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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
Dec 18, 2019

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for my dad’s car stereo shop, I got my start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and I began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, I headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, I founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. I now host “Destination on the Left”, a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, I know what it takes to be successful. I founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. I have the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

In this solocast episode of Destination on the Left, we look at the highlights from day one of our Destination on the Left Virtual Summit.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The highlights from day one of the Destination on the Left Virtual Summit
  • The latest study from JLL and the World Tourism Council
  • Generational perceptions of the impact travel has on the environment
  • Why destination marketing should be a shared community value
  • How to use integrated campaigns
  • How to use Facebook advertising for campaigns

Destination on the Left Virtual Summit: Day 1

By now, you’ve probably heard all about the exciting virtual summit we held to close out 2019. Many familiar faces turned out to hear some of the show’s previous guests discuss insights, strategies, and tactics—really everything destination marketing. We received overwhelmingly positive feedback and I could not be more thrilled about the amount of value each one of you brought to the event. But if you were not able to attend, don’t worry! Over the course of the next three solocasts, I will be covering each day of the event, with a detailed analysis of the key talking points.

Destination 2030: Readiness for Tourism Growth: Dan Fenton joined us to discuss a study that JLL and the World Tourism Council published. It produced a framework and 5 typologies that can be used to determine a community’s readiness for tourism growth.

The Future of Travel as a Brand: Emerging Sentiments Posing Challenges: Erin Francis-Cummings’ presentation urges us to look five years into the future of our destination in regards to the green energy movement that is sweeping the globe. She focuses on examining the contrast of generations’ perceptions around the impact of travel on the environment.

Becoming a Shared Community Value: Bill Geist of DMO Pros talks about elevating the importance of tourism in our communities. He explains why it should be a shared value like any other municipal services.

Tracking Results From Integrated Campaigns: Julie Gilbert of Destination Niagra uses their 2019 campaigns as an example for how you can measure impressions, clicks, and even hotel bookings as a result of integrated campaigns. She also talks about leveraging this strategy with local events to create a powerful synergy.

Understanding Facebook Advertising for Destination Marketing: Camille Zess and Jess Reilly of Break the Ice Media took audience members behind the scenes to see how they run successful campaigns for their clients.

If you weren’t able to take part in the amazing Destination on the Left Virtual Summit, don’t fret! You can still watch all of the presentations on our website. Just purchase an all-access pass by visiting www.destinationontheleft.com/summit and enjoy! Otherwise, keep an eye out for an upcoming announcement for our next summit in Spring 2020. We hope you can join us.

Resources:

Dec 11, 2019

Brook grew up in Norfolk, NE and moved to Casper in 2015. During her time here she has fallen in love with the people of Casper and the sense of community. Brook is the CEO at Visit Casper and her favorite part about her position is continually forming strategic partnerships with fellow community members and working together to come up with creative solutions for impossible problems. When she’s not at work you can find her out for a run, reading at the beach, or planning her next adventure. Brook is also a big fan and attendee of many of the events that go on throughout downtown, and says her favorites are the 5150 Feast and 5150 Festival, which take place every year in August.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I am joined by Brook Kaufman, CEO of Visit Casper. Brook shares her story and discusses the role of DMOs in the community. She explains the challenges Visit Casper has faced, and how her team overcame them with creativity.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Brook Kaufman’s story and her role as CEO of Visit Casper
  • What Brook is doing to set Casper apart from other destinations
  • “The One-and-Only” campaign and the inspiration behind it
  • How Brook uses creativity to solve impossible problems
  • The lessons Brook took away from Visit Casper’s role in preparing the town for an influx of visitors due to the eclipse
  • How Brook overcame the challenge of building credibility and authority for her organization
  • How Visit Casper collaborates with its competitors

Visit Casper

When Brook Kaufman joined the team at Visit Casper, she was already an accomplished entrepreneur and a strong leader. But, sometimes we stumble upon the greatest opportunities by pure chance. Brook fell into the travel and tourism industry and her career turned into a burning passion. She quickly grew into her role embedded herself in the community, taking a holistic approach to destination marketing and making every move with the big picture in mind. Now, she is tackling some of our industry’s most difficult challenges with creativity, passion, and a collaborative spirit.

The One-and-Only

Brook approaches destination management with greater goals than heads in beds. Everything that comes out of Visit Casper is created with the best interest of its residents and visitors at heart. It is the reason Brook and her team have spent the last four years building credibility and authority, earning them an equal seat at the table in local government. The DMO is playing a much larger role in the community, which is reflected in its work. Campaigns like “The One-and-only” are industry-recognized and best-in-class. Visit Casper’s creative work has stabilized the brand and brought consistency to all channels. Brook is doing everything in her power to help set Casper apart.

You’re Only Less-Than Until You’re Not

Brook says she uses creativity to solve impossible problems and creativity, which is often the best approach in our industry. When you look at her accomplishments like tackling the influx of visitors for the eclipse, it becomes apparent that we all need to have more pride in what we get to do. We are not party planners for second-rate agencies that waste taxpayers’ dollars; we are an integral part of every community. You’re only lesser-than until you’re not, so acknowledge your value! If you are interested in hearing the insights and stories from Brook’s role as CEO of Visit Casper, check out my podcast episode, The One-and-Only Casper, with Brook Kaufman.

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/

Dec 4, 2019

As the U.S. managing director for China’s largest independent advertising agency, Humphrey Ho helps American brands reach their ever-growing base of Chinese consumers. Spearheading the opening of Hylink‘s American headquarters in Santa Monica, where he resides, Ho has scaled the operation up to 40 employees and secured the company’s key spots with industry leaders like Brand USA and Hawaiian Airlines. In September of 2018, Ho successfully launched Hylink’s subsidiary, Hylink Travel, a Shorty Awards-winning agency specializing in social and digital campaigns for travel brands.

Mr. Ho has been featured in various publications, with recent examples like The Drum, Digiday, AdWeek, Buzzfeed, and Ad Age. Mr. Ho was named a finalist for Digidays 2019 Future Leader award and was also tapped by Forbes magazine as one of the top 8 Asian-Americans Shaping the Travel Industry.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, Humphrey Ho is back to give us a detailed look at the data and tracking methods used to target the Chinese market. He explains data-driven marketing and how it differs in each segment of the travel and tourism industry. He describes the difference between branded and performance campaigns, and how to measure their effectiveness with new tools.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How different segments in travel and tourism look at data and rationalize their performance
  • How data-driven marketing is used with U.S. brands in the Chinese market
  • The new ways DMOs are accessing and leveraging data to reach Chinese travelers
  • Why DMOs are putting a lot more effort into brand love as they target China
  • The challenges DMOs face when targeting multi-cultural audiences
  • Hylink Radix and why you should be using it

Leveraging Data to Reach the Chinese Market

Back in episode #151, Humphrey Ho took us on a deep dive into the evolving Chinese travel market. He discussed the drastic shift in Chinese travel behavior, the opportunities amidst political turmoil between the U.S. and China, and the multi-destination collaborations that have successfully targeted the Chinese market. In this episode, Humphrey gives us a detailed look at the other side of the coin. He explains data-driven marketing and how it differs by segment. He describes the difference between branded and performance campaigns, and how to measure their effectiveness.

Measuring Effectiveness in China

For DMOs, the user demographic is changing and visibility is becoming more of a challenge in the Chinese market. When a DMO runs a campaign targeting Chinese travelers, it directly affects their partners too. As a result, DMOs are using data like traditional brand marketers to forecast all of the implications and the campaign’s overall effectiveness. DMOs have a responsibility to figure out what their brand means to the Chinese and it is more important than ever before to remain in-market. By accessing and leveraging data in new ways, DMOs are becoming more effective in doing so.

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/

Nov 20, 2019

Ben conceives and carries out the strategic direction for the overall brand positioning, messaging and marketing platforms. Ben is the brainchild of Catch Des Moines’ new the “S’s are Silent” brand campaign.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I am joined by Ben Handfelt, Director of Creative and Communications at Catch Des Moines. We discuss the tactics and strategies Ben and his team are using to increase tourism in the Greater Des Moines area.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Ben’s background in marketing and PR
  • How Ben leveraged his experience as a transplant to create a new marketing strategy for Des Moines
  • How Ben differentiates Iowa from other destinations
  • The importance of intentional video content
  • Proper use of humor in a destination marketing campaign
  • The S’s are Silent campaign and what inspired it
  • The effects of tourism on the community as a whole

Destination Iowa

Tourism is more than a collection of intermittent events that draw weekend traffic—it impacts the quality of life for every resident in the area. It is the reason why Catch Des Moines brought Ben Handfelt onto the team. Ben spearheads the destination marketing efforts in Des Moines, IA, combining a background in entertainment and corporate PR with a passion for powerful creative.

