What is the Future of Branson?

NOTE: This is an unaltered re-post from an article originally posted to the old www.brettfamily.com on September 23, 2013.

What is the Future of Branson?
By Brydon Brett
Branson, MO
September 23, 2013

When the legendary icon Andy Williams passed away last September, it marked a symbolic shift for Branson, MO – the changing of a guard. Since then, many questions have been forced to the top of public consciousness: What is the future of Branson? We have been known as the live country music capital of the world, then the live music capital of the world, now what will we be known for? I see polls, Facebook comments, TV news stories, newspaper articles and hear all kinds of conversation about this, but I’m not sure if the majority of people truly understand the magic of Branson. Now I don’t have a crystal ball (or else I’d have figured out a way to be married to Halle Berry by now), but I’d like to respond to some of these comments and conversations and share with you what my family and I see in Branson’s future.

Let me start with this, the magic of Branson—its key asset, its differentiating factor, its unique strength—is (drum roll please)…God, family and country-centered entertainment. Faith, family, friendship and the flag—these are the core values at the heart of the Branson community, especially the entertainment community. This is a very unique thing among tourist destinations, particularly music centers like Vegas, New York, LA, Nashville, etc. where such ideology has long since been snuffed out by commercialism and secularism. You might say, “Oh that sounds naïve and Pollyannaish.” I can understand that view. But, we really believe these core values are at the heart of what has driven Branson’s success in the past and what will drive it to even greater success in the future. The kicker is that we must combine these values with excellence and appeal. If we do that, then we can help take Branson into a new era of prosperity and growth. We feel that this is the foundation upon which everything else needs to build. With this as a general assumption about the future of Branson, let me share more of our vision for Branson in bullet point form:

  • We see Branson becoming one of the premier family destinations in the world. We can see Branson being mentioned in the same breath as Disneyland or Disneyworld.
  • We see higher quality shows, attractions and businesses. We know many people here in Branson who have vision and savvy who are continually striving for more excellence and this will pay off.
  • We see exposure opportunities headed our way. Similar to the 60 Minutes special that aired in December, 1991, we see more national and international mass media exposure happening for Branson, which will drive new audiences here. As a community, we need to get prepared for such exposure by building infrastructure and improving the quality of all our offerings.
  • We see Branson as the capital of good, clean, high quality family entertainment. This is a niche we can and should own. There is high demand for this in the market (more on that later).
  • We see Branson’s core industry (entertainment) flourishing and the other legs on the stool (retail, attractions, real estate, recreation, etc.) thriving along with it. We feel like it needs to happen in that order too. The other legs on the stool will not grow if entertainment is not nurtured and prioritized.
  • We DO NOT see Branson ever becoming a gambling town or another Las Vegas with adult or “mature” entertainment. Again, this would only make us more homogenous and like other destinations when differentiation is what is really needed. Plus, the consequences and corruption of bringing that kind of entertainment to a community are probably more serious than most people really understand. It would not be pretty for Branson.
  • We see more originality, creativity and genuine artistry emanating from Branson. We see Branson being respected by the music industry for our genuine musicality and contributions to the traditional record, publishing and touring industries.
  • We see the beautifying of the strip and a more modern aesthetic feel developing for Branson while still maintaining our friendly, hometown atmosphere. The city is focused now on beautifying the 76 strip and we are excited for the improvements being made across the city in this direction.
  • We see the Internet and technology playing an even more crucial role in the growth and development of Branson.
  • We see multiple genres and varieties of entertainment continuing to develop in order to attract many different kinds of audiences—variety shows, completely original music shows, touring artists, country shows, genre or era shows, magic shows, pop/R&B shows, touring artists taking up residency again in Branson, musicals, comedy shows, etc. For years we’ve owned the country music capital title. Now, we feel it won’t be a genre-based positioning, but Branson can own an every genre and variety of entertainment offered in a clean, wholesome and high quality way kind of branding. This will attract fans of all these genres who are looking for positive alternatives to the often toxic waste they experience when they turn on the TV.
  • And much more...

The question we often get when we share this kind of Faith, Family and Flag vision for Branson is, “Is there a market? Will it sell?” Our answer is, “Yes, if it’s done excellently.” I talked to a pretty well-known producer personally out in L.A. who was interested in working with our family on a project and he said, “You have no idea how big the market is for what you’re doing. People are tired of having all the filth crammed down their throats.” We believe that and we’re banking on it. Cirque Du Soleil was just a circus and they went bankrupt two or three times before they repackaged the circus, made it appealing and excellent, and now they’re one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world. By repackaging and improving the quality of our Faith, Family and Flag core here in Branson, we believe we can experience similar success. AND it’s not about demographics. It’s about psychographics. Demographics describe age, gender and geography. Psychographics focus on how people think and feel. There are millions and millions of people of all ages, genders and locations in the world—from India to Indiana—who would value good, clean, high quality family entertainment and a destination that upholds those values. Add to this the fact that Branson has so much else to offer and is in the center of the country and we think we have a winning formula for success in the future.

Branson is reinventing the way it approaches a lot of things, but some things—like our values— don’t need to be reinvented. As long as we (and that means all of Branson’s citizens and fans) stay true to the core values that make Branson so unique among tourist destinations and combine these values with excellence and innovation, we will adapt and thrive. If we don’t, we will become like everyone else and we will shrivel and die or at least plateau. We are grateful for Branson’s incredible past and believe we have an even greater future ahead of us. We believe in Branson. More importantly, we believe in the values that Branson represents. The answers aren’t in becoming more like everybody else. The answers are in becoming more us than we thought we could be. Long live Branson and long live what she stands for.