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Destination On The Left

Destination On The Left is a podcast focused on the travel and tourism industry that explores successful collaborations, creative marketing ideas and best practices. Interviews are a mix of Destination Marketers, Industry Leaders, Consultants and businesses in the industry. We explore consumer marketing programs and travel trade marketing programs. This podcast provides an opportunity for professionals in the travel & tourism industry to share what they have learned and successes that they have achieved.
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Now displaying: 2019
Jun 17, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 NYS Tourism Conference in Buffalo, New York and interviewed presenters, conference attendees, and Tourism Excellence Award winners. My interviews focused on the conference themes of inclusion, fostering community engagement, and “tourism is everybody’s business”, as well as key takeaways from the conference. This episode focuses on some of the award winners, and I hope you find these conversations informative and inspiring.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council has fostered collaboration between fourteen different New York counties for their “Finger Lakes Region Goes Beyond Wine as a Tourism Hot Spot” program
  • How the New York State Canal Corporation’s partnerships with local businesses and organizations have helped them expand the number of programs and attractions on offer throughout the canal system
  • How Dutchess Tourism is using social media tools such as Facebook Live videos they call “Dutchess Live” to generate interest and showcase destinations and experiences of all kinds that travelers can have in the area
  • How Visit Binghamton is using video interviews as an opportunity to showcase the extensive history of the area and how local entrepreneurs are merging it with new innovations

Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council

Executive Director Lisa Burns shares details about the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council’s award-winning program, “Finger Lakes Region Goes Beyond Wine as a Tourism Hot Spot”, and she shares the remarkable results the program has produced for the region. She shares how the PR-focused program has found great success in publications and media outlets like Conde Nast, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Today Show and others. She shares how fourteen counties in the area are working together in a collaboration to promote the entire region and benefit everyone, and she talks about how the program has far exceeded their goals and in 2017 alone produced more than 2.1 billion impressions and almost five hundred media placements. Lisa discusses how the collaboration between the fourteen counties can serve as a benchmark for how destination management organizations should work. She shares how honored she is that their program was recognized by peers within the industry, and she discusses the further honor of being asked to chair the 2019 NYSTIA Tourism Excellence Awards. She discusses work that is being done to enhance how the awards are presented and promote the value of the NYSTIA organization. She talks about how NYSTIA is now sourcing the awards locally from the area where the awards ceremony is being held each year, and she discusses the process and deadline for nominating others for the 2019 awards.

New York State Canal Corporation

Marketing Director Bill Sweitzer shares details of award-winners the Canal Corporation has nominated in the past, and he discusses why those programs were nominated. He shares how he realized that the tourism industry in the area is the sum of its parts, and why business partners are a major contributor to its marketing success. He discusses how many of the small local tourism businesses are unaware of their own huge contributions to the fabric of local tourism. He discusses nominating the team that creates the canal map and annual guide materials that are given out, and he shares why he wanted to recognize the map and guide’s creators for giving spots in the area a true sense of place. He shares why partnerships are vital to the success of the Canal Corporation, and he explains why being involved in NYSTIA is a huge benefit. He shares his plans for nominations for the next awards, specifically for the Corning Museum of Glass’s GlassBarge program that had more than 55,000 visitors last summer. He shares details about another future nominee, the Cycle the Erie Canal Bike Tour, a seven-day bike ride from one end of the Erie Canal to the other.

Dutchess Tourism

President and CEO Mary Kay Vrba discusses details of their award-winning Facebook Live initiative, “Dutchess Live”, where they create videos showcasing many of the varied experiences available in the area, both large and small. She discusses how the program works and how subjects are targeted and showcased through the video series. She shares pre-promotion efforts to ensure that viewers are aware of the live broadcasts, and she shares how the videos can be repurposed for future productions and promotions. She talks about why it is important to plan your project and do a test run to ensure that the technical side of things is working. She explains why it is important to stay aware of social media and marketing trends, and she shares the steps they have taken to stay current on those trends including sending staff to conferences and participating in webinars as well as doing extensive research. She talks about creating “lunch and learn” programs for partners and vendors so that they can benefit from the research and learning that is being done. She shares why winning an Excellence Award is reassuring and tells her that Dutchess Tourism is on the right track.

Visit Binghamton

Sales and Social Media Manager Cassie Green shares details of their “Be Part of Our Story” campaign, an initiative to tell the past of the community of Binghamton and the unique stories of young entrepreneurs and innovators who are building upon the past to create something new. She shares how the organization brought together the nine stories that Binghamton is showcasing in the campaign, and she shares how the campaign is still growing. She talks about being surprised at the number of great opportunities to promote the area when she first moved into her role. She shares her community pride at being an award winner and recognizes the community collaborations that have made it possible.

Overview

These Excellence Award winners each demonstrate how innovation, technology, history, and collaboration come together to create compelling programs and campaigns that truly showcase the remarkable experiences these communities have to offer. The New York State Canal Corporation’s partnerships with local businesses and the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council’s collaboration between their fourteen area counties show us that working together truly benefits everyone involved. Dutchess Tourism’s Facebook Live videos and Visit Binghamton’s “Be Part of Our Story” videos demonstrate the power that technology and social media have to reach new audiences in innovative and compelling ways. These four organizations truly deserve to be honored as Excellence Award winners.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Jun 12, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 NYS Tourism Conference in Buffalo, New York and interviewed presenters, conference attendees, and Tourism Excellence Award winners. My interviews focused on the conference themes of inclusion, fostering community engagement, and “tourism is everybody’s business”, as well as key takeaways from the conference. I hope you find these conversations informative and inspiring.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the New York canal system is bringing a tremendous economic impact to the entire state as well as to New York, and how the New York State Canal Corporation is working to improve accessibility to the canal trails
  • Why messaging is important for Visit Syracuse, and how they are working to engage the community and demonstrate that tourism is a significant economic driver for the area
  • How a recent $10 million downtown revitalization grant from the state has helped the Yates County Chamber of Commerce promote significant community engagement and feedback
  • How the Cayuga County Office of Tourism is developing critical strategic partnerships with other organizations throughout the region to share a single, unified message about tourism
  • How the iconic I LOVE NY tourism program is working to promote inclusivity through programs like their LGBT initiative to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and World Pride
  • How working in a diverse and welcoming tourism destination shaped the views of Steve Williams at Experience Champions and opened his eyes to the opportunities the tourism industry has to become more inclusive
  • Why Visit Buffalo Niagara believes that the key to successfully promoting inclusivity lies in ensuring that marketing and partnerships reflect diverse types of people
  • How Valerie Knoblauch at Finger Lakes Visitors Connection found energy and timeliness in the topics that were discussed at the conference that she plans on taking home with her and integrating into her own work

New York State Canal Corporation

Brian Stratton from New York State Canal Corporation describes the 524 mile-long New York State Canal System that touches seven of the state’s ten economic regions. He shares the importance of creating accessibility to promote inclusion throughout the canal trail. He shares why physical access isn’t the only concern and that he has learned the importance of creating accessibility on the organization’s website as well. He describes upcoming events his organization will be participating in to promote accessibility. He discusses the state of New York’s commitment to promoting the tourism industry and the many organizations and businesses across the state that work within the industry. He describes the remarkable economic impact the canal system brings to the state. He shares the international tourism opportunities that the canal system is bringing to the state and even to Canada.

Visit Syracuse

Danny Liedka of Visit Syracuse discusses why tourism is a major economic engine for the community, keeping property taxes stable, creates jobs, and helps the community grow. He discusses why it is important to share the message that the tourism industry is an integral part of the community. He discusses his hopes to learn new strategies and ideas at the conference that he can bring back to his own work.

Yates County Chamber of Commerce

Jessica Bacher of the Yates County Chamber of Commerce shares how Yates County recently received a $10 million downtown revitalization grant from the state of New York, and she discusses the impact that grant has made for the small community and how it has helped dramatically promote community engagement. She shares how this is her first time attending the conference, and how she has learned a great deal about ADA compliance and inclusion initiatives from the conference and its panels and discussions.

Cayuga County Office of Tourism

Karen Kuhl from the Cayuga County Office of Tourism discusses the many aspects of inclusivity and shares why addressing the issue of inclusivity from the strategic planning front is vital. She shares why reaching out and establishing strategic alliances with region-wide partners for a unified message is the key to fostering stronger community engagement. She talks about the important conference takeaway of promoting ADA compliance in the physical tourism structure and on organization websites. She also shares why marketing materials need to be fully inclusive of many different communities.

Empire State Development & I LOVE NY

Ross Levi from Empire State Development discusses why it is important to be sensitive to the wants and needs of all kinds of travelers. He shares inclusivity initiatives at I LOVE NY, including their LGBT initiative which is helping to promote the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. He shares excitement over World Pride being hosted in New York for the first time in its history. He discusses new initiatives around senior tours and accessibility tours, as well as collaborative cultural sensitivity workshops. He shares why frequent, open, collaborative communication between partners is important, and he provides examples of partnerships his organization has made and work they are doing with local-level partners. He shares hopes that attendees will get a sense of how well I LOVE NY’s partnerships are working to promote the industry. He shares the significant figure that the travel industry in New York is responsible for one in ten jobs in the state.

Experience Champions

Steve Williams from Experience Champions shares how his company works with and provides workshops and trainings for small and medium-sized tourism businesses to improve their success. He shares why the people-focused tourism industry has a wonderful opportunity to promote welcoming and inclusive travel as well as to be inclusive employers. He shares his own experiences as a gay man and how working at Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia in a welcoming, inclusive and accepting environment was a transformative experience for him. He shares how the zoo participated in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and how the zoo promoted legalizing same-sex marriage in Australia. He discusses how tourism leaders have the opportunity to embrace and promote diversity, and he provides an example from the Taronga Zoo and creating a partnership with Autism Australia to help staff better understand the needs of people on the autism spectrum. He shares his hopes that attendees will leave the conference with a better sense of the diversity within their communities and ideas of how to capture diverse markets.

