When visitors arrive in destinations like Nashville, Las Vegas, or Boston, they know exactly what to expect. Whether it’s the music, the nightlife, or the culture, these epicenters of travel and tourism always deliver.
Wander has effectively become visitors' go-to resource for where to eat, drink, shop, and play.- Kate Strickland, Founder
Jacksonville, however, is slightly different. With business travelers representing nearly half of the total hotel rooms sold each year, many people arrive with no understanding of the area’s features or benefits. While some of this can be attributed to the smaller number of travelers the market sees on an annual basis, the lion’s share is due to the ongoing identity complex from which Jacksonville has long suffered. Is it urban, or is it coastal? Is it deep south, or is it the new north? Is it culture and arts and history, or is it beaches and boats and bridges?
In the fall of 2015, with 15 years of hospitality experience under my belt, I sought a way to not only answer these questions but to support the travel and tourism industries by clarifying what Jacksonville is and refining visitors’ options to ensure they have the best possible experience while they’re here. I wanted a way to communicate with them in a meaningful way, all without leaving the comfort of their hotel room. But how? The answer was not so simple.
First, a team of engineers had to develop the technology that would allow our exclusive, original video content to be delivered directly into the central television systems of hotels and resorts. Then, a talented crew of producers, writers, videographers, and on-camera personalities would have to create compelling, impactful video content that would entertain, inform, and inspire. It had to be where advertising form and function collide—the right medium, told to the right audience, in the right way. When Wander first went on the air in the spring of 2017, we knew we had accomplished something special. This little television channel was not only supporting the hotel and resorts’ concierge efforts and driving demand for locally owned businesses, but it was also wildly entertaining, and visitors couldn’t get enough.
Today, Wander airs in more than 50 hotels, resorts, and visitor centers throughout the region, and it is viewed by more than two million travelers every year… and counting. By telling captivating stories and featuring the dynamic personalities that call this region home, Wander has effectively become visitors’ go-to resource for where to eat, drink, shop, and play. We’re part content creators and we’re part demand drivers, but our business is that of storytelling.
Wander is poised to air in markets outside of Jacksonville and in industries beyond conventional tourism. However, Jacksonville is my home, and it’s an honor to tell its story to those who want to hear it the most.