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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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May 19, 2021

Michael is a native of the Finger Lakes region. He was born in Rochester, NY but enjoyed an early childhood upbringing in Newport, RI (“America’s First Tourism Town”) to which he attributes his passion for hospitality.

Over his thirty-five-year career, he has had the pleasure and honor to serve as a Convention Sales Manager, Director of both Convention Services and Visitor Services for Visit Rochester (twice), sell and market to domestic and international groups for the Corning Museum of Glass, Top of The Rock at Rockefeller Center and as a VP for Group Sales Box Office/Broadway.com (both in NY, NY). His earliest accomplishments as a Patient Unit Secretary at Strong Hospital, Front Office Supervisor for Stouffer Hotels, and Event Manager for Casa Larga Vineyards are where he believes his desire to serve, delight, and exceed expectations for guests, people, peers, and friends-alike was crafted.

Recently, Michael continued his two-decade-long consulting business offerings to museums, attractions, municipalities, artists, and other family-owned and corporate clients as a resident in Chicago, IL. Just last year, in 2019, he went back to complete his Bachelor’s Degree from Rochester Institute of Technology finishing on the Dean’s List with 10 A’s for 5 in-class subjects and 5 online, a feat he is extremely proud of and happy to have finished (as were his mom and RIT friends, favorite faculty members, and fellow alum).

Destination on the Left is joined by Michael Hardy, the Executive Director of Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. On our podcast, Michael shares the key takeaways from his experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He talks about how the “no-event events” helped his community draw attention and visitors during the holidays. Michael also dives into the concept of “return on involvement” and explains why that is the best measurement for success in any organization. No matter what we have experienced thus far, there are many silver linings, and our conversation highlights some of them.

What You Will Learn:

  • The insights Michael has gleaned from his experience working in the tourism and hospitality industry
  • Watkins Glen’s “no-event event” concept and how it drove visitor traffic during the holidays
  • Why “return on involvement” is the best measure of success in any organization
  • The silver linings that have come out of the pandemic thus far
  • How Watkins Glen has used creativity and collaboration to stand out from the crowd
  • What tourism businesses can do to put together a more impactful guest experience

Watkins Glen, NY

Michael Hardy is the Executive Director of Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce. On our podcast, Michael shares the key takeaways from his experience in the tourism and hospitality industry. He talks about how the “no-event events” helped his community draw attention and visitors during the holidays. Michael also dives into the concept of “return on involvement” and explains why that is the best measurement for success in any organization. No matter what we have experienced thus far, there are many silver linings, and our conversation highlights some of the victories and struggles in Watkins Glen, NY.

The Many Faces of ROI

Michael has built an exemplary career in the travel and hospitality industry. He used each experience as a springboard to another, picking up a vast array of different skills along the way. From marketing and event planning to operations and customer experience design, Michael gained exposure to all facets of the industry, leading him to develop the idea of return on involvement. This concept is about identifying what visitors are getting for their time and money, then figuring out what you can do to add even more value to that experience through your involvement. In doing so, you will have yet another tool to separate your destination from the pack.

No-Event Events

The pandemic is waning, consumer confidence is increasing, and the tourism industry is rebounding. This leaves us with a unique problem that we haven’t had in quite some time—too many destinations to choose from. For destinations to compete in such a high-stakes arena, they have to reach deep within their ranks to find a sense of creativity and collaboration. One of the ways Michael and his team achieved this was through their Holiday Happenings campaign. This was the birth of their “no-event event” concept where destinations can build an event framework and fill it in with an agenda that meets the CDC and local government restrictions at the time the event takes place. Through this type of modular event planning, DMOs can stay light on their feet and adapt in real-time as health guidelines change.

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