Visit Buffalo Niagara

Dionne Williamson from Visit Buffalo Niagara discusses how tourism leaders can make an impact in diversity and inclusion within the industry both through inclusive marketing efforts as well as in diverse hiring practices. She shares how she was the Multicultural Sales Manager at Visit Buffalo Niagara before becoming the National Sales Director at the organization, and she shares her personal experiences with diverse clients. She discusses the importance of engaging with clients and with the larger community. She shares why she believes community engagement, in particular, is important, and she shares why diversity and inclusion training within the hospitality and tourism community should be ongoing. She shares why she hopes attendees of the convention will see the importance of diverse marketing and partnerships as an opportunity to expand their reach.

Finger Lakes Visitors Connection

Valerie Knoblauch from Finger Lakes Visitors Connection shares why there has been powerful energy at the conference that can be applied to industry leaders’ workplaces. She shares why community leaders need to get involved in the community to create connectivity and better foster community engagement. She shares how the tourism industry is interconnected with many other industries to the mutual benefit of everyone involved. She explains how the topics covered at the conference are timely and helpful, and she discusses examples displayed at the conference that she can take home with her.

Overview

Each of the industry leaders I spoke with represents different aspects of the travel and tourism industry from all across New York, but they all share the same belief that inclusivity is the key to welcoming new audiences and bringing in new visitors from all over the world and that the travel industry should reflect the diversity of the communities it serves. As these organizations show us, inclusivity involves developing partnerships, ongoing training, and sensitivity to and understanding of all kinds of people from every background. I hope you have enjoyed hearing these leaders speak on inclusivity and engagement and that you have a better understanding of why tourism truly is everybody’s business.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Jun 10, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the Waterloo Library & Historical Society and the National Memorial Day Museum have developed a Capital Campaign to draw in new audiences and improve the inclusivity of their historical offerings and archive
  • How the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park is unique as the only park in the United States to offer interstate highway travelers a parking pull-off and an opportunity to visit the park in the middle of their travels
  • How the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center is using unique and diverse programming to draw in new visitors and create a local audience, as well as serving as a gateway to other cultural and historic sites in the Auburn area and beyond
  • How the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is promoting inclusivity by partnering with The Arc of Rensselaer County to showcase the work of artists with mental and physical disabilities

Waterloo Library & Historical Society

Cyndi Park-Sheils from the Waterloo Library & Historical Society in Waterloo, New York discusses how they have learned valuable inclusivity strategies at the conference to incorporate into their old, historical buildings to allow people to move more freely. She discusses upcoming events including celebrating the birthplace of Memorial Day in Waterloo. She shares how inclusivity is key for allowing as many visitors as possible to view the museum’s collections. Cyndi also talks about how her organization is connected to the fabric of Waterloo through being the sole custodian of Waterloo’s museums and culture, and she discusses upcoming partnerships with local restaurants to increase awareness and education opportunities for visitors to Waterloo. She shares her excitement over the National Memorial Day Museum’s Capital Campaign and the diverse visitors it will draw to Waterloo. She discusses relocating the organization’s archives to a better and more accessible location.

Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park

Andrea Seamans with the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron, New York discusses her organization as a collaboration between the New York State Thruway and the nonprofit Canal Society of New York State. She shares how her organization is the only park in the United States that has a parking pull-off for interstate highway travelers to visit a historic site. She talks about why the park is admission-free to be as inclusive as possible for visitors, and how the park provides wheelchairs and the site is entirely wheelchair-accessible. She discusses efforts to improve signage on the Thruway and throughout the village to increase visitor awareness of the park. Andrea explores the promotional opportunities for school and bus tours offer the park. She also shares the broad spectrum of diverse visitors who visit the park, many of whom are international visitors traveling to Boston, New York City or Niagara Falls. She talks about the close connection that many of the local families have with the history of the Old Erie Canal, and how her organization helps to promote other canals in the area. She discusses her hopes for the future of the park, including increasing community outreach and historical education opportunities at the park and shares the remarkable and diverse volunteer community that works at the park and has formed powerful friendships across generations with other volunteers.

NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center

Courtney Kasper at the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center in Auburn, New York discusses how her organization serves to educate visitors on the history of equality in the state and to promote local and statewide equality sites and programs regarding human rights, Abolition, and women’s rights. She shares why inclusivity is a two-fold issue, being inclusive of the community they are serving as well as promoting and improving accessibility. She shares how her facility is free, open to the public, and community-accessible and she discusses the diverse programming the organization offers. She talks about their efforts to promote women- and minority-owned small businesses through their events. She discusses how their position as a new facility has helped to bring audiences, and how school field trips have been key. She explores the facility’s recent celebration of Harriet Tubman Day and the opportunity it served to bring in local visitors. Courtney shares the role her organization plays in the fabric of the community, and the interactive exhibits her facility offers that promote other statewide tourism and cultural attractions. She talks about future collaboration opportunities for her organization to be a cross-promotional marketing site for other cultural sites in the area.

Seneca Falls Historical Society

Frances Barbieri from the Seneca Falls Historical Society in Seneca Falls, New York shares how the society came to be founded in the late 1800s and some of the historically significant items and artifacts in the possession of the society that is connected to the history of women’s rights. She discusses the wide variety of attractions and offerings the society shares with the public, with something for everyone. She talks about the important role the society is playing in preserving the local history of the families of the area, and how the organization is working to help everyone of every background search for their family roots in the area. She shares how the organization offers outreach to people of all ages within the community. She discusses the future of the organization as it enters a transitional period with changing leadership after her retirement, and the challenges and opportunities their new director will find going forward.

Overview

One common thread in each of these conversations has been the critical role outreach plays for these organizations. From field trips and school visits to community engagement and business partnerships, each of these cultural and historical centers has found that reaching out to a broad spectrum of people of all cultures, age groups and interests have helped bolster their audience and better engage their communities. These organizations have also found value in cross-promoting other key historic and cultural sites in their communities and beyond. By connecting the important lessons of the past with the need for inclusivity and accessibility as we understand them today, these organizations are already looking forward to a bright and thriving future.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Jun 5, 2019

Episode 132:

We recently attended the 2019 NYSTC in Buffalo, New York and interviewed presenters, conference attendees, and Tourism Excellence Award winners. My interviews focused on the conference themes of inclusion, fostering community engagement, and “tourism is everybody’s business”, as well as key takeaways from the conference. I hope you find these conversations informative and inspiring.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the opening of the Legoland New York theme park in Orange County, New York is bringing new opportunities for both tourism and community engagement to the county
  • How Adirondack Diversity Solutions helps organizations create roadmaps for diversity and inclusion strategic planning, and why communities of color are a generally underserved market within tourism
  • How Visit Rochester’s innovative Visitor Industry Council is bringing the area’s tourism-related businesses together and fostering a sense of community engagement
  • How the Explore & More Children’s Museum has integrated the concepts of diversity and inclusion into each of their rotating exhibits to reflect the diverse community of Western New York
  • How Oneida County Tourism is using unique partnerships with a local college and radio station to build community engagement and awareness of their mission and the work they are doing
  • How Madden Media’s presentation focused on teaching organizations that “heads in beds” is just a single statistic that is part of a larger experience tourists have, and why it isn’t a reliable metric for the whole experience
  • How the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is working to be more inclusive with their marketing efforts, including tailoring marketing to diverse groups such as the LGBT community

Orange County Tourism

Amanda Dana from Orange County Tourism discusses how leaders in the tourism industry can make an impact on inclusivity within tourism. She shares why the message these leaders give needs to be clear and concise. She shares her excitement about the tourism opportunities being brought to Orange County by Legoland New York, opening in May 2020. She discusses the economic impact of a major site like Legoland partnering with the county, and how they have worked to be as engaged with the community as possible from the beginning. She talks about the important takeaway from the conference that the language around the tourism industry needs to change, specifically to illustrate how it is serving as a public good.

Adirondack Diversity Solutions

Cindy Rodriguez of Adirondack Diversity Solutions discusses her company’s focus on helping organizations create diversity and inclusion strategic planning and improve their recruitment and retention, specifically focused on communities of color. She shares how tourism leaders should have a plan on how to improve diversity, by setting goals and benchmarks and then comparing their organization’s current status with those goals to see where the work needs to be done. She shares why diversity work needs to be a part of your organization’s culture rather than a one-hour event or a once-a-year workshop and why diversity and inclusion needs to be a part of new employee onboarding. She explains why communities of color are underserved within the tourism industry traditionally, and she shares why diversity creates a great opportunity to tap into a new market.

Dr. Donathan Brown from Adirondack Diversity Solutions talks about why it is important for tourism leaders to reimagine how they engage communities, organizations, programs and other aspects of tourism. He discusses a partnership with the Adirondack Experience Museum on Blue Mountain Lake to develop a pipeline experiential learning program for college students to offer them a 10-week summer fellowship to introduce them to the museum world. He explains why it is important to have community outreach programs to discuss the tourism industry from the perspective of travelers as well as tourism professionals. He discusses the importance of being intentional in diversity efforts and to set goals internally before working outward.

Visit Rochester

Greg LaDuca with Visit Rochester discusses why tourism leaders need to reach out to middle managers and others within their organization to give them a voice when discussing inclusion. He shares why having a large group of volunteers brainstorming is helpful for inclusivity work and why it is important for leaders to raise community awareness of their work. He discusses the Visitor Industry Council that Visit Rochester has created, and he shares how their monthly council meetings have between 125-150 people attending them, demonstrating the strong hospitality and tourism industry in the county. He shares why having many people collaborating and working together is a powerful way to create new ideas, and why it is important to be committed and active to reap the rewards of interactions within the industry.