Living Amongst Your Target Audience

Ben was a Chicago transplant for twelve years. He knows exactly what is going through the minds of jaded city dwellers when they hear the name ‘Des Moines.’ But as an Iowa native, he also knows what brought him back in spite of everything Chicago has to offer. That was the feeling Ben strove to capture as he built new campaigns and reshaped their brand voice. The Greater Des Moines area has seen significant results from the efforts of Ben and his team.

S’s are Silent

In any city, quality of life directly correlates to the attraction and retention of talent. So, Ben and his team are playing the long game. They created a significant amount of humorous video content and developed Catch Des Moines' new the "S's are Silent" brand campaign in an effort to draw more visitors. The campaign has an oddly specific hook, but there has been an immense payoff in leisure travel, sales, and new residents. Ben and his team are the voice of destination Iowa and they have only begun to scratch the surface.

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/

Nov 13, 2019

Darienne Mobley is a personal coach, professional development trainer, motivational speaker and team building facilitator who brings a world of experience and wealth of wisdom to her clients. As an industry trailblazer, Darienne works with individuals, helping them embrace life and leadership. She also partners with organizations, leading them to greater long-term success by developing effective and dynamic teams, and giving them the tools to create a clear and impactful vision.

As a passionate public speaker, Darienne is a true storyteller who connects with her audience by sharing authentic experiences and real-life solutions. Her presentations inspire, entertain, educate and elevate groups to new heights. Darienne offers keynotes, one-on-one coaching, workshops, group coaching, online programs and more.

Over the past decade, Darienne has successfully collaborated with more than 100 organizations from around the country. She began her career in the tourism industry and has held the distinct honor of serving as the Director of Tourism for both Mississippi and Louisiana. Darienne taps into her specialized knowledge and vast experience to offer thoughtful guidance and leadership to current and future leaders in tourism and hospitality, as well as other industries.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I am joined by Darienne Mobley, Founder, and President of Darienne Inc. We discuss the journey of personal development through coaching and mentorship, and why it leads to sustainable happiness.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Darienne’s journey into coaching and professional speaking in the travel and tourism industry
  • Darienne’s personal experience with mentorship and coaching
  • What it means to achieve a “sense of flow,” and how to get there
  • How you know it is time to leave your job
  • The four pillars of Darienne’s process: clarity, intuition, priority, and truth
  • Why you need to prioritize personal rocks like health and spirituality
  • Leadership strategies for expanding roles in the travel and tourism industry
  • What you should be thinking about as you look for a personal development coach
  • How to use the Living Inside Out Virtual Program to start your own personal development journey at your own pace

Where You Want to Be

Darienne Mobley served as the Director of Tourism for both Mississippi and Louisiana, but her time in Louisiana was life-changing. There, Darienne held her position from 2004-2006, which means she was the Director of Tourism during Hurricane Katrina. There is no book on how to approach that scenario and the experience changed Darienne’s perspective on her career. At that time, she realized that she wasn’t interested in politics, finances, or budgets. Marketing was the place she wanted to be.


Darienne’s affinity for marketing and personal development led to the creation of her business, which enabled her to stay passionately involved with the tourism industry in a different capacity. She did a lot of tourism consulting in the beginning and eventually managed the Louisiana Travel Promotion Association on contract for ten years. That experience resulted in the final evolution of her business–coaching, professional development, and motivational speaking was her new focus.

The Effects of Coaching and Mentorship

Darienne hired a coach and experienced the impact first-hand. Her coach asked a lot of difficult questions that she could not answer. It helped her realize that she was not putting herself first, a trap that many of us fall into as women leaders and entrepreneurs. Darienne was pushed to pursue her untapped potential in public speaking and instantly built momentum. She got to do what she was best at in an industry she loved. Darienne was already getting clients before her year-long personal development program was over, and she finally found a sense of flow. Darienne made that transition late in her career, but there is no deadline; there is no substitute for the feeling that you are doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

Getting it Done With Grace and Ease

The theme of her program is “getting it all done with grace and ease. Most of us can handle getting it all done, but we often fail to do it with kindness, compassion, and peace of mind. Grace and ease represent the “flow” part, and it is important for you to realize that life shouldn’t always be hard. If you are doing what you love with grace and ease, even the difficult parts of your day will seem easier because you are approaching them with a different frame of mind.


The travel and tourism industry is Darienne’s sweet spot because that is what she knows best. She helps her clients determine if they are in the best place, and if not, how they can expand to do more of what they enjoy. Her process is built around 4 main pillars: clarity, intuition, priority, and truth. Those pillars are measured against your personal rocks to help you achieve sustainable happiness and success. When you are clear about what’s important to you and what your values are, you carry yourself differently. Coaching and mentorship is the best way to identify them.

Resources:

Nov 6, 2019

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for my dad’s car stereo shop, I got my start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester and I began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, I headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, I founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. I now host “Destination on the Left”, a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, I know what it takes to be successful. I founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. I have the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

In this solocast episode of Destination on the Left, I wanted to take the opportunity to share my gratitude with you. I discuss the insights I’ve gathered over the course of ten years in business and give you a look into a new project we are working on for Destination on the Left.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to help us hit our goal of 100 reviews
  • What I am grateful for right now
  • The celebrations and events surrounding my company’s ten-year anniversary
  • My experience receiving the Small Business Person of the Year Award from the Small Business Council in Rochester, NY.
  • The insights I’ve gathered over the course of ten years in business
  • A sneak peek at a new project we’re working on for Destination on the Left
  • What it means to employ cathedral thinking

Ten Years Worth of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to make ‘gratitude’ the theme of this week’s solocast. It is especially timely for me since my company, Break the Ice Media, celebrated its ten-year anniversary last month and I was honored with receiving the Small Business Person of the Year Award from the Small Business Council in Rochester, NY! With this episode, I want to share my gratitude with you.

Celebrate Every Milestone

I am grateful for you, our listeners, as we round off the podcast’s third year with overwhelming support. For our anniversary, we wanted to put together something that celebrates our team, clients, and everyone else who has been an important part of our journey. But with most of those people spread out across the continent, we had to plan something different for each group. I hope this will give you some new ideas and inspire you to do something special for your next big celebration!

Our process started by selecting an anniversary planning committee. It should come as no surprise that most of the ideas for our team celebration revolved around food and wine. But we wanted to get everyone involved. Our internal survey revealed that all of our team members wanted to do something unique and special. After some research, we booked the chef’s table at Good Luck in the Village Gate Square neighborhood of Rochester! With that settled, we moved on to brainstorming a client celebration.

A Toast to Our Clients

It didn’t take long for the light bulb to go off and we decided to hold a virtual toast for our scattered clients on October 14th (our birthday). To incentivize them a little bit, we shipped out fifty-six bottles of sparkling wine with custom labels to make the virtual event more sentimental and immersive. I am grateful for everyone that was involved and our team members who made it possible.

The Small Business Person of the Year Award was another momentous occasion. But when I was nominated for this award, I was hesitant to actually submit my application. The nomination came at a very busy time and our team was overextended. My leadership team pushed me to commit and I wouldn’t have done it without them. I made the top five of fifty finalists and it was a great honor to be recognized alongside nine other Rochester community business leaders.

Cathedral Thinking

As I prepared for the launch event, I drew inspiration from this podcast and reflected on all of the moments that molded me into a leader. The experience is best described by the concept of cathedral thinking, a mindset derived from manual laborers who began construction projects knowing they would not be completed in their lifetime. We are all cathedral thinkers, building our businesses for future generations, making impacts with our time to build better communities, supporting our families, and laying the foundation for our children and grandchildren for the next generation. I challenge all of us to keep having those big visions that will have far-reaching impact and to work towards that vision today, even if we do so.

