Destination Cleveland

thunder::tech helped the Cleveland Convention & Visitors Bureau elevate the “This Is Cleveland” branding and engage travelers across the region and beyond.


Destination Cleveland is the convention and visitors bureau for the city of Cleveland and surrounding communities. Their singular mission is to introduce the city’s many amenities and benefits to business and leisure travelers, enticing them to visit the city. They are also the primary advocate for the travel, tourism and hospitality industry in the region, supporting the 65,000+ small business jobs and $8+ billion of economic impact that travel and tourism generates.
The organization launched a new branding campaign called “This is Cleveland.” Bold, unapologetic and in-your-face, the campaign encouraged visitors to forget everything they thought they knew about Cleveland and come and experience the world class entertainment, events, cuisine and shopping for themselves.
As the organization prepared to roll out the campaign, they knew they needed their website to be as exciting as the message. Enter thunder::tech.
Getting lost in Cleveland
thunder::tech has worked with Destination Cleveland for nearly a decade, back when the organization was still called “Positively Cleveland.” When they started preparations to redesign their dated website they turned to us to integrate additional functionality and bring the new branding to life in the digital space.
Destination Cleveland has three main audience segments:
  • Business travelers
  • Leisure travelers
  • Meeting and event planners
The site also has a wealth of information for locals, but their primary focus is bringing travelers, meetings, conferences and events to the city. As such, the navigation has clear and concise tools to help people plan their stay, making it easy to find “things to do” things to “eat + drink” and “where to stay.” However, once visitors are channeled to these key sections, the user experience becomes a little… unconventional.
Traditionally, website navigation is designed to connect the visitor with specific information and funnel them to checkout as quickly as possible. Destination Cleveland’s website, on the other hand, is designed to pull visitors into the content of the site so they can effortlessly browse and explore, falling into a rabbit hole of engaging content and vibrant imagery—all focused on the wonderful experiences available only in Cleveland.
The combination of intuitive navigation and immersive content is satisfying for all kinds of visitors, from those who need to find a specific hotel near their venue to those who want to browse and discover at their leisure.
The face of Cleveland
Visually, the new site needed to reflect the “This is Cleveland” branding in look and feel. thunder::tech developed a design that supported the industrial, gritty feel of the brand by illustrating new background textures and leveraging cinematic photography that show the genuine nature of Cleveland and the people who live there.
The design utilized unique typography to draw visitors into different levels of the site. Unexpected hover states and animations also added to the fun and delight of clicking through the site.
Overall, the graphic design was simple and reserved, allowing the powerful and compelling photography to really tell the brand story.
Throughout the design process (both UX and visual) careful consideration was given to the mobile experience to ensure that visitors to the city got an authentic taste of Cleveland regardless of device or browser.
New functionality, same destination
One of the major drivers for the new Destination Cleveland website was a desire for greater content and layout management flexibility. thunder::tech developed a structure that was highly modular, allowing the organization to mix and match various content types and styles, essentially allowing the Destination Cleveland team to build new website templates on the fly to fit the content demand of the moment.
A number of third-party platforms were customized and integrated into the new site, including:
  • Salesforce (CRM)
  • Simpleview (destination marketing CRM)
  • Act-On (marketing automation)
  • CrowdRiff (social media marketing)
  • Google Maps (directions)
  • YouTube (video)
Google Maps played a critical role in the new site. The custom integration allowed Destination Cleveland to instantly format maps of businesses, venues, events, etc., which then automatically pulled in information such as neighborhood, nearby attractions and latitude/longitude. This ensured that the destination was displayed correctly and it was easy as possible for visitors to discover more things to do in the area. Prior to launch, thunder::tech seamlessly migrated more than 1,000 points of interest from the existing database to the new site.
The event calendar was extremely important as it let visitors know what was happening in and around town when they would be there. New functionality allowed users to submit their own events through the website, which were then reviewed and approved by Destination Cleveland staff before appearing on the calendar.
And on top of all of that, thunder::tech also enhanced the new site with a streamlined workflow and display for blog posts, articles and photo galleries to ensure that whatever visitors were interested in, the site would deliver!
Want to learn more? thunder::tech can help you with website design, strategy and more. Contact us today!
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