Explore & More Children’s Museum

Jeannine Weber Kahabka with the Explore & More Children’s Museum discusses why inclusivity is core to Explore & More’s mission, creating a diverse and welcoming environment where everyone is welcome to play. She shares how the museum has worked to include diversity into each of the exhibits the museum showcases, reflecting the diverse cultures of the Buffalo and Western New York community. She disucsses how Explore & More’s outreach initiatives connect with people across a 90-minute radius around the museum. She talk about why discussing tourism at the conference has been tremendously helpful, and the economic impact the museum hopes to have across the region surrounding their new location.

Oneida County Tourism

Sarah Foster from Oneida County Tourism talks about the importance of digital outreach and social media, and she shares her enthusiasm for the conference and the opportunity to learn from other organizations. She shares how Oneida County is working to foster community engagement through a county “field trip” day and through partnerships with the local radio station and a young scholars’ group at the local college. She discusses efforts she and her staff are taking to get out into the community more often, and she talks about upcoming efforts to interview local organizations and attractions based upon community votes for who they would like to see interviewed. She shares how she is using the conference as an opportunity to gather ideas and learn new processes that other counties and organizations are creating.

Madden Media

Dan Janes from Madden Media shares how tourism leaders can appeal to and speak directly with diverse communities and bring them into your audience by including them in your digital media initiatives. He shares why it is important to rethink how tourism impacts the community at large and not just focus on tourism and hospitality partners within the community. He explains why focusing on a single statistic of “heads in beds” means not recognizing or acknowledging the other experiences within your community that a tourist will have. He discusses the importance of collaboration and trusting your partners to be working in the best interests of your community.

New York Wine & Grape Foundation

Sam Filler of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation discusses why the wine industry seldom discusses inclusivity despite the importance of the topic, and he shares how his organization is working to improve that track record. He talks about why an organization’s website needs to be as accessible to many different people as possible, such as including Closed Captioning in promotional videos. He discusses how his organization has worked with travel writers of diverse backgrounds to engage diverse audiences. He talks through how his organization is working to improve their consumer research by being more inclusive of audiences such as the LGBT community. He shares why it is important to research your audience and better understand them to improve and reframe your marketing, and why “one size fits all” marketing is less effective than diverse and inclusive marketing targeted to communities.

Overview

As my conversations with these industry professionals shows, each of these organizations has recognized the vital part inclusivity plays in expanding their audiences. Each also spoke on the central role travel and tourism leaders have in reshaping the conversation around community engagement, partnerships, and collaboration with others both within and outside the travel industry. In keeping with one of the primary themes of the conference, these organizations show us that tourism truly is everybody’s business.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Jun 3, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How The Museum at Bethel Woods works to preserve and showcase the history of the 1960s, leading up to 1969
  • Woodstock Music and Art Fair that took place at the historic site where the museum is now located
  • How an innovative “pay it forward” program is promoting inclusivity by allowing visitors who are financially struggling to still be able to visit the Roberson Museum and Science Center
  • How the Chenango County Historical Society and Museum is intentionally developing partnerships with the Bundy Museum and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum to help promote inclusivity in a region not known for its ethnic diversity
  • How the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center is promoting inclusivity by partnering with The Arc of Rensselaer County to showcase the work of artists with mental and physical disabilities

The Museum at Bethel Woods

Julia Fell shares the important mission of The Museum at Bethel Woods as a part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, located in Solomon County, New York. She discusses its role in the preservation of the history of the 1960s, culminating in the Woodstock festival that took place in 1969 on the historic grounds where the museum now stands, and she talks about the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival in August 2019. She discusses the efforts Bethel Woods and the museum are making to promote inclusivity through a variety of programming that targets many diverse audiences, she highlights their efforts to meet ADA accessibility standards, and she shares efforts to attract new young audiences. Julia discusses a series of oral history videos highlighting what life was like in the 1960s for young people of the day, contrasted with what life is like for today’s youth. She shares how the museum serves as a primary driver and important economic engine for the local community. She discusses the upcoming 50th anniversary of Woodstock and the boom in interest it is bringing to the museum.

Roberson Museum and Science Center

Natalie Shoemaker explains how the historic Roberson home serves as both the location for and the centerpiece of the Roberson Museum and Science Center located in Binghamton, New York. She discusses efforts to promote inclusivity at the museum including installing non-binary bathrooms and the use of inclusive pronouns. She shares how she wrote up an exhibition about a series of art pieces created by people with mental illness, and she shares the important lesson she learned when she inadvertently used a non-inclusive word in the write-up. She discusses the importance of continual growth and evolution in the area of inclusivity. She talks about the economic depression that is common in the area, and she discusses a “pay it forward” donation program to increase access to struggling community members. She shares efforts to attract new audiences to the museum. She gives information on social media outreach work she and the museum are doing to promote their exhibits. She shares how the museum fits into the local cultural fabric and discusses future opportunities to work with college students and older community members.

Chenango County Historical Society & Museum

Jessica Moquin describes efforts the Chenango County Historical Society and Museum are making to promote inclusivity, despite being located in a region not known for ethnic diversity, through intentional partnerships with other organizations such as the Bundy Museum and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. She shares how the museum is working to attract new audiences including a structural redesign of their main gallery and hallway lobby, as well as sharing stories about the region and the lasting impact it has made beyond its own borders. She discusses how her museum is one of four in the area, and she shares how the four museums are collaborating to develop an officially designated museum district to promote each other and attract new audiences. She shares future growth opportunities she recognizes for the museum and its more than 40,000 artifacts, eight-structure campus, and almost one hundred active volunteers.

Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center

Anastasia Garceau discusses the variety of historical and educational purposes the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center in Waterford, New York serves in an effort to preserve and promote local history and heritage. She highlights the diverse backgrounds and perspectives the museum’s volunteers bring to its efforts, and she shares partnerships with groups like The Arc of Rensselaer County, a community-based organization advocating for and serving people with mental and physical disabilities. Anastasia talks about her efforts to create engaging programs covering a broad spectrum of interests that will attract a diverse audience of visitors. She shares how Waterford is a great tourism location with many different and diverse destinations to appeal to travelers, and she shares how this directly benefits the museum and allows to serve as a central location connecting these sites. She discusses how the museum is always looking for growth opportunities and ways to expand their existing programming.

Overview

Each of these organizations is truly committed to tackling inclusivity issues in their own unique and innovative way. From the Roberson Museum and Science Center’s use of non-gendered pronouns and offering of non-binary restroom facilities, to the Waterford Historical Museum and Cultural Center’s partnership to highlight the artistic contributions of mentally and physically disabled artists, each of these museums has found a remarkable and stand-out way to promote inclusivity, attract diverse new audiences, and further integrate their work with other tourism and cultural efforts of their communities.

Resources:

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

May 29, 2019

Karyn Gruenberg is senior vice president of partner marketing and strategic alliances at Brand USA, the public/private partnership whose mission is to increase international visitation spend and market share in order to fuel the nation’s economy and enhance the image of the USA worldwide.

In this position, Karen is responsible for leading partner marketing efforts as well as building global strategic alliances to leverage the combined resources and expertise of the industry. Her leadership includes development and oversight of all partner-driven marketing programs and key global media alliances that add and create value for partners, amplify partners, international reach and drive, inbound visitor travel and tourism dollars to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five territories. Among her many accomplishments at Brand USA, Karen established a core partner program strategy that today includes more than 100 programs and 200 opportunities and key media partnerships with BBC, National Geographic, Bloomberg, and Your Own News and Alibaba to name a few.

Prior to joining brand USA, Karen led the marketing effort for Meet Minneapolis, the premier Tourism and Convention Marketing Organization of the Greater Minneapolis region. As part of the leadership team, she was instrumental in securing major sponsorships for the city as well as directing all advertising, public relations, digital development, and creative services to market the city. She earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota and pursued a Master in Business Communications at the University of Saint Thomas, Minnesota.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I ask Karyn to walk us through the many programs available through Brand USA, and how local attractions and destinations can take full advantage of them. We talk co-op marketing, storytelling, and much more – all geared toward the international visitor.

 

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How Brand USA uses co-op marketing to bring large-scale messages down to the local level
  • Why storytelling is such a powerful tool in our industry
  • How affordable marketing to international visitors can be
  • The power of proximity campaigns
  • Why coopetition is one of your best tools to bring international visitors to your region

Finding The Difference

How do you market an entire nation? Karyn and I talk about how Brand USA takes a larger message like “Enjoy the Great Outdoors” and helps local destinations craft a message for international audiences.

This happens in many different ways. There are fairly traditional co-op campaigns and there are new and exciting storytelling programs, like the one that Brand USA is rolling out with partner Beautiful Destinations called United Stories. And if you haven’t utilized Brand USA’s Inspiration Guide, now is your chance to learn more about it and put it to use for your destination.

Bang for Your Buck

The value of the dollar is a key advantage for international travelers. Even though over the past year value has dropped a little bit, it’s still a good buy.

Karyn talks about proximity campaigns being developed by Brand USA. Proximity campaigns give regions dollars and ideas to use in order to market to international visitors. You can experience Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes, and New York City, all within a short drive. Karyn talks with me about how proximity marketing is being used all around the country to highlight the amazing sights and activities available in a given region.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

 
May 27, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park is using innovative programming and presentations to promote inclusivity and draw a more diverse audience.
  • How the Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society is using collaborations with their local school district in an effort to expand their reach and engage new young audiences.
  • How Hyde Hall is using its historic lighting, including vapor-lit chandeliers, to become a one-of-a-kind destination for visitors from all over the world, as well as a desirable location for TV and film.
  • How the Vestal Museum is making efforts to be not just a historical site and museum but also a center of and showcase for music, arts and culture for the town of Vestal.

Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park

David Hutchings shares the history of the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua, New York, sharing how the home was built in 1887 to be the summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. After her husband Frederick died in 1899, Mary Clark Thompson toured gardens around Europe for inspiration to redesign the mansion’s own gardens as a tribute to Frederick. David speaks about his organization’s efforts toward inclusivity through programs designed to connect with many different people of many backgrounds, including an upcoming performance by an African-American women’s gospel choir covering the stories of women’s suffrage, slavery and Abolition. He discusses upcoming horticulture programs including one on climate change and the local landscape. David shares efforts to attract new, younger audiences to the gardens, including a Moonlight Stroll series with musical performances. He discusses the significant role the Thompson family played in the development of the local community and the contributions they made throughout the region. David shares future plans for the continual development of the site.

Williamson-Pultneyville Historical Society

Nanette Hance shares the founding and purpose of the all-volunteer historical society in Pultneyville, New York. She discusses how the organization is the custodian of the Society house, as well as the nation’s second oldest Little Theater and Pultneyville’s Centennial Park. Nanette explains how the organization is constantly working for inclusivity, including a collaboration between the school district and the historical society. She shares how the society is promoting their exhibits and programs, and some of the programs the society has recently shared including one featuring a well-known children’s book illustrator. She discusses the society’s efforts to reach out to new audiences through community outreach and education. Nanette also shares how the society is more aggressively using social media, and she talks about the success they have found through digital outreach. The Society house is becoming a part of local historical trails as an effort to more fully integrate into the travel fabric of the community, and she talks about efforts to grow the society’s membership and discover new members and visitors.

Hyde Hall

Jonathan Maney describes the history of Hyde Hall in Cooperstown, New York, a fifty-room British-American limestone mansion with a remarkable view and a fascinating history. Jonathan explains how inclusivity at Hyde House goes beyond accessibility for physically impaired guests to also include a variety of programs and events with an intent for outreach. He describes a partnership with the Cooperstown Graduate Program that engages the students to do research and conduct interviews with people who worked at Hyde Hall. He shares how Hyde Hall has been working with Cornell University to digitize the Clarke Family documents and share them online. He also discusses how events have been key to attracting diverse audiences and younger people. He explains how Hyde Hall is working to restore its kitchens and ultimately offer cooking classes there, and he shares efforts to create an engaging experience for visitors. Jonathan also explains efforts to partner with other museums, festivals, restaurants and historic hotels in the area. Jonathan explore the importance of working with local craftspeople to restore the original lighting that was used in the home in the 1800s, and how the lighting has been a significant factor in creating an authentic, memorable experience for visitors. He shares how the lighting and atmosphere of Hyde Hall have made it a significant filming location for major TV series and movies.

The Vestal Museum

Cherese Wiesner-Rosales discusses the role the Vestal Museum, a former train depot converted into a museum, plays in preserving the culture and history of the town of Vestal, New York. She shares the museum’s efforts to promote inclusivity by engaging the history of the local Native American tribe and creating an exhibit, as well as a lacrosse exhibit to draw in new audiences. Cherese explains  how the museum is working to become a living space, music and art venue and a draw to many different ages and cultures. She discusses how the museum is working to become a tourism anchor for Vestal, including making efforts to move the museum back to its original location and create a proper historic district for the town. She shares the effort the museum is making to build funds and develop grants to physically move the museum in the future.

Overview

For each of these organizations and destinations, thinking outside the box and leaning into the distinctive characteristics and offerings that make these locations unique has been instrumental for helping engage new audiences and expanding their reach. Ongoing inclusivity efforts through programs and exhibits that connect the history of these locations to the diverse society we live in today have been an important part of their efforts as well. A broad selection of programs that engage many different kinds of people across ages and ethnic backgrounds will be instrumental in their continued audience-building success going forward, truly highlighting the important role inclusivity can play for the travel and tourism industry at large..

Resources:

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May 22, 2019

David Gilbert serves as president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, an organization dedicated to making Greater Cleveland a premier destination for amateur sporting events, and Destination Cleveland, the region’s convention and visitors bureau.

The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission is responsible for attracting, promoting, and managing major amateur athletic events, and for creating sporting opportunities for youth and amateur athletes. Since 2000 the organization has attracted or created more than 190 events, including 25 NCAA championship competitions. These events have contributed more than $570 million in local economic impact.

At Destination Cleveland, David is responsible for carrying out the organization’s mission to drive economic impact and stimulate community vitality by positioning and promoting Cleveland as an exciting, vibrant destination. Among many accomplishments, they notably landed the 2016 Republican National Convention. David serves as vice president on the board of the International Children’s Games based in Leucine, Switzerland, and sits on the boards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Greater Cleveland Film Commissionand the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.

He was named by Crain’s Cleveland Business as one of Cleveland’s 30 top influencers of the past 30 years, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and in 2016 he received the SME Cleveland Business Executive of the Year award.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with David about making destination marketing more entrepreneurial and working more strategically at creating a unified brand experience. All destinations have unique challenges. How do you encourage locals to promote tourism? How do you reach out to potential visitors and make your destination their top choice? David and Cleveland have faced some unique challenges and found some remarkable solutions.

 

What You Will Learn on This Episode:

  • Why DMOs need to become more entrepreneurial
  • The many ways tourism and economic development intersect
  • How to shape the perception of your destination
  • How to be more strategic in your tourism branding
  • Ways to create stronger alliances between DMOs and stakeholders

We’re All in This Together

Unless you’re a literal island, no travel and tourism entity can afford to function as an island unto themselves. When organizations think that way, everyone suffers.

Part of the challenge David faced was to help all the various cultural institutions, museums, sports teams, and local legends to realize they were part of a broader ecosystem. Together, they could accomplish far more than they could alone. But local DMOs also need to make sure all these groups understand the value a DMO can add- then the DMO needs to deliver.

Brand Perception

“Yeah, but you’re Cleveland.” A decade ago, Cleveland had a perception problem. Outsiders had a visceral (read: negative) reaction to the name. A significant portion of the population would not recommend it as a place to visit for friends and family. As you can imagine, that is a LOT to overcome.

But overcome they did. David and Nicole explore how he and the team at This is Cleveland flipped the script. They did it through some very deliberate steps in reshaping the City of Cleveland brand in a way that was both authentic and positive. “If it’s not real, and if you don’t deliver on the brand promise, everyone will be able to see that.” David shared. There is some great conversation about finding the promise of your brand and then living up to it.

To sum it up, David says, “You don’t have a brand for different audiences. A brand is a collection of stories about who you are. And if you hit it on the mark, that’s not going to change. The way you deliver it might change, but the brand will not change.”

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

May 20, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How the Albany County Historical Association is making efforts to become more inclusive by including the stories of the slaves and, later, the immigrant domestic servants who lived in the historic home
  • How the 9/11 Memorial and Museum works to honor all who lost their lives in the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks as well as the February 26, 1993, World Trade Center attack, and to preserve the history of those significant events
  • How Fort Ticonderoga works to provide a remarkable two-day destination experience for its visitors, and to promote education and the preservation of its historical heritage and military significance while supporting the region economically
  • How the National Museum of the American Indian established in 1916 became a part of the Smithsonian in 1989, and how its mission is to both preserve the history of Native Americans as well as to educate people about Native American life today
  • How the Hudson River Museum hosts numerous events dedicated to the arts and sciences within the historic home, planetarium, amphitheater, and galleries devoted to arts and environmental sciences

The Albany County Historical Association

Samantha Hall-Saladino shares the history of the Albany County Historical Association, housed in a historic home in Albany, New York. She discusses the efforts the Association is making to promote inclusivity by telling the stories of the slaves and immigrants who at one time lived in the home. She discusses the difficulty of making the entire house accessible for everyone and shares details of the virtual tour that will allow guests to view the second floor of the home in a virtual setting if they are unable to go to the second floor in person. She shares efforts to attract new audiences to the site, including key cross-promotion partnerships. She discusses exciting future opportunities for the mansion to continue its growth and community engagement.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum

Any Weinstein shares the mission of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to honor the lives lost in the terrorist attacks as well as to document and preserve the story of those attacks. She shares how the Memorial is working to honor all of the first responders and others who became sick due to chemical exposures on that day, as well as anyone who helped with the city of New York’s recovery efforts. She shares how inclusivity has always been a part of the Memorial as people from all walks of life were affected by the terrorist attacks. She shares details of their new Memorial Glade and its designers, and the symbolism surrounding it. She discusses maintaining the Memorial as a place of honor and as a reminder of the past. She talks about the upcoming 20-year anniversary of the attacks that will take place in 2021, and she shares how the staff has been discussing plans to commemorate the significant date.

Fort Ticonderoga

Beth Hill shares the historical significance of Fort Ticonderoga and discusses their efforts to preserve the Fort as an important site of military history. She discusses the unique upcoming opportunity Fort Ticonderoga will have to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. She shares how Fort Ticonderoga is working to create programs dedicated to women and people of color who served in the military, and she talks about why accessibility and inclusion have been of vital importance to their work. Beth discusses why families, not history buffs, are their largest audience, and she talks about building marketing and programs around visiting families. She shares some of the audience outreach work the Fort has been doing. She discusses the Fort serving as a major tourism anchor for the region and shares the economic impact the Fort has brought to the region, and she shares the importance of supporting the local community’s infrastructure development and the partnership opportunities that has brought. She shares future opportunities to expand the reach of Fort Ticonderoga.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Joshua Voda outlines the history of the Museum of the American Indian and explains why one of its important missions is to remind people that, while the history of Native Americans is a rich one, Native American life continues today and isn’t entirely represented by the history we know. Joshua discusses the role inclusivity plays in the mission of the museum, and he shares how the museum works to dispel stereotypes and steer people toward a better understanding of the impact Native Americans have had on all aspects of American history. He shares efforts the museum has made to attract new audiences, including opening the new STEM-focused “Imaginations Activity Center.” He shares details of an exhibit the museum is working on to showcase the Native American history of the New York area. He discusses outreach efforts to help teachers bring knowledge from the museum directly into their classrooms.

