In this episode, you will learn about programs that bring together counties, hotels, amusement parks, and more from Sarah Blackwell.
Sarah Blackwell joined BTI in 2013, bringing a fresh perspective, creativity and attention to detail to every client project she works on. A highly talented writer, she becomes the “voice” of many diverse clients for their stories and blogs — no easy trick. It takes tremendous imagination to write about winter attractions when it’s eighty degrees and summer outside. Or to write as the “voice” of a season. There’s also the constant need to come up with new angles and pitch stories for clients, and Sarah hits the mark each time. She also finds, researches and implements new media. All this to help get our clients great exposure and effectively connect with their target audiences.
There’s nothing like working with travel and tourism giants Southwest Airlines and Disney to put real-world, “icing on the cake” experience on top of an education in journalism and public relations. Sarah had — and continues to have — a passion for PR, writing and storytelling. And because she worked with the best in the business in media relations, she knows just how to cultivate relationships with journalists full of mutual respect and benefit.
Sarah sums it up: “Pitching story ideas is about knowing who you’re talking to — knowing your client’s audience and finding compelling subjects.”
A transcript of this episode is available here: destinationontheleft.com/sarah-blackwell-program-case-studies
In this episode, you will learn about how regions can collaborate together and pool resources to do things together that they could not do alone from Laury Poland.
As president of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association (FLWCTMA), Laury Poland is responsible for creation, coordination, administration and implementation of all FLWCTMA programs and initiatives to promote economic development in the Finger Lakes region of the state of New York. A native of Rockville, Maryland, Laury began her employment at the Corning, New York-based tourism marketing association on September 30, 2013.
Before coming to the Finger Lakes, Laury was responsible for all advertising and promotions initiatives of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s (PLCB) Bureau of Marketing Communications, Branding & Design. During this time, Laury developed a keen interest in the wine and spirits industry, completing significant coursework in wine education. In her professional role with the PLCB, Laury constructed full-scale traditional and new media campaigns, including website development, digital advertising, and a social media presence through Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, as part of a $6M annual advertising budget. Laury also determined new areas of media to include in marketing and public relations efforts based on trends and technology. Laury wrote, produced and edited video projects for the PLCB’s 608 retail stores, Fine Wine & Good Spirits, and oversaw all print, web, radio, television and digital material, ensuring consistency of corporate brand image and messaging.
Prior to her time at the PLCB, Laury represented New York-based Church Pension Group Services Corporation (CPG) as vice president of Church Publishing Incorporated, from 2006-2011. Laury joined Continuum International Publishing Group in 2004, as director of Morehouse Church Supplies – a position she held until late 2005 when CPG acquired the book publishing, curriculum and church resource divisions of Morehouse Publishing. Laury was also a business owner, managing her own public relations, marketing and advertising firm, In-House Agency, from 1998-2004, serving as the communications specialist for numerous successful media initiatives. Laury holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism/Public Relations from the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism at West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.
In this episode, you will learn about how to get 50% of all your customers from referrals.
Driven by a conviction that the business of selling creates freedom, David brings an exceptional 40-year career as a salesperson, speaker, coach, and author of “Are you for real?!” (Aviva, 2015), an inspiring sales-career survival guide. He empowers all types of individuals to new heights thanks to his time-tested methodologies, an ability to motivate others beyond their expectations, and his genuine joy in seeing others succeed.
David’s entrepreneurial spirit was ignited early in life from parents who owned an Oriental rug company. At 15, he launched a business brokering the sale of used appliances, earning the princely sum of $200 per month in the 1970s. Upon graduating high school, he secured an entry-level job at a bank and quickly rose to managerial roles, becoming vice president six years later. David’s warmth, sincerity, and passion for person-to-person business would become an asset throughout his sales career, spanning many industries.
The roots of his coaching career go back 30 years when he overcame his wall in sales through an intensive personal growth process that led to exponential increases in his revenues. Today, David shares his secrets with others, using a coaching methodology based on the value of work and self. He imparts in his clients the belief that a willingness to change and become a better person will drive sales and business success.