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/

Oct 30, 2019

Brian Bossuyt has been marketing the Pocono Mountains for the past 20 years. He was the Sales and Marketing Director for Camelback Mountain Resort for 18 years, and now serves as the EVP, and CMO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

Developing marketing campaigns that target two of the country’s largest DMA’s, New York Metro and Philadelphia Metro, has kept Brian on top of his game by forcing him to learn and evolve. Both markets are on the cutting edge of technology and have a lot of competition for their attention. With limited budgets and marketing resources, he learned to adapt quickly. Brian’s use of analytical data has helped him thrive when planning strategies and developing partnerships. He incorporates fun, engaging creative and is not afraid to make a mistake. Those are the key factors that drive successful campaigns.

Brian loves family, being a husband, a dad, and playing in the outdoors as much as possible. He likes to keep things simple and to the point because he gets more done that way! Brian is pretty laid back and tries to look at everything with as much optimism as possible!

In this episode of Destination on the Left, I am joined by Brian Bossuyt, Executive Vice President and CMO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau. We discuss the benefits of building an in-house marketing team, their new approach to creative, and how they are leveraging data to break into new markets.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Brian Bossuyt’s journey into the role of EVP and CMO of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
  • How Bossuyt adapts his marketing strategy to unexpected change
  • What Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is doing to set themselves apart
  • How Bossuyt is using data to increase the effectiveness of their marketing
  • How he built out an in-house marketing team
  • The launch of their own television program
  • How Bossuyt overcame the challenges associated with litter in the Poconos
  • How DMOs collaborate and work with the local communities
  • Bossuyt’s future plans for the organization

Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau

Brian Bossuyt started skiing at three years old, developing a passion for the mountains at a very early age. But growing up in the Poconos provided Bossuyt with more inspiration than hobbies. For him, it was a home, not a destination. And when you combine that notion with his background in hospitality, it is no surprise that he now serves as Executive Vice President and CMO of the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau.

Bossuyt paid his dues. And in college, he broke into the world of marketing as an intern for Hunter Mountain’s marketing team. During his internship, Bossuyt was immersed in the ski culture and was given significant responsibilities that involved him most of the resort’s daily operations. It was an opportunity that combined his passion for the mountains and experience in hospitality, laying the framework for his post-graduate career at Camelback and beyond.

Adaptive Marketing in Travel and Tourism

Weather and seasonality control the travel and tourism industry, so as a marketer you have to be innovative. Bossuyt’s first year as the Director of Marketing for Camelback posed the warmest winter they’d seen in decades. It created a myriad of new challenges and their initial strategy was pushed back to January. But, nonetheless, Bossuyt was able to adapt and redesigned his marketing program in real-time. Growing into a leadership role in marketing is a difficult task. However, by developing your versatility and managerial skills, your marketing efforts will start to yield impressive results no matter what is thrown your way.

New Creative, New Team, New Tools

In the last few years, Bossuyt and his team have focused on delivering top-notch creative. And a lot of their work starts with broadcast and stems into different mediums from there. By focusing on longer-form content for broadcast, they have more content to pull from. That enables them to create more impactful social media content and add depth as they repurpose it for a variety of other platforms. Bossuyt is determined to maintain the same message, but deliver it in a more strategic way by bringing all of their marketing efforts in-house.

Because they brought all facets of their marketing process in-house, the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is able to use data to increase the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. Bossuyt analyzes data to determine what markets are the strongest, where they can grow in new markets, and what’s the best way to retarget those markets. Since they manage all of their own digital assets, they have access to metrics and analytics that will help them determine next steps.

The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau is largely responsible for the growth of their resort in recent years. And with a team of nine full-time marketing and PR professionals, the brand will continue to transform. Brian Bossuyt has done outstanding work at the helm of the marketing team and he is constantly re-evaluating their strategy. Even with the competitive nature of the travel and tourism industry, Bossuyt continues to drive traffic and find different ways to set their brand apart.

Resources:

Oct 23, 2019

Cyndi Bartley is the Operations and Marketing Director at Visit Lake Norman. Throughout her entire professional career, she has been devoted to the hospitality and tourism industry. She began her role there in 2007 as a marketing intern and continued elevating her position and responsibilities to her current role today. During her time with Visit Lake Norman, she continues to enhance their ambassador and internship programs. Bartley enjoys continued education and networking through conferences and learning sessions. Currently, she is in the process of undergoing Destinations International’s CDME program.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I am joined by Cyndi Bartley, Operations and Marketing Director at Visit Lake Norman. She delves into the marketing tactics and strategies that have been successful in drawing traffic to a small destination.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Cyndi Bartley’s journey to Operations and Marketing Director at Visit Lake Norman
  • The multi-functional nature of Bartley’s position, and how she prepared for it
  • How Bartley and her team maintain a competitive edge in the travel and tourism industry
  • What enables Visit Lake Norman to continuously improve their marketing processes
  • The challenges that Visit Lake Norman is currently facing, and how they plan to overcome them
  • How Visit Lake Norman’s internship program is impacting their capacity
  • Different roles that Bartley’s interns assume
  • How interns are selected, and the responsibilities that they have
  • Why Visit Lake Norman is collaborating with other organizations in the area
  • What is in store for the future of Visit Lake Norman

Visit Lake Norman

After a lot of moving around, Cyndi Bartley’s family finally settled down in the Charlotte area of North Carolina. When Bartley transitioned into high school, she gained a better sense of direction for what she wanted to do in her career. Business seemed like a field that aligned with her aspirations, and Bartley was drawn to the specific niche of marketing. She received her bachelor’s from UNC, but her passion for marketing developed well before that point.

Bartley is now the Operations and Marketing Director at Visit Lake Norman, and she has been with them for thirteen years. However, she started as just an intern. Bartley never could have predicted that she would end up in a leadership role, but hindsight is twenty-twenty. Looking back on her career, Bartley’s early professional development with Visit Lake Norman is one of the main reasons she is a successful marketing leader. She had the opportunity to dive deep into every facet of the organization, which prepared her to wear a number of different hats in the future.

Maintaining a Competitive Edge

Travel and Tourism is an extremely competitive industry, so to win foot traffic for Lake Norman, Cyndi Bartley and her team had to go above and beyond. Being with the organization for over a decade is a huge advantage for Bartley. She has seen everything that has worked and everything that hasn’t. She has also seen all of the tactics of surrounding tourism boards which builds a distinct profile of their competition. Visit Lake Norman works hard to constantly refine their efforts and create a polished appearance that portrays them as a larger destination than they actually are.

With Cyndi Bartley at the helm, Visit Lake Norman has experienced a lot of success. But with new successes come new challenges. As their organization grows, they struggle to maintain enough manpower to meet demands. It is difficult to consistently produce high-quality content and marketing collateral when they don’t have enough resources to do so. That means new creative is the first to get cut. But Bartley is combatting that deficiency with a robust internship program, providing Visit Lake Norman with bodies in the form of marketing, product design, and sports marketing interns.

Increased Manpower Through Internships

Every year they bring more bright minds on board, creating meaningful content and increasing Visit Lake Norman’s capacity in the busiest season of the year. Bartley worked hard to augment the program, which now gets upwards of 30-40 resumes a year and continues to grow. The interns are able to provide dire resources to Visit Lake Norman because they follow a stringent plan from day one. But that is not to say they aren’t given some degree of free rein over their work. Each student is placed in a role where they can contribute to the big picture and exercise their strengths. So, Bartley’s team always wins together because they are always on the same page.

What’s in Store?

Visit Lake Norman has some big things on the horizon and their team is working diligently to promote their message in new ways. That means producing new video content, creating innovative marketing initiatives and campaigns, and exploring different platforms that they aren’t currently leveraging. Bartley is also making a greater effort to collaborate with other organizations in the area to reach a larger audience and they have already experienced great success with that. Visit Lake Norman is taking major strides in the travel and tourism industry, and they are a model organization for marketing small destinations. If you want to learn more about their internship program and their plans for the future, make sure to listen to our podcast episode, Visit Lake Norman, with Cyndi Bartley.

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/

Oct 16, 2019

Episode 152:

Brian Zerges is a Licensed Real Estate Broker and sole owner of Finger Lakes Premier Properties (FLPP) for the last 25 years. After earning a BA from The Rochester Institute of Technology, Brian spent over seven valuable years as a Licensed Real Estate Broker in California specializing in commercial sales, syndication and property management. These experiences positioned him well to return to upstate New York and become the owner-operator of the largest lakeside real estate firm in the Finger Lakes. Brian is certified by the National Association of Realtors as a Resort and Second Home Specialist and an active member of the Vacation Rental Managers Association.