The Hudson River Museum

Araya Henry shares the many diverse and multi-disciplinary functions the Hudson River Museum serves, dedicated to both art and science. She outlines inclusivity efforts the museum makes through programs dedicated to teens of all ethnic, educational and economic backgrounds. Araya shares partnership efforts the museum is making to build their audience, including collaborations with nearby museums and cultural sites for cross-promotion and with local businesses to offer mutual discounts. She shares the future opportunities the future is looking to, including working with the local school system and becoming a part of the curriculum for local students. She discusses the local LGBTQ+ Advisory Board and the opportunities for partnerships and promotion that it represents for the museum.

Overview

Each of these organizations has turned to marketing and partnership opportunities as a crucial component to fuel their growth and reach. Working with area schools and offering new educational opportunities has been one avenue for success for many of these museums and historical sites. Developing and promoting inclusive programs and reaching out to different groups of people from all backgrounds have been equally important. A prevailing theme from each of these conversations is that travel and tourism sites such as museums, historical and cultural organizations can only benefit from working together, and the region-wide travel and economic impact these partnerships can create are dramatic and beneficial for everyone.

Resources:

May 15, 2019

For more than 25 years, Robert Rose has helped clients tell their story more effectively through digital media. As the founder of the Content Advisory, the education and consulting group for the Content Marketing Institute, Robert has worked with more than 500 companies, including 15 of the Fortune 100.

He has provided strategic marketing advice and counsel for global brands such as Capital One NASA, Dell, McCormick Spices, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I’m very excited to bring this episode to you today. He has written several books with CMI colleague, Joe Pulizzi, including Killing Marketing and Content Inc.

On this episode of Destination the Left, I talk with Robert about how the travel and tourism industry can capitalize on and improve our content marketing work. How do you nurture and build trust with your audience? How do you increase your role as a go-to resource for information about the region or entity you serve? We talk about that and more in this stellar, news-you-can-use conversation.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to go miles deeper as a thought leader compared to your competition
  • How to acquire an audience and build trust
  • Becoming a reliable source of information for your travel/tourism customer
  • Why social media followers are not your addressable audience
  • Whether content marketing is part of your marketing strategy or is your marketing strategy
  • How to increase the value of your contact to impact buying decisions

Creating Subscribers

One of the interesting twists Robert brought to the conversation was about subscribers. The goal of content marketing is to create subscribers. He says, “When we think about a Facebook follower, or a podcast listener, or a Twitter follower, that is not an addressable audience. You are still depending on someone else’s algorithm to put our message of trust in front of that audience. A subscriber is something different. They see that post on Instagram or that great post you wrote, yes. But a subscriber is someone who signs up after reading one of those things, not for the thing they got, but for the things that they’re going to get from you down the road.”

Buyer’s Journey

Another piece of the conversation with Robert focused on the buyer’s journey. In your work, what is the buyer’s journey from awareness to purchase? The art of content marketing is understanding when to reach out to the potential buyer and what information or ideas to present at that point in their buying decision.

With the right kinds of engagement, awareness becomes engagement and engagement becomes a trip to your destination, and they guest sharing that experience with their social networks, and maybe even returning again.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

May 13, 2019

We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.

In this episode, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How and why the Russian History Museum came to be found in the unlikely setting of Jordanville, NY, and what valuable cultural purpose it serves
  • How the Phelps Mansion, built in 1870 in Binghamton, NY, was established as a museum in 2005 in an effort to preserve the last home of its kind on what was at one time referred to as “Mansion Row”
  • Why Don Papson and his wife founded the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, NY to honor and preserve the history of the Underground Railroads after a chance conversation in a grocery store
  • How the Old Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron, NY is helping preserve and promote the important historic and economic impact of the New York State canals

The Russian History Museum

Michael Perekrestov discusses the 1930 founding of the Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, New York, by religious and political refugees from the Soviet Union after the Russian Revolution. Michael explains why the Monastery became a center of Russian history and culture within the United States, and he shares how the Russian History Museum came about in an effort to preserve the wealth of Russian artifacts that were kept at the Monastery. He explains how the museum is working to raise awareness and shares the initiatives the museum is taking to expand their audience through partnerships with other museums nationally and internationally. He outlines the opportunities he sees for the museum to engage with the local tourism industry in a mutually beneficial way, and he shares his plans for the future of the museum, including efforts to utilize social media as a way to bring the museum to a “virtual audience” all over the world.

The Phelps Mansion Museum

Toby Manker shares the unique history of the Phelps Mansion in Binghamton, New York, and discusses the challenge and opportunity of turning a relatively small home into a thriving museum. Toby discusses how population and income decline in Binghamton have been an obstacle in bringing in new visitors, and she shares how a wide variety of program offerings has helped work around this problem. She expresses her views on inclusivity and shares how the museum has been able to accomplish a lot on a small budget and with a staff of two. She discusses audience outreach initiatives and talks about how the museum’s primary audience is out-of-town visitors brought to the museum by way of TripAdvisor, and she shares how the museum interacts with the Path Through History Weekend to connect to other tourism drivers. Toby discusses working with university students and partnering with the university’s music department.

The North Star Underground Railroad Museum

Don Papson discusses the founding of the North Star Underground Railroad Museum in Ausable Chasm, New York, after a chance conversation in a grocery store. He shares why he believes in preserving the history of the Underground Railroad, and he discusses the importance of having a diverse organization. He shares the profound story of a six-year-old visitor from a biracial family who was deeply appreciative of her visit to the museum. He discusses the untold history of the Chinese Underground Railroad and the work his museum has done to create an exhibit telling the forgotten story and its historical significance. He shares how the historical context of the Underground Railroads is echoed in the divisive political climate of today. Don discusses the efforts his museum is taking to promote itself and reach out to young people, and he shares how the museum is coordinating efforts with the local tourism industry for cross-promotion.

The Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park

Mary Riley discusses the unique partnership with the state that is supporting the Old Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron, New York, and she shares the park’s mission to help educate visitors and preserve the vital history of the Old Erie Canal and other canals throughout New York. She discusses the pilot program the park is involved in to demonstrate how states can work directly with historic sites. Mary shares how the park promotes inclusivity through making their sites handicap-accessible, designating the park as dog-friendly and providing treats and water for canine visitors, offering printed guide books for hearing-impaired people who are unable to take the audio tour and providing wheelchair-accessible picnic tables for visitors. Mary shares how roadside visitors account for many of their first-time guests, and she discusses working with local tourism destinations to be an addition to visitors’ trips. She discusses future opportunities for growth and expansion of the park.

Overview

Through each of these interviews, a common theme has been the importance of inclusivity efforts and outreach programs as a way to bring the message of these museums and historical sites to as many people as possible. For smaller or more out-of-the-way locations, social media and the internet can be an especially valuable way to get the word out. Likewise, partnerships with other destinations and local tourism hotspots can help generate new visitors and bring in new audiences. These four unique organizations have truly demonstrated that when travel and tourism destinations work together, everyone benefits.

Resources:

May 8, 2019

Andrea McHugh is the senior communications manager for Discover Newport in Rhode Island. Andrea has been in the media and communication space for more than 20 years. Her experience as a magazine editor, copywriter and regular contributor to regional national, an international newspapers, magazines, and websites give her a unique and first-person perspective when serving her organization.

In her role as senior communications manager at Discover Newport, the official Destination Marketing Organization for Newport and Bristol counties in Rhode Island, she has developed a comprehensive communication strategy ranging from amplifying key messages with media to conducting and coordinating all internal and external communications.

Andrea was recognized by Providence Business news 40 Under Forty program and has served on the boards of PRSA Southern New England, and Habitat for Humanity, the editorial board of Engage Newport and the Marketing Committee of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. She had spoken both as a presenter and panelist and multiple topics including public relations, communications, brand awareness and development, social media and more.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Andrea McHugh about challenges that come during the off-season and when local officials are skeptical about the value of tourism. There is also so much opportunity out there right now. When tailwinds are strong, how do you capitalize on that momentum? Listen in and find out.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to embrace and market your off-season
  • Making locals your allies in destination marketing
  • Working with local officials to educate on the benefits of tourism
  • Looking well beyond your region for tourism partnerships
  • How to manage the ebb and flow of visitors with greater consistency

Follow the Money

Sometimes local politicians do not see the value in supporting tourism. But when you show them the tax revenue generated, that makes the case for you. Andrea shared how, in her words, “Part of that solution is constantly sharing the data about the economic impact of tourism. In tourism, we can see exactly where the taxes have grown and when there’s an opportunity.”

This education is not once and done. As new officials come into the office, the data needs to be shared and the case made all over again.

Thinking Outside Your Region

Sometimes opportunity for cross-pollination happens far from your back yard. When Bermuda, New York, and Co, and Destination Newport discovered they were all hosting sailing regattas, they decided to connect those dots for potential visitors who follow that distinctive recreational activity.

What opportunities are there for your destination to partner with other places hosting similar events or attracting similar visitors? That can be a great form of coopetition!

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

 
May 1, 2019

As a native of Utah, Jason grew up visiting the National Parks, Monuments, and other regions throughout the Western United States. That is where he first fell in love with the history and geology of the area.