According to David, success comes down to awareness, self-acceptance, self-development, communication, change, belief in yourself and the service you provide, and, most importantly, being honest and caring.
He resides in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York with his wife.
In this episode, you will learn about how the Museum Association of New York (MANY) is consistently growing their tourism efforts from Erika Sanger.
Erika Sanger joined MANY (Museum Assoc. Of New York) after serving twelve years as the Director of Education at the Albany Institute of History and Art. There she provided vision for the development of programs for adults, children, schools, and families, focusing on object-based learning and digital initiatives. She had led the institute’s digital renaissance, most notably with the launch of a new website and creation of interpretative strategies around hand-held digital devices and interactive media.
Erika has gained her extensive arts experience through positions held at renowned institutions including the International Center of Photography, the Jewish Museum, the New York Historical Society, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Asheville Art Museum in Asheville, NC. She served as Director of Development at Penland School of Crafts in Western North Carolina, where she was actively engaged in the region’s artists community, and participated in the design and implementation of campaigns for capital and endowment funds. She has also developed program assessments with Harvard University’s Project Zero, the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching, and with the education department at the University at Albany. Programs produced under her direction have received funding from major organizations, including the Institute for Museum and Library Services and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
Erika holds a B.F.A. from Clark University, in Worcester, MA, and an M.A. from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.
The Annual Conference of the Museum Association of New York will be in April 2018 in Rochester, NY, details to follow.
In this episode, you will learn about why collaboration at the regional level makes a huge difference from Valerie Knoblauch.
Valerie is President and CEO of the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection where she has worked since 1984 when she was hired as the organization’s first employee. In her role, she is responsible for guiding a team of tourism marketing professionals who are charged with promoting all of the fun experiences offered in Ontario County and the Finger Lakes region. Valerie thrives on the challenge of figuring out people’s motivations to travel and translating that into marketing programs that inspire travel to the destination where she lives, works and plays. Prior to beginning with the Finger Lakes Visitors connection, Valerie worked as a Tour Guide and Public Relations Manager for Gold Seal Vineyards in Hammondsport, NY after a career as a High School English teacher at Red Jacket Central High School.
Valerie loves to travel – imagine that. She also enjoys bicycling, wine, gardening, photography, and cooking. She loves the theatre, especially live theatre and musicals, and likes history – especially as it is interpreted to put into place “where we are today …”
Valerie is blessed with a very large family, many of whom have settled in the area. She has been married to her husband Kurt since 1982. They have three sons and three wonderfully diverse daughters-in-law and three grandsons. Valerie has friends across the world, because of her career in travel and tourism and because of her multicultural family. She loves learning every day from all of the characters in her life.
In this episode, you will learn about how leveraging your social media in the tourism industry can help you to bring in more visitors from Brittany Gibson.
In her capacity at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Brittany is responsible for promoting Schuyler County’s tourism industry by creating and implementing tourism marketing and public relations programs. She is also responsible for developing and implementing programs to increase the visibility and credibility of the Chamber. Brittany serves on the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council Board of Directors, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Marketing Committee, the Schuyler County Planning Board, and the Community Development Corporation Board of Directors. She volunteers her time serving as the coordinator of her family’s charity organization, Team Charlie.
Brittany’s areas of expertise include marketing, advertising, public relations, social media, and event planning. She is passionate about the Finger Lakes and is eager to see Schuyler County continue to grow – both in business and tourism.
In this episode, you will learn from Ramjee Chandran about the evolution of tourism publishing, and why creative content is as important now as it was in 1989.
Ramjee Chandran is an entrepreneur, writer, publisher, and musician with 27 years of publishing experience. As a journalist, his articles have been published in India and other countries. Most of Chandran’s publishing career involved magazines related to the tourism industry including city guides and business travel magazines – both print and online.
The first city guide he launched was on March 31, 1989, for his hometown of Bangalore, India. In the years following, he launched the “Explocity Guide” series of city guide magazines in several destinations including New York City, Dubai and several major metros in India. Other magazines included Executive Traveller and other city-based lifestyle magazines.
