veggie bowl, or a salad. We were impressed. Lunch was delicious.
A Visit KC VIP Field Trip to Historic Union Station
After lunch, we hopped on to the street car and headed to Union Station for the “Art of the Brick” Lego exhibit by artist Nathan Sawaya. So, all told, the meeting, lunch, and our tour at Union Station were all included in our $30ish fee.
Unfortunately, the Art of the Brick exhibit has wrapped, but Union Station is now running a innovative dinosaur experience that should be fun for the whole family.
With Art of Brick, my favorite display was the miniature replica of the entire LEGO exhibit’s layout. It was a very fun display to see. Nathan Sawaya has a lot more patience then I will ever have. Just imagine gluing 89,000 legos together. No thank you.
He: Though our “field trip” was to Union Station, each month the VIP class hits a different KC stop.
Anyway, it was a wonderful day, and I am proud to be a KC VIP. Oh … and we really did receive a VIP badge — a pin to be exact.
A few days later, I showed it to our server at Milwaukee Delicatessen and was served a free beer. Okay so in all honesty, he brought me the wrong beer which he let me keep and then brought me my original order. But we joked that it was because of my VIP status.
He: Smart ass. Current VIPs ACTUALLY do receive sneak-peek access to KC attractions and destinations and discounts to local boutiques and experiences.
Our 2018-19 Visit KC VIP Commitment – Our Top 10 List (And More)
One of your commitments as part of the Visit KC VIP program is to visit or revisit ten area attractions over the next year. The following are places in Kansas City that we’re embarrassed to say we haven’t visited — or not seen in some time:
- WWI Museum (Earlier in the year, Brent visited the WWII in New Orleans and absolutely loved it)
- Go Ape, Swope Park or the Kansas City Zoo
- Berkley Riverfront Park
- Nelson Atkins Museum
- American Jazz Museum
- Porchfest or another community art outing, like Spray See Mo.
- Strawberry Hill
- Lewis & Clark Overlook
- James Beard Award Winning Restaurant Tour
- A Distillery Tour (Brent’s done the Visit KC Tap Tour twice and I’m a fan of brown liquor, so this is on the must list)
- Hi Dive Lounge (A recommendation from our new friend, Esther … AND because they have a beer machine)
- Woodyard BBQ
He: One of the unexpected parts is getting to know the people … since doing the program, we’ve kept in touch with our table mate for a blog post and run into Ashley and a few of her Visit KC mates during Tap Tour.
The Final Word on Visit KC VIP Program
I would definitely recommend this program to others. (And I promise not to complain when Brent signs us up for the next adventure. Well, that won’t happen, but I will keep it to a minimum.)
Check the Visit KC site for the next available class. Not only do you learn about Kansas City while having fun, you’ll meet more tremendously friendly people for whom our city is famous.