As he grew up, he continued to enrich his education and knowledge at nature camps and class trips throughout the Southwest. One of his favorite trips was down to Havasupai Falls and the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. Even when he attended college in California, he continued to enjoy the diverse geological and ecological environments nearby.

He has enjoyed camping, hiking, backpacking, and touring throughout the west for the last 20 years. One of his greatest loves is sharing his passion for the history, geology, and beauty of the Southwestern United States with the tours he hosts.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jason about his experience building an adventure tour operation from scratch over the past six years. With tours running all over the southwestern United States (and now in Oregon!) it’s all about relationship-building. From customers to guides, to all those involved with making these unique experiences happen, building relationship and building trust have been the key to success.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Tips for hiring the best client-facing employees
  • How to create an environment of constant improvement
  • Staying connected to customers as you grow
  • The little things you can do to create “Wow!” experiences
  • Building great relationships with DMOs and vendors
  • Why trust is such a crucial ingredient to success in this business

From Point A to Point B

For large tours on the open road, there is a ready solution: buses made specifically for the travel industry. For smaller group tours, Jason was not finding the right mode of transportation. Bench seats in an Econoline might work for very short distances, but not for a 5 to 12-day trip. Through dedication, research, and customization, Jason finally found the right van and now the comfort of travel is remarked on by customers almost as much as the destinations.

That kind of attention to customer experience can set your company apart from the competition. When you’re in a business where the journey is literally as important as the destination, everything that happens between point A and points B becomes important.

Navigating the Travel Ecosystem

As a tour operator, Jason relies on DMOs for information and broader marketing initiatives. He relies on service providers like river rafting companies and glamping outfitters – who could easily undercut him and steal customers away.

It all comes down to trust. That’s why developing relationships is important, from customers to all the players in the travel ecosystem. When you know and trust each other, the opportunity to cooperate gives everyone a fair shake. Wrestling for the same clientele can be nerve-wracking, but you have to put yourself out there and find the people and organizations that are a good fit.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Apr 24, 2019

Paul Leone began his career as a multi-media producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. He soon moved on to editing, shooting, and producing several series for cable television and later worked in the studio, agency, and advertising industry. As a TV producer, he wrote and developed several television pilots on American craft beer, the first few hosted by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Although they were never picked up, he discovered his passion for craft beer and knew what he wanted to do as a career moving forward. From 2008-2013, he hosted Beer America TV with John Pinkerton of Moon River Brewing and today, Paul is the Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association. Since starting, Paul has seen New York’s brewing industry double in size, many new laws passed and has met hundreds of incredible and passionate brewers all over the state and country.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Paul about how attractive hyper-local experiences are, but how they can be a challenge to market beyond a region. They also dig into how craft brewing has grown and has become a major attraction in tourism for many regions.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to market hyper-local experiences
  • Why craft beverages fit well in the tourism category
  • The economic impact craft beverage has on the local tourism economy
  • How to toot your own horn you are not top-of-mind in your category
  • Event marketing that connects with visitors

The Economic Impact of Beer

It is no big surprise that beer is important to people- it’s important to economies. But to understand the economic impact on local economies, and the tourism dollars pumped into local economies, a study needed to be done. That’s where the New York State Brewer’s Association comes in and the numbers are impressive for the craft beer industry.

In New York State alone, the economic impact is 5.4 billion dollars in economic impact. Brewers employ 20,000 people across the state and craft brewing creates a $317 million impact on tourism. If those wine and brewery trails are paying off in your region, you are definitely not alone. Craft brewing is big business, spread across small businesses throughout any given region. It matters in a big way to the tourism industry in particular.

Marketing the Hyper-Local

Visitors love the local flavor and nothing offers local flavor better than a cold, locally crafted beer. But how do you let potential visitors know all that local flavor – whether beer, wine, or some other regional specialty or recreation activity? That is the challenge Paul was facing New York State’s multi-faceted craft-brewery industry.

Beer Festivals have been a recent focal point. Paul noticed that many festivals were run by distributors – people got a variety of beer for their festival ticket, but they didn’t get any real connection with the people who actually crafted that beer.

Bringing the brewers right to the festival makes all the difference – to the point where they didn’t need musical entertainment anymore! By focusing on the brewers, festivals have become even more of a draw, and the hyper-local flavors are described by the people who actually make them.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Apr 17, 2019

Bob Provost, president, and CEO of New York Tourism and Industry Association (NSYSTIA) has been pretty much everywhere in New York State, from Long Island to the Thousand Islands. He currently resides on a small farm in northern Rensselaer County. When Bob joined NYSTIA as a member in early 2017 he had no idea he would be joining the staff as president and CEO in September of 2018. He felt that there was tremendous potential yet to be realized in the organization and terrific people to work with.

Prior to joining NYSTIA, Bob enjoyed success as chief marketing officer with the Hearst newspapers in Albany, New York from 1987 to 2005. He then served as CMO of the Star-Ledger, Newjersey.com. During his time there, Bob campaigned for a more structured, proactive tourism infrastructure in the Garden State.

In 2015 Bob transitioned from his role as a media executive to become president and CEO of the Greater Newark Convention and Visitors Bureau where he dramatically upgraded digital marketing and international outreach, achieving increases in occupancy, average daily rate, and welcome the first new hotels in that market in decades. Bob has worked with students throughout his career as a faculty member at Sienna College and Rutgers Business School, and with hundreds of interns. He has served on the boards of many institutions, colleges, cultural and arts organizations, chambers and CVBS, as well as social service organizations.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Bob about the economic impact of tourism, and how to really listen to residents and help them understand and embrace the positive impact of tourism. He says, improve the visitor experience and you will improve the resident experience. Find out how to get neighbors and business owners on board and treat tourism as the economic development engine it is.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why best practices are more important than industry experience
  • How to help a community understand that good tourism means an economically healthy community
  • How internships from outside hospitality can be a win-win
  • The 8 Ps of Tourism Marketing
  • The importance of embracing change as communities and tourism itself evolves

Tourism as Economic Development

Too often, the wider economic impact of tourism is overlooked by residents. Bob wants to change that by helping people involved in tourism change the narrative. Bob shares how if your tourism sector is successful, then you will have revitalized downtowns in small towns as well as jobs and small business success.

Tourism also reduces their tax burden and increases employment opportunities. It enhances the quality of life choices that are available to them by supporting restaurants, attractions, and other leisure opportunities. Bob wants the business community to understand how they can hitch their wagon to that visitor economy and increased sales and success.

Embracing Change

Bob ended our conversation with this message: “I’m a big believer that healthy organizations are very much like healthy organisms. They need to embrace evolutionary change or they will not survive the competition of the fittest.”

If you don’t evolve, change is going to be a lot more traumatic. Making a smaller, incremental change on a consistent basis allows you to move forward as an organization and thrive. That’s the philosophy he is embracing for NYSTIA and one that we all have had to learn – hopefully not the hard way!

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Apr 10, 2019

Jennifer Barbee is a serial entrepreneur, professional speaker, and all-around boss. Jennifer and her partner Kristen created the agency Destination Innovate in 2017, in addition to running to successful digital branding agencies. She has been named Stevie® Female Entrepreneur of 2013, 2014 in Advertising/Media/PR (U.S. and Europe), ranked #17 in StartUp Nation’s® Top 100 Moms in Business and has represented some of the country’s leading brands, affectionately dubbing her the “dot com diva” and the “Harvard of Internet and Travel”.

Jennifer wows crowds with her unique brand of humor and real talk. She is a tireless advocate of women entrepreneurs and regularly hosts success schools and offers private coaching. She continues to offer her digital strategy expertise to consulting and speaking at conferences around the world.

Jennifer is also a mom of four and is an avid coffee and mimosa enthusiast.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jennifer about risk-taking in travel marketing. It may push our comfort levels, but it can pay big dividends compared with the status quo. We also talk through some great marketing strategies and tactics you can start using right away – from Facebook tools to DMOs.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The importance of calculated risk-taking
  • Finding the gaps in marketing that others are not exploring, and getting there first
  • Taking advantage of “now” opportunities, not non-existent “forever” strategies
  • How to bring gender equity to leadership roles in the travel industry
  • Ingredients for successful collaboration
  • How DMOs can share with smaller stakeholders marketing secrets they can use themselves

Embracing Risk

Expedia and Travelocity took big risks if you can remember back to those early days of the internet. Millennials, just sit back and let us tell you the story. At the dawn of the 21st Century, a flight and hotel aggregator was literally wishful thinking. Jennifer talks about how Expedia and Travelocity took that wishful thinking and some great coding expertise and created some dramatic disruption in the industry.

Jennifer invites us to not be afraid of risk. There are so many calculated small risks you can take to make a bigger impact with your marketing budget, like putting the story in the hands of the visitor. She offers some great examples of personality-driven websites that target a specific segment you want to attract. When a visitor tells you what they like, you can target the right message that engages, building a relationship, and bumps up your visitation numbers.

Travel Marketing Hacks

We also discuss a fascinating social media hack destination marketers can use. It’s great for large organizations but even better for the smaller hotel or attraction. It’s a really great platform for the small BNB or the small hotel owner who only has 20 or 60 rooms to take control of the booking. You can do a double dip there, building awareness and doing good in marketing, but also utilizing a booking engine with no fees attached. We dig into the specifics of how you can make this happen on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Jennifer is an amazing resource who is always willing to ask tough questions, give unexpected answers, and generally get the conversation to the level where big ideas can turn into action that makes a real difference in your organization.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Apr 3, 2019

Colleen Onuffer is a consultant at Break the Ice Media and vital part of the team. She uses her passion for writing and storytelling in her role here to make a big impact for her clients. Since her start in 2016, Colleen has helped her clients find their essential stories and develop targeted messages.