Ramjee Chandran received investment from a US-based venture capital fund in 2000, and a few years later, a meeting with publishing mogul Rupert Murdoch led to Murdoch picking up a 25% stake in Chandran’s publishing enterprise, Explocity.
Chandran was awarded the prestigious “Chanakya Award” for Innovative Leadership by the Indian Council for Public Relations and was named one of 10 best entrepreneurs from the state of Karnataka, India by online giant, Rediff.com (REDF – NASDAQ).
Recently, Ramjee launched a website for New York State: www.DestinationsOfNewYorkState.com and runs this in an exclusive strategic alliance with the experienced tourism company, Destinations Of NYS, based in Saugerties, NY.
Chandran is also a jazz guitarist and has performed on stage with internationally acclaimed jazz musicians and at international jazz festivals. He believes that the one thing he does with more mediocrity than playing jazz is his other distraction, playing chess.
In this episode, you will learn about the importance of creating opportunities for both guests and other small businesses from Debbie Meritsky.
Debbie is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute and has worked in the food industry for over 30 years with an emphasis on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. Debbie is co-owner of the Black Sheep Inn & Spa located in Hammondsport in the Finger Lakes region of NYS. As the Inn chef, she is an avid proponent of sourcing local organic foods and the clean food movement in the Finger Lakes region. Debbie prepares delicious farm-to-table breakfasts for her guests, sourced from within 50 miles of the Black Sheep Inn & Spa. She also enjoys sharing with her guests those techniques on how to create this lifestyle at home, wherever they may live. Debbie’s other passion is art, and, specifically, creating art from recycled and repurposed “ingredients”. Debbie and her husband Marc created the Arts in Bloom Art Trail to showcase the fantastic art being created in their area. In its 5th year Arts in Bloom is a family-friendly, free community event that features live demonstrations at artist studios and galleries on the trail.
In this episode, you will learn about non-profits in the travel and tourism industry from Jacob Taddy.
Jacob Taddy is the founder and Executive Director of Onwards, a non-profit organization connecting people through unique travel experiences that empower local entrepreneurs. After working on service projects in the Navajo Nation, Skid Row in Los Angeles, and construction sites throughout the US and the Caribbean, Onwards was born when founder Jacob Taddy recognized a need to shift how he, and others, were talking about and providing domestic and international aid. Onwards seeks to shift from short-term solutions and volunteer projects to long-term, sustainable economic development. By providing microloans and business training to local tourism based business owners, Onwards empowers local entrepreneurs to tap into the largest industry on the planet, tourism, to create jobs and direct tourism dollars into communities that need it.
You have heard our guests talk about co-opetition- that really cool thing that happens when competitors come together to collaborate on a project or program in order to create something bigger than they could have done on their own. This podcast recaps ten strategies for successful collaborative partnerships that we have learned from our guests.
In this episode, you will learn about how New York is consistently growing their tourism efforts from Gavin Landry, the former Executive Director of Tourism at Empire State Development.
Gavin Landry joined Empire State Development (ESD) as the Executive Director of Tourism in March of 2013. Mr. Landry’s appointment came at a time of continued tourism growth across New York State and amidst the launch of a series of new tourism initiatives by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. Thanks to the support of Governor Cuomo, tourism has become the fourth largest employer in the State.
As former Executive Director, Mr. Landry lead the iconic I LOVE NEW YORK marketing campaign where he developed and implemented new initiatives to further the State’s positive tourism growth. Mr. Landry also worked closely with the New York State Tourism Advisory Council, which provides input and advice regarding the state’s tourism efforts.
