The Destination First Impressions Process

A First Impressions Process completed with a fresh set of eyes will point out things in the community that need to be changed to be more welcoming.

The University of Wisconsin’s premier tourism program developed the “First Impressions” process in 1991 to help communities learn about existing strengths and weaknesses though the eyes of first-time visitors.  The results are intended to serve as the basis for community action to shore up various aspects to create a better impression. Each first impressions effort has a visitor coordinator and ideally, this person is one of the tourism team members. Or it can be completed by a tourism professional familiar with other destinations but not the one at hand.

The evaluator should be willing to spend at least 3-4 days visiting the community they evaluate, stay overnight, dine in restaurants, shop in local stores and boutiques, and visit attractions.  It will also be important to drive through the whole the community to get the same impression that visitors get when they arrive for the first time. Even if all the results of the First Impressions process are not good, its best to have them pointed out, so they can be dealt with to create a better impression for visitors.

Case Studies

Learn about how the First Impressions Process helped a community identify new opportunities.
Download the A County’s First Impressions Process White Paper.