With over 60 full-time year-round employees, FLPP maintains offices in Canandaigua and Penn Yan and specializes in property management and real estate sales. FLPP currently manages over 300 privately-owned single-family lakeside vacation rentals along with over 50 single-family homes. Its portfolio of commercial accounts has grown to include Keuka College and Best Western’s Vineyard Inn & Suites, Penn Yan. Many investors rely on Brian and his team to locate, purchase and manage lakeside investment properties with maximum rental income.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Brian Zerges about his special niche of selling real estate in the lakeside hospitality industry and the challenges that go along with it.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The special aspects and systems of selling real estate in the hospitality industry
  • Similarities between hotels and house rentals in terms of visitor experience
  • Creative solutions and features FLPP uses to stand out in the industry
  • Why Brian’s niche is so challenging and how he and his team rise to the challenge
  • Data Brian’s team gathers from its properties and customers and how that data is used
  • What FLPP does to remain flexible and accommodate clients
  • What “co-opetition” does for Brian’s team

Lakeside Real Estate

Brian Zerges is the sole owner of Finger Lakes Premier Properties, the largest lakeside real estate firm in the Finger Lakes. Brian’s experience in California real estate has made him a perfect fit for the competitive industry of real estate hospitality. He and his team of 60 full-time employees have discovered the ins and outs of operating in this unique niche, the required systems, and how to deliver the best visitor experience.

Finger Lakes Premier Properties runs over 300 properties along hundreds of miles of shoreline. Each building is different due to topography, distance, client profile, and so much more. As the largest growing section of the lodging industry, vacation rentals require marketers and owners to keep up by implementing systems that go above and beyond. FLPP has a large, commercial laundry service that is constantly ensuring its properties have clean linens and other laundry supplies. This is just one of the many moving parts of making sure that all of those properties have maintenance and housekeeping 24/7, just like a hotel would.

Brian’s team goes the extra mile to make their customers confident in the visitor experience. Finger Lakes tourists can rest easy knowing that the FLPP staff will be there to meet their every need, no matter the time. FLPP accomplishes this by thoroughly vetting its high-performing staff, evaluating metrics, and constantly searching for feedback from guests. Data about timing, costs, efficiency, quality, and numerous other things are gathered from the renters and taken into account when FLPP develops its systems, trains its staff, and updates its fees and policies.

Innovation and Flexibility

In a niche as hot as lakeside rentals, FLPP has to constantly adapt to meet the shifting needs and demands of the competitive industry. As always, this requires creativity! Brian and FLPP have leaned heavily into the lakeside aspect of their real estate properties, highlighting and optimizing a lake experience for their guests. Brian grew up on the lake, so he knows all about what lakeside living really means. This is where the team’s creativity comes forward, whether it’s having houses along Lake Street or having the word lake in their phone number.

Alongside creativity, flexibility is incredibly important. With lots of clients at lots of different properties, FLPP has to be able to change plans at the drop of a hat to accommodate customers. One way they do this is through scattered check-in and check-out dates. While some of the property owners were resistant, Brian and FLPP have successfully made it so guests can successfully check in and out based on their needs without having to commit to a full Saturday to Saturday stay. This makes it easier for guests with hectic schedules and prevents FLPP from having to clean and prepare 300 houses on a given Saturday.

One of the biggest ways FLPP continues to learn and grow is through collaboration and even competition. FLPP is always in touch with property owners to make sure they’re delivering the best experiences for guests and has helped form the Finger Lakes Vacation Rental Managers Association, a lakeside association helping to handle issues around the lake ranging from problem guests to pollution. They also collaborate with the Vacation Rental Exchange, a coalition of 13 vacation rental companies in the Northeast that come together to exchange ideas and have great discussions. Brian Zerges and FLPP are another fine example of creativity, innovation, and “co-opetition”, and I’m so glad I get to share some of their knowledge with you.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Oct 9, 2019

As the U.S. managing director for China’s largest independent advertising agency, Humphrey Ho helps American brands reach their ever-growing base of Chinese consumers. Spearheading the opening of Hylink‘s American headquarters in Santa Monica, where he resides, Ho has scaled the operation up to 40 employees and secured the company’s key spots with industry leaders like Brand USA and Hawaiian Airlines. In September of 2018, Ho successfully launched Hylink’s subsidiary, Hylink Travel, a Shorty Awards-winning agency specializing in social and digital campaigns for travel brands.

Mr. Ho has been featured in various publications, with recent examples like The Drum, Digiday, AdWeek, Buzzfeed, and Ad Age. Mr. Ho was named a finalist for Digiday’s 2019 Future Leader award and was also tapped by Forbes magazine as one of the top 8 Asian-Americans Shaping the Travel Industry.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Humphrey Ho about the needs, trends, and opportunities that have come up in travel between China and the U.S. in recent years.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Humphrey’s unique, scientific approach to advertising and destination marketing
  • Trends Humphrey has spotted in Chinese travel and tourism
  • Opportunities Humphrey sees in China and America during these uncertain times
  • How Hylink spots patterns and creates campaigns from the data they gather
  • Keeping up with the evolving needs of US and Chinese travelers

The Scientific Approach to Tourism Marketing

Like so many people in the tourism industry, Humphrey Ho meandered into his destination marketing role from an unconventional path. Humphrey studied neuroscience and integrative biology in college before getting an MBA in IT management. He founded and sold a social networking company in Canada before moving to China during the recession. He’s since managed interactions between media publishers and Google and now finds himself as the managing director at Hylink, China’s largest independent advertising agency.

Humphrey has shed his former roles, but his scientific approach is the same. He is constantly searching for patterns and trends in the marketing data, looking for tried-and-true techniques to prove wrong using his “null hypothesis” strategy. Humphrey is an innovator dedicated to data-driven solutions that meet the changing needs of Chinese travelers.

Observing those trends has been important in the wake of the economic tensions between China and the U.S. Humphrey and his team began to learn how drastically travel has shifted for Chinese citizens, who are now traveling to the United States and beyond. His team was able to spot how the expensive, luxury nature of travel affects the industry in times of economic tension. They also found that Chinese citizens are becoming much more savvy about their local surroundings due to the intense growth of technology in the country. By spotting these trends, Humphrey has discovered how to turn chaos and uncertainty into opportunity.

In Danger Comes Opportunity

As travel trends shift in places like California and Hawaii, it becomes clearer what’s working and what isn’t. Humphrey is an expert at finding untapped areas that could potentially be marketed, such as the unique use of RVs in the United States that nobody is talking about. He recognizes areas where destinations could go deeper in marketing, like marketing Southern California separately from California, and areas where brands could pull back (everybody knows about Santa Monica beach; let’s focus on something else!).

Hylink’s success comes from an interconnected web of partnerships, data, and an understanding of their target markets. Their campaigns take advantage of nuances, like the differences between Northern and Southern California, to paint destinations as unique, exciting places to go. They bring in key influencers and develop content plans to drive traffic. They collaborate with hotels, attractions, transportation services, restaurants, and local DMOs to create three- or four-sided partnerships to make environments that benefit everyone, especially tourists.

Every area of the world has a story to tell. The job of Humphrey and other tourism marketers is to discover that story, find the people who can help them tell it to the most people in the most effective way, and then share that story creatively with the world. Hylink’s unique use of data and demographic understanding puts them ahead of the game. If you simply look a little closer at the trends and patterns associated with your target markets, no matter the demographic, I’m sure you’ll find an exciting new way to draw people to your awesome destinations.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Oct 2, 2019

Dan Janes is the CEO of Madden Media, a destination marketing agency focused on increasing tourism and workforce attraction for communities across the country. Like many in this industry, Dan comes from a unique background, having been a successful entrepreneur in a big data and analytics company and having served as an Army officer and West Point graduate.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Dan Janes of Madden Media about the evolving world of tourism marketing and his company’s activities related to inclusivity, marketing technology, and “schema disruption”.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Dan’s path from the Army to his position as CEO of destination marketing agency Madden Media
  • What makes Madden Media stand out in the competitive tourism marketing industry
  • How Madden Media creates curiosity in their consumers
  • Madden Media’s view of “schemas” and how their marketing disrupts those schemas and exposes consumers to new things
  • Madden Media’s destination marketing efforts in the inclusivity space
  • How Dan and his company evolve with the consumers in the area of marketing technology and websites
  • Madden Media’s approach to partnerships, planning, and cooperating on projects by adding more minds

The Winding, Weaving Path

Dan Janes’s goal as a young kid growing up in Nebraska was to get out of Nebraska and explore. He realized this goal when he bravely joined the United States Army. After graduating from West Point, Dan was exposed to outstanding leadership and teamwork while serving overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. When he returned home, Dan used his experience working with data in the Army to start his own successful data analytics firm. He got his MBA and began teaching at the University of Arizona before meeting Kevin Madden, the founder of Madden Media.