Before joining Empire State Development, Mr. Landry ran Landry Hospitality Consulting Services, where he provided full-service hospitality consulting to hotel developers and owners. Mr. Landry ran commercial hotels for a professional management company in markets such as Detroit, MI; Columbus, OH; Charlotte, NC, and Somerset, NJ. He has also served as president of the Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau, a post he held for 12 years. During that time, he served as the President of the NYS Association of CVB’s (2000-02). Gavin was the recipient of the 2016 Excellence in Leadership Award by the NYS Tourism Industry Association. A graduate of Cornell University, Mr. Landry served as an adjunct professor at New York University’s (NYU) Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism, and Sports Management for five years where he taught graduate courses in various disciplines of the tourism industry. In February of 2013, Mr. Landry was the recipient of an award for teaching excellence from NYU, one of 20 given across nine teaching disciplines. Mr. Landry is a member of the Cornell Hotel Society.
This episode is a little different from most. We will be hearing from a tireless advocate and NYS tourism industry promoter, Mike Linehan. This interview was recorded in October 2016. Mike was gracious in volunteering to be one of Destination on the Left’s first interviews. He was very patient with me and my audio team as we were learning the ropes of podcast production.
Mike and I had a fantastic conversation and he shared many insights from his 30 years in the tourism industry. The audio from our interview however didn’t record properly and most of the interview was unusable. Mike was very kind when I explained what had happened and offered to reschedule so that we could get a good audio file. Unfortunately, our schedules did not align and Mike passed away unexpectedly on February 15, 2017.
Mike’s vision, his tenacity, his insights, his humor are part of the foundation of tourism in New York State. So, I went back to that bad recording and found 20 minutes of our conversation that I want to share with our listeners. We can all continue to learn and benefit from Mike Linehan.
Mike Linehan served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce for 24 years. Born in Hammondsport, NY, Mike settled in Penn Yan, NY after spending several years in the state of Colorado.
Mike’s formal training included courses of study at St. John Fisher College, Corning Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and the Institutes for Organization Management at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a graduating member of the Class of 1999.
Mike was a member of: the Keuka College Community Associates Board serving as Chair since 2000; NYS Tourism Industry Association where he served as past president; Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; Loyal Order of Moose; Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council where he served as Chair; Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association where he served as Chair and the Chamber Alliance of New York State.
In his spare time, Mike enjoyed cooking, gardening, and boating on the Finger Lakes. He lived in Penn Yan with his wife, Molly, daughters Meaghan and Morgen, and dogs Moses and Maggie.
In this episode, you will learn how every traveler makes a difference from Kristy Kennedy, Vice President of Marketing and The Director of Tourism for the Adirondack Coast Visitor Bureau (ACVB), a division of the North Country Chamber of Commerce.
Kristy has been with the ACVB since 2008. In her current role, Kristy leads the Visitors Bureau’s efforts in developing and implementing a yearly strategic marketing plan to increase tourism in Clinton County.
A Plattsburgh native and a graduate of Plattsburgh State University, Kristy was named a Face of our Future by Strictly Business magazine and in 2008 Kristy was named New York State’s Virginia Allan Young Careerist in acknowledgment of her personal and professional accomplishments, writing ability and public speaking. She went on to place in the top 10 in the nation.
Before joining the Chamber, Kristy worked as Office Manager and Marketing Coordinator for
Fesette Realty. Prior to that, Kristy held the role of Marketing & Promotions Coordinator for 95 Triple X and 620am WVMT Radio in Burlington.
Outside of her work at the Chamber, Kristy enjoys listening to live music, exploring the local food scene and creating one-of-a-kind dishes in her kitchen. She is a self-proclaimed Crazy Cat Lady and spends as much time with her better half Shannon and her family as possible including two full-of-life nephews.
In this episode, you will learn about what can be done to build a destination’s brand from David Holder, the former President of Visit Syracuse.
David Holder did not grow up in Central New York, as you’ll recognize from his slight southern drawl and love of cheese grits. He may not be a native but he is definitely one of the area’s greatest cheerleaders. A love of the outdoors, weather (yes, you heard correctly), great food, and overall quality of life drive David’s passion for the Syracuse area. When he was President, he translated that love into a killer brand position for Visit Syracuse, one of six accredited DMOs in the state of New York, leading the effort to Do Your Thing and amplify awareness of Syracuse for convention planners, sporting event organizers and leisure visitors from around the world. Prior to joining Visit Syracuse, David directed the tourism and economic development efforts for the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia, led the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau in Corning, New York and conducted community based strategic planning for the Texas Tourism Division. He earned both a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Science in Tourism Management from North Carolina State University.
