LAKE PLEASANT - The Hamilton County Board of Supervisors on Thursday unanimously approved a proposal by the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism to facilitate the county's tourism marketing for one year.
The $250,000 contract includes $25,000 for administrative costs and starts Jan. 1, 2014.
"They're not an unknown quantity for us," county board Chairman and Morehouse town Supervisor Bill Farber said. "We've worked together with ROOST on the Adirondack Challenge ... so there's that working relationship, and ROOST obviously has enormous experience doing exactly what we need."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his whitewater rafting team compete in the Adirondack Challenge on the Indian River in July in the Hamilton County town of Indian Lake. The Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism helped coordinate the event.
(Photo courtesy of the governor’s office)
When Hamilton County Economic Development and Tourism Director Ann Melious - a former Lake Placid resident and director of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council - left her job earlier in the year and moved to California, supervisors began re-evaluating her position. The person she succeeded in January 2011, Bill Osborne, has been filling in temporarily.
There has always been a need to balance economic development and tourism marketing duties in the position, according to Farber, yet county leaders have continually found that economic development needed more attention. So they decided in September to split the position up, concentrating on economic development and planning duties locally and contracting out the tourism marketing.
Hamilton County received four requests for proposals for the tourism marketing, and members of the Tourism Committee reviewed them at their Oct. 29 meeting. A resolution supporting their recommendation - ROOST - was then placed on the Nov. 7 board meeting and approved by the eight supervisors (with one supervisor absent).
ROOST, which also goes by the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau, already provides tourism marketing for Essex County, plus the towns of North Elba and Harrietstown, and the villages of Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.
Adding Hamilton County to the mix was a no-brainer, according to ROOST Executive Director Jim McKenna. For one thing, the counties have a lot in common as smaller communities such as Long Lake and Schroon Lake are facing similar issues.
"Our organization certainly has the infrastructure in place right now that can serve Hamilton County well," McKenna said.
Essex and Hamilton are the only two counties located entirely within the Adirondack Park's Blue Line boundary. Asked if that's an advantage, McKenna said, "Without a doubt." After all, ROOST is not just marketing counties; it's about the entire region.
"Everybody talks about the brand of the Adirondacks," McKenna said. "You don't make a brand happen. A brand happens by itself. And I think the more we can focus on Blue Line-specific programming, the more we can help that brand take life. And I think these two counties together is the nucleus of that happening."
Asked if taking on the Hamilton County contract means more jobs for ROOST, McKenna said it's too early to tell. The RFP did not include a marketing plan; that's phase two. However, due to technological changes in tourism marketing over the past 20 years, marketing effort take more time. Therefore, McKenna said they will most likely need more help.
"It doesn't work anymore where you go buy an ad in the Daily News and people come," McKenna said. "It's interaction with social media and other means, and that takes people to do. Whether that's contracted out or becomes part of our staff, that's something that we have not figured out yet."
McKenna said he's looking forward to continuing the synergy ROOST has already created with Hamilton County and the towns in the Upper Hudson Recreation Hub: Long Lake and Indian Lake in Hamilton County; and Newcomb, Minerva and North Hudson in Essex County. The five towns created the hub to market themselves to visitors who will use the newly acquired Forest Preserve land in the region, particularly the Essex Chain Lakes, which was formerly owned by the Finch, Pruyn paper company.
Hamilton and Essex counties already work together with marketing efforts as they are both members of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, along with the counties of Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Clinton and Warren. The website is visitadirondacks.com.
Contact Andy Flynn at 518-523-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.