Kevin and Dan bonded over the future of marketing technology and the use of data in the field. Since then, Dan has taken on the role of CEO of Madden Media and has continuously strived to evolve the company with the changing face of the industry and the changing needs of its consumers. One of their biggest game-changing themes? The idea of schema disruption.

Schema disruption stems from the psychology concept of schemas, which are mental models and images of things based on our assumptions and experiences with them. Madden Media’s goal is to disrupt people’s preconceived notions of destinations by showcasing the best-kept secrets and best possible sides of all different locations. Dan offers up the example of West Virginia. While many think of the state as only coal mines and dirty smokestacks, it’s actually a vibrant and growing state with lots of natural beauty and appealing attractions for a variety of ages. Disrupting those schemas and biases creates one of tourism marketing’s most useful tools: curiosity.

Future Projects and Creating Curiosity

Madden Media continues to move forward and adapt as society evolves and the desires of the consumer change. One exciting way they’ve done this is through their focus on inclusivity in travel and destinations. Through its internal platforms Vacationist USA and Visit Gay USA, Madden Media displays popular destinations for the LGBTQ community alongside lesser-known destinations with similar characteristics and attractions. They also put destinations like Wyoming on the map for inclusivity by highlighting its status as the birthplace of women’s suffrage.

Madden Media creates curiosity and is always learning more about its clients through partnerships, data analysis, marketing technologies, and more. Possessing an agile management philosophy and flexibility in marketing approaches, Madden Media has delved into the deeper aspects of marketing technology, web development, search engine optimization, and so much more. Dan’s team and network of partnerships at Madden Media is a great example of creativity and co-opetition in action. The tourism market is only going to continue to evolve and change. It’s up to you to evolve with it!

Resources:

Sep 25, 2019

The 2019 NYS Tourism Excellence Award winners will be honored at the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s annual meeting on September 27. I had the privilege of talking to each of the winners about their award-winning programs, how those programs impacted tourism in their area and what they learned from being part of the program. The interviews had underlying themes of creativity, partnership, celebration and storytelling. This episode shares the wisdom and stories of those award winners, and I hope you come away as motivated and enlightened as I did.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I share my conversations with:

  • Kelly Blazosky, President of Oneida County Tourism
  • Maggie LaCasse, Director of Communications for Discover Long Island
  • Cassandra Harrington, Executive Director for the Destination Marketing Corporation of Otsego County
  • Lauren Humphrey, Tourism Program Liaison for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce
  • Ross Levi, Executive Director of I Love NY

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How partnerships across regions boosted the PR and marketing efforts of Oneida County Tourism’s award-winning project
  • Discover Long Island’s unconventional method for raising brand awareness through their new ambassador, Lili
  • How the DMCOC of Otsego County used their most popular attraction, baseball, to open people’s minds to all of the other things to see
  • Genesee County Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to expand offerings in their unique baseball niche
  • What I Love NY did to help InterPride put on the largest LGBTQ event in history

Oneida County Tourism

Kelly Blazosky is the President of Oneida County Tourism and recipient of the Excellence in Tourism Marketing Projects for her company’s Beyond the Big Apple Brochure. Kelly credits the success of the brochure, which outlines suggested nine-day itineraries across three regions outside of NYC, to the multitude of partnerships made in and around the area. Working with organizations such as I Love NY and partners from the Hudson Valley region and beyond, Kelly’s team was able to construct a multi-region itinerary that gives suggestions for people seeing Niagara Falls, the Corning Museum of Glass, and more. Kelly was refreshed by how partnerships helped boost the project’s marketing and PR efforts and was excited to connect with a variety of brands, such as those in the culinary and craft brewing industries. Kelly is ecstatic to have the hard work that has gone into the project honored by an Excellence Award.

Discover Long Island

Maggie LaCasse is the Director of Communications for Discover Long Island, which is receiving an Excellence in Visitor Service Award for their mobile visitor center, Lili. Named Lili (Long Island, Long Island) by public opinion, Discover Long Island’s mobile visitor center is an ice cream truck repurposed with Long Island imagery, speakers blasting Billy Joel music, and a visitor services team ready to answer questions and dish out merchandise. What an inventive and exciting idea! Lili has been a hero for Long Island as a brand advocate, visitor resource, and a very visible icon of the awesome tourist destination that she’s named after. Discover Long Island’s “small but mighty” team has used Lili to form meaningful local partnerships with vineyards, surf camps, and much more. Maggie is proud to represent Discover Long Island the receiving this Excellence Award is very meaningful to her and her team.

Destination Marketing Corporation of Otsego County

Cassandra Harrington is the Executive Director for the Destination Marketing Corporation of Otsego County, which is receiving the Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing Award. The challenge Cassandra and her team faced was marketing Otsego County and Cooperstown as more than just a great baseball scene. Through their “Catch Me in Cooperstown” initiative, they were able to use the baseball familiarity to help promote Otsego County’s rural charm, museums, and family-friendly locales. The results speak for themselves: their efforts led to 5,500 additional Facebook followers, a newsletter open rate of 25% (up from the industry-standard 15%), and a 12.1% increase in occupancy tax in their slow season from March to May. Cassandra values the partnerships and support she received along the way, including those from her family and friends, her coworkers, and their advertising agency, BBG&G. She has loved working with organizations like I Love NY and Niagara Falls USA that teach her something new every day. Cassandra is overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness from receiving this Excellence Award, and it’s clearly well deserved.

Genesee County Chamber of Commerce

Lauren Humphrey is the Tourism Liaison for the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, which is receiving the Excellence in Niche Marketing Award. Joined by program partner Casey Brown, Lauren discusses how her team discovered a need for additional offerings to one of their niche target markets: golfers. The 27-hole championship course at Terry Hills was enough to attract crowds of golfers every year, but many of them stayed for more than just that and wanted more course offerings. With experts like Casey Brown, who has a degree in professional golf management, Lauren’s team packaged together lodging and golf courses into payout agreements and advertised for them using brochures and online with the help of my team, Break the Ice Media. Their plan was a success, generating over $300,000 in economic impact last year alone. To Lauren and the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, building an incredible golfing experience is one of the most enjoyable parts of their area. They hope to make every golfer happy enough to keep coming back, and they are honored to receive this Excellence Award.

I Love NY

Russ Levi is the Executive Director of I Love NY, which is receiving an Excellence in Niche Marketing Award. Together with Sarah Emmer, Director of Tourism Policy Initiatives, Russ and I delve into New York City’s recent celebration of World Pride, an international pride event put on every few years by InterPride, a worldwide coalition of pride event organizers. The World Pride event coincided with the Stonewall Uprising, a historic New York City event credited with starting the modern LGBTQ rights movement. The I Love NY team executed a massive effort across the world to promote this event using paid media, speaking events, lunches, and the I Love NY pod as it traveled from place to place, appearing at pride events around the globe. Events also occurred around New York state, with the I Love NY pod and a pop-up welcome center appearing at events in Long Island, Cooperstown, and a number of other locations. The governor even hosted a World Pride Ambassador competition where people submitted videos and were selected to be pride ambassadors. These 11 people joined the World Pride March in New York. The results speak loudly for themselves: this was the largest LGBTQ event in history, with over 5 million people attending over the course of the weekend. The Pride March itself was also the longest in history, attracting numerous attendees from around the world. Russ and Sarah learned the value of niche partnerships from around the world and how to leverage those. They also appreciated the opportunity to use a historical event to effectively market and celebrate their cause. The outcomes were spectacular. They are both honored to have their efforts toward a cause they believe invalidated by recognition through this Excellence Award.