In this episode, you will learn about tracking conversions from Ralph Thompson, President and Chief Brain of eBrains.
Formally trained as in finance and as a CPA, Ralph gained basic experience with Price Waterhouse Coopers and then moved on to NYSE regional banking firm where he advanced to become a top finance and administration executive over 10 years. He took his first entrepreneurial step as co-owner and COO of The Martin Agency (an Ad Age Agency of the Year) where he grew the company from 20 people to 250 over a 10 year period before selling it to Interpublic Group. His next adventure started when he co-founded eBrains to focus on digital marketing in the travel and tourism industry. eBrains is celebrating its 18th year. The company was sold three years ago to a DC marketing holding company and Ralph remains in his role as President and Chief Brain. Ralph enjoys using ample blessings of both sides of the brain to help brands leverage the digital marketing space to drive more measurable incremental ROI. He enjoys spending time with his wife of 48 years, two children, 3 grandchildren and collaborating with friends and colleagues. Ralph enjoys golf, wine, great food and travel.
In this episode, you will learn about working with partners to create a niche culinary trail from Meg Vanek.
Meg Vanek is the executive director of the Cayuga County Convention and Visitors Bureau and has served in this capacity for 20 years. She is originally from the Finger Lakes but left the region at 17, graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and worked in the property management and hospitality industries in southern California and England for 14 years before returning to the region. In addition to her position as executive director of the Cayuga County Convention and Visitors Bureau, she also serves on the Board of Directors of the NYS Tourism Industry Association, the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council, as well as several other tourism related committees.
In this episode, you will learn about using partnerships to maximize effect from Kelly Rapone.
Kelly has been Tourism Marketing Director at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce in the Buffalo Niagara region of NYS for the past 13 years, and a part of the Chamber’s Tourism program for 18 years. In her role, Kelly manages implementation and development of the overall tourism marketing program for Genesee County. In addition to her work at the county level, Kelly has been instrumental in several regional and statewide tourism marketing initiatives including the roles of regional administrator for Greater Niagara Region, project manager for Country Byways of the Greater Niagara Region, and project coordinator for the War of 1812 Honorary Peace Garden Trail brochure.
Kelly is also the founder and administrator of the Haunted History Trail of New York State. The Haunted History Trail of New York State began in 2013 and features attractions from almost every region of New York State including haunted dining, tours, attractions, events and accommodations, with many of the attractions tying back to New York’s local history. In 2015 the Haunted History Trail of NYS was recognized with an Excellence in Tourism Marketing Award Statewide by the New York State Tourism Industry Association. It is the only state-wide paranormal tourism trail in the country.
In this episode, you will learn the skills that transfer from working client side to agency side and traits every PR professional should have, from Colleen Knopeck, Associate Consultant at Break The Ice Media.
Colleen uses her passion for writing and storytelling as an Associate Consultant at Break The Ice Media. She brings with her demonstrated success in proactive media relations and brand marketing communications for B2B, B2C, and B2E audiences. Colleen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication: Journalism/Media Studies from SUNY Geneseo and a Master’s Degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from St. Bonaventure University. Her enthusiasm, attention to detail, and commitment to exceeding expectations are reflected in her work, and in the results she drives for her clients.
In this episode, you will learn about using hashtags over a variety of social media channels and how to use Instagram effectively from Jessica Reilly, Associate Consultant, at Break The Ice Media.
Jessica is a graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Political Science. She started at Break The Ice Media in 2016 and brings with her a duality of knowledge, combining her classical PR training with marketing skills. She has a passion for social media and analytics. Her personal strengths include a love of research, and a strong sense of curiosity. She brings a fresh perspective and attention to detail to all the client projects she works on.