Colleen enjoys making new travel media contacts by participating in travel shows, like Discover America Day and I Love New York Media Marketplace. She loves exploring travel trends by attending conferences likes the one provided by the New York State Tourism Industry Association.

This episode of Destination on the Left is a team cast, in which I talk with Colleen about influencer marketing. What is it, and how can you best use it to bring more visitors to your destination? Colleen has literally written the book on this, working with the Break the Ice team on a new ebook on the subject.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why working with an influencer is different from working with a traditional travel journalist
  • How to understand and set expectations for an influencer you work with
  • Why the number of followers is not the best metric to use in deciding which influencer to work with
  • How to find the right influencer “match” for your destination
  • How influencers can help you reach a new or underserved market for your destination

Is Your Destination Right for Influencer Marketing?

Working with influencers may or may not be a fit for every destination. But it can be an incredibly powerful way of making a big impact through the social media pull of that influencer. Colleen and I talk about how to vet influencers to match the audience you are trying to reach. Who is their audience? What is the level of engagement they receive? If they post content and don’t get much response, they might not deliver the bang your buck that you are looking for.

Understand that sometimes an influencer will come to a destination for the comped travel package alone, but some will be looking for financial compensation. This is how they earn a living, after all. Be ready to know your own budget for the project and be willing to discuss the deliverables you expect for an agreed-on price.

Working With An Influencer

Influencers are looking for a different experience than a traditional travel journalist. Understanding each other’s expectations will make the experience a benefit to you both. For most influencers, capturing great images is the key, so itineraries tend to be more fluid. They need time to get a shot of a gorge or a sunset, or whatever they find interesting about your destination.

To make the most of the opportunity, make sure to supply them with hashtags and links to deals or resources that point the influencer’s followers back to your destination. The impact could be felt months or even years after the influencer has come and gone. Being able to track who expressed interest and who actually booked a visit will help you measure the success of your influencer marketing projects.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Mar 27, 2019

Sally Berry is a tourism industry expert who helps Destination Marketing Organizations prepare their destinations to be more competitive and attractions bring in more visitors.

Sally has worked at a small family-owned attraction, a regional DMO and at the Corning Museum of Glass, a world-class museum in New York. She has spent time as a tour operator and also an adjunct college professor at Paul Smiths Travel and Tourism program. She now runs her own tourism consulting and training company.

Sally was named one of the Top Ten Most Influential Women in the Group Tour industry from Groups Today magazine, May 2016, and a Top 20 Tourism Professional in the U.S. by TourOperator.com, 2015. She served as a board member of the U.S. Travel’s Experience Network, formerly known as the Attractions Council.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Sally and I talk about the opportunities and challenges in the international tour group space, especially the China market. Her experience gives her insight into not only the growing market in Chinese tour groups and FITs but how to nurture relationships with tour operators and guides. She also offers some great tips on using relationship-building tools and social media to connect with these markets.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • Maximizing marketing time and dollars on your best clients and markets
  • How to manage international and domestic segments of your visitor base
  • How to make it easy for tour operators to choose your destination
  • Why the China market needs to be on your radar
  • Best practices for treating tour guides right

Narrow Your Focus

It’s tempting to just cast your nets wide and hope to catch a lot of travelers to your destination. But Sally encourages attractions and destinations to use the 80/20 rule. Find out who your top market segments or top repeat tour clients are, and focus 80 percent marketing time and energy on those groups.

Narrowing your focus will sharpen your message and deepen your relationships with those groups. Sally has found that narrowing your focus actually increases traffic and dollars to your destination.

China Market

You might not think the market for Chinese tour groups is a good fit for your location. In the past, if you were beyond the “golden triangles” in the northeastern US or California in the west, the China market was a long shot. But Sally is seeing that change as more Chinese people look to travel and expand beyond those traditional areas of interest.

Sally and I discuss a hugely popular Chinese social networking platform called WeChat, a huge tool for understanding and interacting with people and groups in the China market.

There is a lot more great food for thought in this conversation. Sally suggests finding partners in the destinations guests are coming from and going to when they visit your attraction. But, also looking for partnerships with groups you might not think of at first. There is a world of co-opetition out there to explore and make use of.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

We value your thoughts and feedback and would love to hear from you. Leave us a review on your favorite streaming platform to let us know what you want to hear more of. Here is a quick tutorial on how to leave us a rating and review on iTunes!: https://breaktheicemedia.com/rating-review/

Mar 20, 2019

Connie Stopher serves as Executive Director of the Southern Idaho Economic Development Organization. In this role, she oversees the business and talent recruitment for a seven-county region. Since taking on the role of executive director in 2017, the southern Idaho region has experienced nearly $500 million in business expansions and nearly thousands of new jobs created.

Previously, Connie served as the executive director of the South Coast Development Council in Coos Bay, Oregon, and as the economic development specialist at Bannock Development in Pocatello, Idaho. In both of those roles, Connie enjoyed the opportunity to create new business retention and expansion programs that helped revitalize struggling communities and assist existing and new businesses.

Melissa Barry is the Executive Director of Southern Idaho Tourism. She is responsible for developing and promoting tourism and recreation in southern Idaho and helping to strike the balance between economic impact and environmental stewardship. Since taking the leadership role at Southern Idaho Tourism, lodging collections have risen from historically flat numbers to double-digit increases. Southern Idaho Tourism, has received multiple national press stories, and partner approval rating is at 94 percent.

Prior to joining Southern Idaho Tourism, Melissa managed the marketing department at Cabela’s, the world’s foremost outfitter.

On this episode, I talk with Connie and Melissa about how tourism and economic development go hand-in-hand, and some specific partnerships that they have forged in their region. From recruiting people to live and work to inviting visitors without damaging the natural resources that draw people to a region in the first place, working together with all potential stakeholders is the only way to really get the job done.

 

What You Will Learn on this Episode:

  • A “best-kept secret” pitch for talent recruitment 
  • Strategies you can use to marketing your region
  • How to get locals to become tourism cheerleaders
  • Ways stakeholders can manage visitor impact on natural resources
  • How to grow tourism in rural areas

Tourism as Economic Driver

Tourism and economic development can get siloed, hampering the collaboration that can happen and boost a region economically. For Connie and Melissa, that means working together. For instance, they might combine their video promotion budgets to create a better end product than each could have done separately. Or what if tourism agencies and local chambers of commerce work in conjunction with each other? In some areas, this is a stretch, but it shouldn’t be. There is a synergy that can happen when local communities welcome visitors, new residents, and new businesses to the region. When all of that happens together, communities thrive.

Tourism in Rural Areas

Why would anyone want to visit? That can be the sentiment from locals who don’t realize the beauty and wonder of their own backyard. Connie and Melissa share how sometimes they need a little bit of help in identifying the assets they have, even in the smallest of communities. It comes down to realizing that they have assets that are worthwhile for visitors to see and participate.

Resources:

Mar 13, 2019

Robin Boehler is a co-founder of international management consulting firm, Mercer Island Group. Mercer Island group is a prominent global marketing management consulting firm helping clients and agencies solve a broad range of business problems from building business and tough competitive markets, to creating strategic roadmaps, and matching the right clients and agencies for productive relationships, to name a few.

Robin’s unique ability to work with teams and help improve organizational productivity is the direct result of an eclectic background, including her degree in human development and family studies from Cornell University, several years of experience in elementary education, plus training and team building experiences across a myriad of industries, and extensive volunteerism experiences. She is a frequent speaker having presented and keynoted at events sponsored by the BMA, the four A’s, AMI, and others.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Robin Boehler about her wealth of experience in starting and maintaining vital client/agency relationships. How do you uncover what you need from a marketing agency or PR firm and finding the right fit? Robin’s wealth of experience and knowledge is on full display in this can’t miss episode.

 

Things to Consider When Choosing an Agency Partners

If you think you are not big enough for an agency to want to work with you, think again. Travel and tourism business is a desirable category for both regional and national marketing agencies.

How do you find an agency to work with? Robin’s advice is to start with introspection. Know your organization and what you need before you start looking at your next agency relationship. Know why you need an agency. What are you trying to solve? The reason that’s important is you need to know what business results you think will be improved by hiring an agency. Figuring out the right fit may take some time, but hopefully, you and this agency will be in it for the long haul. Take your time.

Network Your Way to a Good List

You don’t want to automatically go with the first agency you meet. Find out what they are like and what their strengths are and see if that fits with your needs. Do you need a good media buyer? Help with social media? Good creative? Whatever the scope of work, Robin suggests starting with a list of 20 and meeting with at least 5 before making a final decision on who to work with.

The goal is to take the mystery out of how this relationship is going to work. This isn’t a commodity that you’re buying. You’re buying strategic intelligent, creative assets from a group of people who will be thinking partners with you.

Resources:

Mar 6, 2019

Bill Geist is the Chief Instigator at DMOproZ, a firm specializing in strategic planning, governance, marketing, and legislative issues for convention and visitor bureaus, tourism-focused chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, and communities. Prior to forming DMOproZ, Bill served as the President/CEO of the Greater Madison (WI) Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Bill is the author of Destination Leadership and a contributor to Fundamentals in Destination Marketing. He has provided consulting services to over 200 DMOs since 1995 and is a popular speaker on marketing trends and destination development across North America.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I speak with Bill about the shifting role of the DMO. Marketing is just the tip of the iceberg. DMOs have a larger leadership role to play in the economic fortunes of the communities they serve. It starts with an attitude of service, of giving back.

What You Will Learn on this Episode:

  • Why DMOs need to speak up on economic development issues in your communities
  • The role of advocacy in DMO work
  • What DMOs can do better than the internet
  • Why understanding who you don’t appeal to is as important as understanding who you do appeal to
  • Why storytelling is only going to become more important in the work of DMOs
  • How to connect more with the community you serve as a DMO

Destination Leadership Organizations

Recently, we have begun discussing the expanding role that DMOs are playing and should play in their communities and now we’re thrilled to welcome a guest who has been promoting this conversation for a long time. Talk about great timing.