Overview

The Excellence Award winners I have for you this week all aimed high, achieved incredible goals, and celebrated those goals with their partners and incredible teams. Oneida County Tourism leveraged partnerships to broaden tourist horizons beyond New York City. Discover Long Island had fun with their tourism efforts by naming an ice cream truck van Lili and having her drive all over to share the beauty of its home. The DMCOC of Otsego County was able to use baseball to revamp its brand and make their slow season a success. The Genesee County Chamber of Commerce listened to their golf audience and delivered them exactly what they wanted. I Love NY went global to help InterPride create the largest LGBTQ event in history. These are all stories of big dreams, bold ideas, and unreal results, and I love every minute of sharing them with you.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Sep 18, 2019

The 2019 NYS Tourism Excellence Award winners will be honored at the New York State Tourism Industry Association’s annual meeting on September 27. I had the privilege of talking to each of the winners about their award-winning programs, how those programs impacted tourism in their area and what they learned from being part of the program. The interviews had underlying themes of creativity, partnership, celebration and storytelling. This episode shares the wisdom and stories of those award winners, and I hope you come away as motivated and enlightened as I did.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I share my conversations with:

  • David Lee, Marketing Operations Manager at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection
  • Rob Casetti, Senior Director at Corning Museum of Glass
  • Jennifer Sammartino, Deputy Chief of Staff for Visit Staten Island
  • Scott Keller, Executive Director of Hudson Valley River National Heritage Area
  • Jennifer Ackerson, owner of ALON Marketing Group

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • David Lee’s best advice to tourism marketing professionals from his experiences at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection and other places
  • The 150-year history of glass in Corning and what Corning Museum of Glass did to make their monumental Glass Barge project a resounding success
  • How Jennifer Sammartino and Visit Staten Island took their destination from “the fifth borough” to a vibrant, bustling destination with a great waterfront corridor
  • The ingenuity of Scott Keller’s Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area team, as they devised an app to tell the story of all the national heritage sites along the Hudson River Rail line.
  • What Jennifer Ackerson and her company, ALON Marketing Group, do to give back to New York’s destinations and teach the state’s businesses how to grow and be successful tourism spots

Finger Lakes Visitors Connection

David Lee is the Marketing Operations Manager for the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, a position he has held for almost four years. Prior to that, David got his start busing tables, bartending, and eventually managing the IT at Lakes Nama and Canandaigua. David’s technological experience helped him land a job in tourism, where he has stayed for the past ten years. In the tourism industry, David has come to love helping people spend their free time enjoying themselves in the places that he’s grown up. He likes shaping experiences and seeing the things he’s worked so hard on benefit people directly, even if it’s just a map helping them to find their way. David encourages all tourism professionals to embrace their own leadership if they want to find themselves in management positions. He stressed creativity, knowing your strengths, and knowing your weaknesses when making decisions and taking on projects. Finally, David reminds all of us of how crucial it is that we take risks, be vulnerable, and make mistakes to learn and grow as tourism professionals. Following this advice is how David won the Excellence in Young Professional Leadership Award.

Corning Museum of Glass

Rob Casetti is the Senior Director at the Corning Museum of Glass and the recipient of the Excellence in Overall Tourism Marketing Award. Starting out as a designer and project planner, early tourism struggles led Rob to trust in data and customer behavior to drive creativity and innovation. Since then, he and his team have engaged in numerous complex projects, including the now award-winning Glass Barge. The barge explores 150 years of glass history in New York, with 30 stops spread across five months stretching from Brooklyn to Buffalo to the Finger Lakes. This barge celebrates the voyage of glass from Corning to Brooklyn that occurred right after the Civil War. It features live glassblowing demonstrations, historic sites, authentic maritime travel, and many other attractions along the way. Rob credits the success of such a massive undertaking to partnerships with numerous outlets, including CVBs, museums, markets, and other locales. Understanding the complexity of the project and leveraging these partnerships helped bring the Glass Barge to 55,000 people, an amazing number. Rob is humbled to receive the award and knows how incredible it is to be recognized in a tourist state as great as New York.

Visit Staten Island

Jennifer Sammartino is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Visit Staten Island and the recipient of the Excellence in Tourism Marketing Projects Award. In 2017, Jennifer was made Director of Tourism for New York’s fifth borough, which suffered from a reputation problem for a long time. While it doesn’t have Times Square or the Statue of Liberty, Staten Island is home to a pleasant mix of urban and rural areas, plenty of fun activities, historic Richmondtown, and the state’s only Tibetan museum. The hard part was building the borough’s waterfront corridor, raising awareness, and attracting tourists by removing negative stereotypes. Through collaboration with Empire State Development, I Love New York, The Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, and others, Jennifer and her team were able to elevate Staten Island. Popular tourist destinations and transportation outlets were prime targets for marketing campaigns while talking to the locals about why they loved Staten Island gave Jennifer a special lens through which to view the borough. The combination of partnership and local stories informed her team and helped them to revitalize Staten Island’s image as a fun tourist attraction, not just New York’s fifth borough.

Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area

Scott Keller is the Executive Director of the Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and recipient of the Excellence in Tourism Marketing Projects Award. Scott’s team developed a river and train tour app for riders of the Hudson Line between New York City and Albany. The app runs based on the theme of “What’s out the window?” When riders see something out of the train window or along the river, they can enter the app and explore six different themes, each one packed with historical information and stories about all of the sights to see. The trip was inspired by kayaking tours down the Hudson River and later evolved into a printed map of national heritage sites before finally becoming an app. While Scott acknowledges the difficulty of building, maintaining, and paying for an app, he credits his success to hard work and partnerships with places like Empire State Development and the app development company Oncell. Scott is honored to receive the award and blaze a new trail for Hudson River Valley tourism.

Alon Marketing Group

Jennifer Ackerson is the owner of ALON Marketing Group and a recipient of an Excellence in Leadership Award. She got her start in tourism at Discover Long Island 25 years ago. Jen has since built her consultancy and seen the tourism marketing industry grow and evolve, all while keeping her favorite things about it: creativity, partnerships, and helping destinations succeed. She loves teaching and giving back to the communities she helps and stays motivated by working with people and destinations she cares about. Her marketing consulting company, ALON Marketing Group, has partnered with New York City to roll out a training program delivering all of her knowledge from 20 years of tourism marketing experience. The program will train businesses in sales, marketing, operations, and how to attract more tourism. Jen recommends all tourism leaders ask questions, network, follow up, and represent themselves well to see results in the industry. She thinks the award is very cool, and is honored to receive it.

Overview

The common theme amongst all of these Excellence Award winners is the creativity, tenacity, and collaboration they have all brought to the table in different ways. Finger Lakes Visitors Connection’s David Lee is young but has the experience and spunk of an industry veteran. The Corning Museum of Glass achieved a colossal feat with its Glass Barge through partnerships and elbow grease. Visit Staten Island helped bring Staten Island from the back of people’s minds to the forefront of NYC tourism. Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area helped use modern technology to pique people’s curiosity about all of the exciting sights along the Hudson River. ALON Marketing Group brings Jennifer Ackerson’s 20+ years of experience to businesses and tourism professionals across New York in a friendly, teachable way. All of these award winners have helped foster innovation and drive New York’s tourism industry forward, and I am honored to speak with all of them about their accomplishments.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Sep 11, 2019

Judi Hess is the Director of Visit Binghamton, a position she has held since June 2016. Prior to her promotion, Judi was the Manager of Tourism & Special Events for over 20 years. Visit Binghamton is a department of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce that is focused on increasing tourism in Broome County. Visit Binghamton is the official tourism promotion agency for Broome County. Judi has been with Visit Binghamton since 1995.

Visit Binghamton focuses on tourism promotion, consumer marketing, cooperative advertising programs and making sales calls on professional planners (sporting groups, conventions, and tour groups). Tourism is an ever-changing industry with new initiatives and opportunities, and Judi welcomes the opportunity to never stop learning and taking on new challenges. Additionally, she serves on several local committees and works closely with our elected officials and hospitality industry partners.

In 2017 the new Visit Binghamton brand was unveiled, giving the CVB a new look, new direction, and new energy. The rebrand is one of Judi’s proudest accomplishments.

