Heritage Corridor Destinations Picks Up Two Excellence In Tourism Awards Including One In Collaboration With WJOL

 Heritage Corridor Destinations received two prestigious Excellence in Tourism awards at the 2024 Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism in Peoria, IL on Tuesday, March 19th. These awards recognize the organization’s dedication to promoting  travel throughout the six counties of the Heritage Corridor. 

* Best Branding Initiative – Budget A: Heritage Corridor’s refreshed brand identity,  including a new logo, name, and visual style, earned top honors in the large budget  category. 

* Best PR Campaign – Budget A: The “Great American Road Trip,” a collaborative effort with WJOL, secured the award for Best PR Campaign. The campaign featured  10 live radio shows following morning host Scott Slocum’s journey along the Mother  Road, highlighting attractions in The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 along with his travels.

“We’re incredibly proud to be recognized by the Illinois Governor’s Conference for our  branding and PR efforts,” said Bob Navarro, President and CEO of Heritage Corridor  Destinations. “These awards are a testament to the hard work and creativity of our team,  and we’re proud our efforts to increase the economic impact of tourism in our communities were recognized tonight.” 

Ottawa Visitors Center staff and board members accept award on stage with Deputy Director Thomas
L-R: Rich Crum, Donna Reynolds, Daniel Thomas, Scott Struchen

In 2023, the organization debuted a new name, shifting away from Heritage Corridor  Convention and Visitors Bureau and into a modern, consumer-facing brand. The new logo  features a silhouette of the state of Illinois, with icons of the organization’s three brand  pillars depicted inside of it – The First Hundred Miles of Route 66, Starved Rock Country,  and the I&M Canal Towns. Heritage Corridor showcased the new look at three “New Year,  New Brand” events held at Clarks Run Creek in Utica, Barrel & Vine restaurant in Lemont,  and the Joliet Area Historical Museum. 

The Great American Road Trip celebrated The First Hundred Miles of Route 66 with a  marathon of live radio remote broadcasts across the country by WJOL morning host Scott  Slocum. Slocum and Heritage Corridor Destinations worked together to plan the route,  collect interviews from luminaries along the way, and produce 10 live morning shows on  1340AM WJOL and streaming nationwide. The shows, interviews, and accompanying  articles and videos documented the incredible people and stories along the Route,  especially in the Heritage Corridor region, and inspired people to plan their Route 66 road  trips at TheFirstHundredMiles.com. 

The Ottawa Visitors Center, a long-time partner of the Heritage Corridor from LaSalle  County, also took home two awards on Tuesday night. October’s Smoketober Fest event won Outstanding Niche Targeting – Budget B, and the WGN Radio Your Hometown campaign won Best PR Campaign – Budget B.

The Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards are presented annually at the Illinois Governor’s  Conference on Travel and Tourism to honor the best tourism marketing and advertising  initiatives across the state. Industry professionals judge each submission. Budget A is for total annual operating budget of $750,000 or more. Budget B is for total annual  operating budget of under $750,000.