Bill talks with us about the evolution of destination marketing over the past decades, and the need for destination leadership. He relates some stories of economic development missteps that could have been avoided if DMOs has raised their voice – but they thought it wasn’t their place.

DMOs can be a critical conduit of information and stories that will help communities flourish and visitors fall in love and return again and again. This is a wonderful conversation on the leadership role DMOs can and should play.

It’s Not About Heads in Beds

Bill believes DMOs have often done a poor job of telling the story of their value to a community. At the end of the day, it’s not about heads in beds – what DMOs do is improve quality of life. They make their destination a better place to live.

It comes down to communication. DMO directors would love to hear from you, and the community is waiting for leaders to sit down and talk about what’s happening, what they can promote and what stories they can tell on your behalf. It’s a two-way street, but Bill Geist is encouraging DMOs to take the lead!

Resources:

Episode Transcript

Feb 27, 2019

Cassandra Harrington has served as the director of Destination Marketing Corporation for Otsego County for over a year. Prior to that, she was the director of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail and she started her marketing career as the membership development manager at the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce.

In her own words she is “learning the inner workings of the group travel industry as well as the intricacies of New York state matching funds, and who’s who in the igloo of the county, regional, and state tourism efforts.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Cassandra Harrington of the Otsego County Tourism board about sharing the tourism love beyond America’s pastime at Cooperstown. How is the role of DMOs changing? How best can you help visitors and locals alike embrace those changes and reap the benefits of visiting or living in a given region? That’s the conversation we’re having, join in!

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How local, regional and state DMOs can coordinate efforts and all win
  • How to encourage group tours to your region that are more than “party busses”
  • Using shoulder seasons to encourage savings on people’s travel budget
  • Ways to highlight both a “big draw” attraction as well as the “hidden treasures” in your region
  • How to encourage locals to embrace the economic engine of travel and tourism
  • Helping communities see the benefits of non-traditional lodging like AirBnB

#NextGenDMO

Cassandra is part of a growing trend of people who are coming into Destination Marketing Organizations from the attraction side of the travel industry. These newcomers have noticed the trend themselves and jokingly refer to the hashtag #NextGenDMO as they collaborate and experience their new roles together.

It’s safe to say the passion and sense of innovation they bring to their roles is welcome. As technology and the ways visitors experience a region change – for instance, not necessarily from a hotel room removed from town, but right in town, in your neighbor’s short term rental property – DMOs are challenged with drawing in these visitors and finding ways to extend their stay and make it as memorable as possible.

Attracting the Visitors and Engaging the Locals

Another trend we’re seeing is how DMOs are more and more filling the role, not just of attracting visitors, but getting locals excited about the economic opportunity and vitality that tourism brings to their home region.

This is happening in Otsego County, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame and many more hidden gems that visitors have come to love and locals have treasured for years. The rise in popularity of short term rentals means that visitors are living side-by-side with locals during their stay. Highlighting the long-term benefits in infrastructure improvements and other ways occupancy taxes of those visitors help the local economy has become part of the DMOs job description.

Resources:

Feb 20, 2019

Richard Arnold is the Director of Fun at Atlantic Travel and Tours. He is a graduate of Acadia University and has been with Atlantic since 1987.  He is also a member of the board of Travel Alliance Partners, where he serves as treasurer.

After working as an employee for many years, Richard took the plunge and purchased Atlantic Travel and Tours. He is a busy man- but he’ll be the first to tell you his first love is hosting the trips and being a tour director. Though his title is now Director of Fun, he still gets out in the field and leads trips from time to time. He says, “I want to be judged on the job, not on the fact that I am president of the company. At the end of the day, if I’m not doing my job, I need to hear it like any other tour manager.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Richard Arnold about his longtime experience in running tours in an around Nova Scotia and outbound tourism to the far reaches of the world. How has group travel changed? How can you stay competitive? How can you continue to make a profit and make promises like a guaranteed departure trip? We discuss answers to these questions and many more.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How to balance the people side of the business with the numbers side
  • How to make a guaranteed departure policy work, even with a low headcount
  • Partnering with “competitors” to run a larger, more profitable tour
  • The difference between what is most memorable and what makes people open their wallets in the first place
  • How to build greater tourism awareness in your destination community

Evolution of Group Touring

In the early 2000s, many thought the era of group touring was over. People want to follow their own path, conventional wisdom said. Richard thought something else was happening and developed what he calls “the illusion of choice.”

Part of this is about giving people a sense of having freedom of choice. When you offer options, Richard has found that most people default to joining the larger group anyhow. But you’ve empowered them with a choice, which is what travel consumers want these days.

Paying Attention to the “Wow”

Richard has uncovered a gem of wisdom in his 33 years in the industry- often the thing that caused a touring client to open their wallets in the first place is different from what they find most memorable about a tour. Be sure to pay attention to those “wow” factors that may not be the reason people initially book a trip, but what they get out of it in the end.

What “wows” one person might not “wow” another. The greater the customization you can offer (even in group tour offerings), the bigger the “wow”. Richard shows us how you can find ways to make any size tour for any length of time work, through strategic partnerships or just creative thinking and attention to your bottom line.

Resources:

Feb 13, 2019

Dr. Kirsten Ellenbogen brings more than 25 years of experience to her role as the third president of Great Lakes Science Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Kirsten’s energetic leadership during the last two decades has advanced informal STEM education. Her leadership activities at Great Lakes Science Center have included the launch of a new strategic initiative, Cleveland Creates, developed in collaboration with regional workforce development leaders to change the community’s manufacturing narrative through STEM education for middle school youth and families. Kirsten has worked at five museums during the past two decades and consulted for more than 30.

She is a founding leader of the Northeast Ohio STEM Ecosystem Collaborative and has been appointed to serve on the mayor’s steering committee on sustainability as well as the planning and Urban Design Committee of the Group Plan Commission. She holds a Ph.D. in science education from Vanderbilt University and a BA from the University of Chicago.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Dr. Kirsten Ellenbogen about science, city-wide collaboration, and national partnerships in museum tourism. Kirsten also breaks down the vast difference it makes when other institutions speak with each other and work together, instead of being adversarial.

 

 

What You Will Learn:

  • How to work with competitors to establish points of differentiation
  • The power of saying yes
  • How to manage a challenge to attendance in what should be your busiest season
  • Working with other community players to achieve and exceed expectations around a huge community event
  • How to maintain your roots as a beloved institution while also connecting with first-time visitors
  • Working with other nearby cultural institutions to create a wider “campus”
  • Cathedral thinking – Looking at tourism development from a generational perspective
  • How strategic plans bring focus to both what you are working on and what you are not working on

From a “No” Organization to a “Yes” Organization

Organizations get reputations. When you have a reputation for saying no, opportunities start to dry up, and you get stuck in a rut of doing the same things year after year. Saying yes can also have its challenges, like when your city is hosting a national political convention.

Kirsten talks about how to bring stakeholders together to think through the best ways to face the challenges and opportunities when you invite the nation into your town.

Cathedral Thinking

We also revisit a concept from another episode – Cathedral Thinking – as we explore what it means to be a cultural institution with a long view, and a view to contribute and participate fully in the community where you are situated.

Planning isn’t just about the next year or two, but about laying a foundation for generations to build on. That may sound grandiose, but when you are a cultural institution in a community rich with art, sports, music, and science attractions, taking the long view together is just good stewardship.

What foundations are you laying down for future generations?

Resources:

Feb 6, 2019

Tiffany Gallagher is eastern USA branch manager for Civitas, where she helps clients form and manage Tourism Improvement Districts. Throughout her career, she has shown a strong commitment to the tourism and business communities. Most recently she served as the President of the Greater Syracuse Hospitality and Tourism Association and currently serves on the New York State Hospitality and Tourism Board of Directors. Relevant experience also includes; serving on the Board of Directors of Destination Marketing Organizations, Strategic Planning Councils, and Business Improvement Districts. 

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Tiffany about how Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs) can create a public/private partnership that brings huge benefits to a travel region. These can be formed around hotel accommodations, wineries, breweries or ski resorts. TIDs create a stable funding stream and puts decision-making in the hands of industry leaders in the region.

What You Will Learn:

  • The role that Tourism Improvement Districts (TIDs) play in building a destination’s competitive advantage
  • How TIDs are getting more traction in the eastern United States
  • How to set up a TID as a legal entity
  • Why TIDs are a benefit to both the public and private sector in the district
  • The crucial role of relationships in DMOs, local government, and industry in a successful TID partnership
  • How to gather the general data needed and the buy-in to form a TID in your area
  • How a TID establishes a stable funding stream to market your region as a unique travel destination
  • Why there are no size requirements for establishing a TID – from one hotel to major cities
  • How TIDs can form around any travel-related industry (wine, brewery, skiing, etc.) that agrees to form one

When and Why to Form a TID

TIDs are an exciting concept that has been a big factor on the west coast of the US and are slowly growing in popularity across the eastern US.

What makes a TID such an attractive idea? The power, Tiffany tells us, is that this funding mechanism is championed by the industry. It is also managed and spent by the industry. TIDs are a stable form of marketing funding that hotels or other travel categories in a region can use until it doesn’t make sense anymore. If the payers are not benefitting, they can disband the TID.

How to Form a TID

A Tourism Improvement District is a legal entity. Tiffany has formed organizations as small as one hotel and as large as all the hotels in a mid-sized city. Relationships are key, as this is essentially a public/private partnership between local governments and the industry players in a given region.

Resources:

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