Judi enjoys travel and experiencing new things as well as exploring the community she lives in. From great dining and craft beverages to taking in a hockey game, life is good! A lifelong resident of Broome County, she sees her work as a way to let everyone know what a great place this is to visit, live and work.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Judi Hess about her rebrand of Visit Binghamton and the variety of partnerships and creative solutions she’s used to craft a spectacular destination.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How a rebrand revitalized Binghamton’s tourism industry and the creativity that Judi and her team put into that
  • The challenges that have brought out Judi’s creativity and how she and her team stepped up and tackled the adversity
  • Judi’s team’s usage of technology and video to promote Binghamton
  • Unique strategies Judi has used to expand Binghamton’s reach over social media
  • All of the collaborations that have helped Binghamton blossom as a tourist destination
  • Creating strong partnerships and steps you can take to help parties relate to each other
  • Engaging the local community to improve satisfaction for both visitors and people who live at your destinations

A Creative Rebrand

Binghamton is a vibrant and bustling part of New York that’s growing in popularity with each day. We can point to many factors for its success, and one of them is the fresh new take on its tourism department, Visit Binghamton. The department has its director, Judi Hess, to thank for its recent 2017 rebrand. Judi is very proud of this accomplishment, and I was happy to have her share it with me.

Judi and her team saw the incredible things happening in their community and knew it was time for a change. With live music almost every night and art galleries opening up where there used to be cigar factories, Visit Binghamton brought restaurants, hotels, government officials, and university representatives to help answer one question: Who are we? This collaboration helped them realize the importance of the individual contributions of every person, whether local or visiting from across the country. Visit Binghamton came out with a fresh new tagline: “Be a Part of Our Story”.

Bold colors and prints for the new brand perfectly compliment exciting new developments in Binghamton’s tourist industry. Imagine seeing Animal Adventure Park, an interactive animal exhibit with giraffes, zebras, monkeys, and more. The growing beer industry is promoted by inner tube rides down the Beer Tree River, while the hospitality section has had a drone fly through. It’s no wonder people from across the world tune in to Binghamton’s social media!

Creating Strong Partnerships

Judi’s team couldn’t have done it without the collaborations and partnerships they built along the way. One of the most important, the LUMA Projection Arts Festival, helped Binghamton break into event marketing in an awesome and special way. Connecting LUMA to I Love NY and other NY marketing brands grew the event into a huge and successful show. Using hospitality, restaurants, and travel writing partners has helped this event and partnership blossom in an incredible way.

Transparency is one of the key features of partnerships with Judi’s team. By leveraging existing partnerships and introducing those people to new potential collaborators, channels of communication are opened and people begin to speak the same language. Judi’s team acts as a middle man to create strong bonds between organizations and weave a network of cooperation that has helped bring Binghamton to the forefront of New York tourism.

On the individual level, Judi focuses heavily on making sure that Binghamton locals are happy and that they see their town as thriving and improving. Judi creates a positive atmosphere that leads the locals to tell their friends across the country how much they love living there. That positivity eventually spreads to Binghamton tourists and secures a future for Binghamton as a popular New York destination.

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/

Sep 4, 2019

Creating a great customer experiences with hospitality, food and beverage has been a passion of Suzanne’s since her very first job. Suzanne is always looking for ways to bring new and interesting experiences to guests, and that is what she brings to Red Shed Brewery. As head of innovation and marketing, Suzanne seeks to be the connection between Red Shed and the brewing industry, working with her father Jack and brewers on interesting flavors and trends that use locally sourced New York hops and grains, and working with her husband David and tap room managers to understand the guests and clientele served to ensure that Red Shed remains connected with the community.

After graduating from the University in Arizona with a degree in Business Management, Suzanne worked at UCLA as Marketing, Media and Public Relations Manager. She moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 2002 and spent 14 years in the retail food industry working in food marketing, customer relationship marketing and finally found her calling being the head of customer experience for the chain of grocery, convenience and pharmacy locations. After getting married, having kids, and being convinced by her father Jack to bring her hospitality and food expertise to Cherry Valley, NY, Suzanne and the family took a leap of faith and joined the family business Red Shed Brewery in 2017.

Suzanne splits her time developing patient experience initiatives at Bassett Healthcare, teaching yoga and the brewery. Living up to the tagline of Local, Handcrafted, Fresh is Suzanne’s mission, and she wants to create that experience for her guests with each beer, flavor, experience and visit to the brewery.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Suzanne Olson of Red Shed Brewery about the customer experience and how to operate a business with a person-first mindset.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • What leaders in large companies can learn about running small businesses and what that transition taught Suzanne
  • How a person-first approach benefited Suzanne’s brewery and what that philosophy looks like in practice
  • Using feedback to ensure your company is always growing and improving
  • Handling the “slow season” and getting creative with your destination
  • The effects of co-opetition and collaboration on Suzanne’s brewery and how to forge meaningful partnerships
  • What targeted marketing can do to help diversify your audiences or explore your niche

Putting the Customer First

Suzanne Olson is a strategic and innovative customer experience and marketing professional with 16 years of progressive experience and related education. She spent 14 years at Giant Eagle, a New England grocery chain, directing customer service and marketing strategies. She then transitioned from the large grocery chain to a small brewery, Red Shed, in upstate New York. I was so happy to talk to her and get a glimpse into this exciting industry!

Suzanne’s background means she has a special perspective on serving customers and giving them experiences to remember. Her switch from a company with 37,000 employees to a small brewery of 14 people gave her insight on operations, service, and training. She discovered how relevant company culture is to a smaller organization and resolved to put customers and people first.

Small businesses in the travel industry face unique challenges that large corporations don’t otherwise know about. It’s very easy to neglect things like training when running an in-season destination for seven days a week. Suzanne’s person-first approach is a great fix for this and other problems Red Shed has dealt with. Her company brews and works for the customer. As a result, the company has adapted to local tourism by implementing a beer garden, yard games, giant Jenga, tractor tires, and a family-friendly menu. The family focus carved out a niche for Red Shed that appeals to a broad range of customers who just want to relax.

Craft Brew Collaboration

Suzanne’s creative “customer-first” practices have put Red Shed ahead of the game. To help her along the way, Suzanne and her company have consistently asked for feedback to ensure they’re always improving and recreating their winning formula. This level of creativity and flexibility is extremely helpful for when Suzanne’s business faces its inevitable challenge: the slow season.

To shake things up, Red Shed “invents events,” as Suzanne puts it. Events such as a prom party and other fun festivities keep people interested, while new beers keep them coming back for more. Other features, like an Oktoberfest party with a variety of attractions, continue to draw new and diverse audiences. Targeted marketing helps Suzanne build a vision for Red Shed and the events and ideas she wants to try out. In the large market that is the brewery business, Suzanne has discovered the magic of collaboration. Red Shed’s one-of-a-kind brews are a great way for the brewery to partner and promote local farms and spotlight their ingredients.

Suzanne’s collaboration extends to the Destination Marketing Corporation of Otsego County, where she serves on the board. Suzanne regularly offers help to the DMCOC while informing them of Red Shed’s local events and plans. She reinforces transparency as a valuable trait for any destination or company to have. By staying transparent, partners like local restaurants trust Red Shed and work with them to the benefit of both companies.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Aug 28, 2019

Jim Walter has been in the Destination Marketing world for the past 16 years. He got his start leading Madison County Tourism in upstate NY for 10 years as its executive director. For the past six years, he has led the sales and marketing efforts for Visit Cheyenne in Wyoming. He is a former president of the New York Travel and Vacation Association and is currently the president of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of PCMA. He enjoys creating memorable experiences that help grow the local economy through tourism.

Jim is an avid backpacker, runner, hunter, and snowshoer and enjoys spending as much time in the mountains as possible, and seeing his daughter and friends. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University and holds an M.S. in Service Management from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Jim is recognized as a Certified Destination Management Executive by Destinations International.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Jim Walter about how he meandered into destination marketing and the creative ways he continues to attract crowds to Cheyenne, Wyoming.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Some of the various meandering ways that people end up in the tourism industry, including Jim’s own story
  • How Jim earned his title as a Certified Destination Management Executive
  • The creative tactics and ideas Jim has employed in his various roles to compete in the tourism market
  • Jim’s strategies to bridge the generational gap and get young people interested in the Old West culture of Cheyenne
  • Some of the rich history of Cheyenne and Wyoming and how Jim and his colleagues use that to attract tourism and celebrate the destination
  • Features of good “co-opetition” in the tourism industry and what matters most to the tourists you attract
  • How Jim sees the travel marketing industry evolving and the best practices to keep up with this evolution

Meandering Into Destination Marketing

Jim Walter wanted to be a baseball broadcaster when he first entered college. During one of his summers he got to do just that, only to realize it wasn’t what he wanted. He worked in radio for a while until he got fired, which led him to take a job doing sales for the Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce. Ever since then, Jim has worked in destination marketing and has loved every minute of it.

