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It Takes a Whole Community to Make a Destination
September 27, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
If we are to be ultimately successful as a tourism destination, we may need our engineering, retail, professional, wellness and service businesses.
What? What does that mean?
Traditional Packages Out?
Traditionally, a package that a hotel or motel would put together would talk about special rates and amenities that it would offer to the visitor. Sometimes, these special packages would also include working with other tourism related businesses such as ORDA and the Wild Center.
At the Tomorrow’s Tourism Conference held in the spring that was attended by a diverse variety of international, state and regional tourism officials, we heard loud and clear that today’s visitor is looking for a diverse experience made simple in one package. By ourselves, many of our small businesses and venues may be too small to offer all the activities and venues that family, outdoor enthusiasts and today’s traveler is looking for. Our small communities and smaller businesses may need to pool their resources to encourage that destination feel.
To be successful tourism officials noted that these diverse activities ranging from lodging choices, restaurants, retail, venues and events need to be put in one destination package.
This may also be an opportunity for our professional and service businesses.
Does a Car Garage Need to Brand?
When we travel to Disneyland or take one of their cruises, we marvel how everything right down to the Mickey Mouse vacuum cleaners reinforces the Disney brand. Now, I know what you are thinking, we do not want to be Disneyland. However, that does not mean we cannot “Adirondack-ize” some of their ideas.
Each of our communities shares the commonality of being a part of the Adirondacks. However, they are very different from one another. Lake Placid has a distinct history and even architecture that is different from the Saranac Lake wellness theme. We need to be sure that our professional and service businesses encourage those of us in the tourism trade to reinforce our community’s heritage.
A Community Concierge?
But I am thinking of a more direct relationship. We can all be a “community concierge” for each other.
For many small, independent tourism business owners, a full-time concierge is out of the question. Often, these small business owners are also the housekeepers, bookkeepers and maintenance staff.
We often don’t know what is right in front of us. There are so many events and activities taking place that in the spur of the moment between housekeeping and filing quarterly sales tax, we don’t always explain what all the options are to a visitor. We either become overwhelmed or they do by clicking through various websites or one too many brochures.
At the same time, our professional and service businesses often get the question as they are talking to their client, “What would you recommend…” and perhaps they too struggle to come up with a quick and comprehensive answer.
Tourism related businesses often do “FAM tours” or familiarization opportunities. However, often professional and service businesses are not invited. Likewise, for many of the tourism related marketing meetings, retail and service businesses often do not attend thinking “this has nothing to do with promoting my business.”
However, how many times does tourism related businesses get the question “Where can I get my car door unlocked, purchase supplies or need a service or wellness specialist”? How often have we stumbled on these non-tourism questions?
Is it possible to create a “Community Concierge” system? Perhaps the first step is to invite representatives from the broad spectrum of our business community to determine how we can learn what each other have to offer. There are numerous “familiarization” opportunities now with mixers and community websites and this may be a place to start.
A Community Destination Package?
But can we go one step further. Can we actually create a “Community Destination package”?
For example, a group of volunteers have come together to create a “Destination: Adirondack Winter – Come to the Adirondack’s Coolest Place!” The idea is to showcase our area as a winter destination by playing off the notoriety of our region as one of the coldest spots in the nation.
As today’s visitor is looking for that diverse experience, we are attempting to develop a “menu” of options ranging from activities to retail, lodging and restaurant specials. The group is also seeking to include other businesses such as wellness and arts related vendors. The goal is to take the strengths of our many individual and diverse businesses and put them in one simple package.
As a result of the Tomorrow’s Tourism Conference, if we can put this destination package together that crosses municipal lines and incorporates a diverse array of businesses, I Love New York and regional tourism agencies have agreed to help promote this.
It is a wonderful opportunity.
Would it not be great if we could extend this menu of options to include service and professional businesses?
During this “Destination: Adirondack Winter” we could also include for example, architectural firms who would be willing to do a workshop on Adirondack architecture or a wellness business on “Historically, How Did They Survive Adirondack Winters?” Is it possible for contractors to exhibit how Adirondack lean-to’s are built, service businesses on the history of chainsaws with chainsaw carvings and heating companies displaying heating systems from the 1800s to present? These can be simple brochures, displays or fun and interactive workshops. These may be joined by tourism related businesses such as restaurants to provide food and wine.
These may be poor examples but the point is to showcase ourselves as a destination may require all of those things that make us unique. Our service, professional an non-tourism related businesses are a part of this.
Tourism businesses may need to realize that professional and service businesses can be part of a “destination package.” Non-tourism businesses may need to consider that partnering as part of a tourist package, may help their business.
We are expecting our local governments to become more efficient by crossing municipal lines. Perhaps businesses need to break down their own barriers and stereotypes of who they are and who may be potential partners.
A start may be for representatives of our service, professional and retail businesses to attend an upcoming meeting currently being held to develop the “Destination: Adirondack Winter” package. For more information on this, you can e-mail me at MountainCommunityVisions@Live.com
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