Jim’s career has taken him from upstate New York to Cheyenne, Wyoming and taught him ways to be flexible and creative along the way. While working in Madison County, Jim experienced the advent of digital marketing and got the opportunity to improve the area’s hospitality industry in unique ways. He started “Mad Foods,” a food blog dedicated to telling the stories of cideries and farm-to-table restaurants in the county. This same creativity transferred over to his efforts for Cheyenne, where he decided to start wearing a cowboy hat, boots, and a buckle to conferences and networking events. He attracted attention and solidified the brand of Cheyenne as a real Old West destination.

These destinations have taught Jim how to play to his brand’s strengths without trying to make the destination something it’s not. This can sometimes present challenges, as it’s tempting to morph your brand into something new in order to fit with the times. In Cheyenne’s case, Jim knows that the Old West brand is a mainstay and that it’s best to integrate it with the modern day rather than scrap it completely.

History and Looking Forward

Many people don’t know of Wyoming’s rich history, and the younger generation continues to grow further removed from America’s Old West roots. In his “That’s My Cheyenne” video initiative, Jim had locals share the fun attractions that Cheyenne has, such as its nightlife, mountain biking trails, arts, and symphony. Cheyenne’s Frontier Days, the largest outdoor rodeo in the world, even hosted Post Malone, a stellar example of integration between a brand’s roots and modern times.

Once people are attracted to Wyoming and Cheyenne, they can continue to learn of the history of the area. Wyoming was the first U.S. territory to grant women the right to vote and the right to hold office, and Cheyenne has been celebrating the “Year of the Woman” to mark the law’s 150th anniversary. You can learn more about the state’s incredible women’s rights history in their newest inspirational video, “Cheyenne, Wyoming: The Birthplace of Women’s Suffrage” (link here: https://youtu.be/VOYkf_g79LQ).

As the tourism industry continues to evolve, Jim has plenty of best practices to keep up with the times. Jim reminds us to always leverage “co-opetition”, citing the Brew Central campaign of New York as a great example of collaboration between competitors. As it becomes easier to advertise and market your destinations via social media, Jim stresses how important it is to devote your resources first to building a place people will want to visit. If you do that, eventually people will want to live there, and then businesses will thrive there. This is great advice for any tourism professional, and I hope you commit it to your heart as you grow and progress all of your special destinations.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Aug 21, 2019

Josh Collins has a background grounded in live entertainment and experience design. He helps brands develop better rhythms of connecting with their audiences both online and off. After 15 years of traveling the world with brands like Stevie Wonder, The Roots, John Legend and more, Josh was attracted to take over and lead the Visit Franklin brand for Franklin, Tennessee, located just south of Nashville.

After five and a half years growing Franklin’s brand, developing their digital platform, and eventually increasing the visitation rate by 13.6% in 2018, Streetsense reached out to Josh and brought him on board to lead the Destination and Travel and Tourism practice. Now he’s honored to join countless other destinations and travel and tourism brands and help them grow their reach, connect with their audience, and create a healthier, more sustainable tourism product for their community.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Josh Collins about designing travel experiences that are personal and impactful and bringing together local communities to make memories for people all over the world.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How growing up around live music shaped the lens of Josh’s world
  • Josh’s affinity for digital and how he used it to help artists develop their brands
  • Different trends of personalization in travel and tourism
  • Tools that tourism boards are using to collect data that will help improve visitor experiences
  • The importance of activating local communities to create an attractive aura in the destination

Designing Experiences

Since he was six years old, Josh Collins has been on a tour bus alongside some of the most famous musicians in the world. Working with the likes of Stevie Wonder, The Roots, John Legend, and more, Josh has been exposed to destinations across the globe and been a part of numerous crowd-pleasing experiences. From this wild life, Josh learned what it takes to design memorable experiences and events for others to enjoy.

Josh and his company, Streetsense, have seized on a cliche trend in travel and tourism and breathed new life into it: personalization. When it comes to creating experiences that stick with people, the smallest details can have a big impact. Josh’s team ensures that destination staff are warm, personal, and always there to attend to their guests’ needs. Technology is employed to enable users to customize their experiences at Josh’s destinations, surveying and choosing the attractions they want to see and sharing their feedback with the rest of the world.

The point of it all is a connection. When trying to think of what attracts people to a destination, Josh calls to mind the little things we all might love about our hometowns: our favorite places to eat, parks to walk in, or spots to catch a breathtaking view. These are the things that connect us to locations; mimicking them can be an important tool to maximize satisfaction with experiences. Identifying those local gems and bringing them to people will satisfy the community and all of the lucky people who get to experience its hidden treasures.

Vibrant Destination and Learning From Others

On Destination On The Left, we talk a lot about collaboration and “co-opetition”. Josh Collins is a certifiable expert in these concepts, as his mission is to constantly team up with other partners to make his destinations and experiences successful. Streetsense’s “Vibrant Destination” program is the recipe for Josh’s experience architecture and design.

The program is all about synergy. That may sound like a buzzword, but it’s an important concept. Josh’s team ensures that all aspects of a destination are cooperating from top to bottom and receiving an equal voice in how to build a unique experience for tourists. Local businesses, concert venues, visitor bureaus, tourism agencies and more all work hand-in-hand to build successful experiences and places for people to visit again and again.

On a more personal level, Josh believes that the best way to collaborate is through mentorship and friendly conversation. A lack of conscious respect during conversation makes discourse and discussion difficult and the design process suffers as a result. If you respect someone’s work, you should take them out to coffee and ask them for help. Only through partnership and shared knowledge can we as tourism professionals continue to design experiences that will stay with people for a lifetime. I hope that Josh’s wisdom will inspire you to take the steps you need to start designing touching, impactful experiences for your tourists today.

Resources:

Episode Transcript

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Aug 14, 2019

Kevin Costello is the President of the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau, the official tourism promotion agency for Steuben County, NY. Kevin manages a team of five tourism professionals who tell the destination’s story with a strategic and research-based approach to increase accommodation occupancy and tourism expenditures within Steuben. In his previous position, Kevin served as Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the Town of Abingdon, Virginia. Kevin has developed several award-winning programs such as the Wine Trail of Botetourt County, the Upper James River Water Trail, the Abingdon Music Experience, and Rooted in Appalachia. Under Kevin’s leadership, the Abingdon Convention and Visitors Bureau was awarded Tourism Office of the Year by the Southeast Tourism Society in 2014.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Kevin about how creativity drives tourism marketing and how being a better collaborator increases your destination’s chances of success.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Kevin’s hospitality journey and how he fell in love with working in tourism
  • How Kevin has invested his creativity to generate unique projects for his various destinations
  • The process of building and troubleshooting a tourist destination and how to properly market for it
  • The challenges of running a visitors bureau and how Kevin has creatively overcome obstacles
  • How collaborations have helped Kevin’s projects come to fruition
  • Tips for finding mutual assets and best practices for being a better collaborator
  • Evolutions Kevin has observed in destination marketing, what his company is doing, and how he thinks the field will continue to change

Creativity in Tourism Marketing

Kevin Costello is the current President of the Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau. Kevin got his start in tourism marketing working at Montauk Point, Long Island, before earning a degree in travel management from Rochester Institute of Technology. He gained experience at resorts in Florida before pursuing his master’s degree in tourism management from the University of Tennessee.

Throughout his career, Kevin has occupied tourism positions in unique places, such as Danville, Virginia (AKA the last capital of the Confederacy); Margarita Island in Venezuela (sounds like torture, right?); Disney World; and the Finger Lakes region of New York. Running through it all was Kevin’s creativity, the engine that drove him to start rural Botetourt County’s tourism industry from scratch, create a winery tour, and put together the Upper James River Water Trail. Since working for Steuben County, Kevin has learned the importance of navigating government bureaucracy, mastering tourism fundamentals, and using all available channels to reach tourist audiences. He draws on experiences overhauling Abingdon’s tourism industry by marketing the Creeper Trail without upsetting town traditionalists who loved its main attraction, the Barter Theater.

Co-opetition and Creativity

Despite his successes, Kevin acknowledges the X factor I always come back to: collaboration, or “co-opetition.” To assemble his upcoming project for the Finger Lakes area, a trail that involves over 200 agrotourism attractions, Kevin is collaborating with professionals in a variety of agricultural industries, including alpaca and cheese.

Another collaborative project of Kevin’s, Rooted in Appalachia, saw collaboration with local nonprofits to increase sustainability for local farms. Using farmer’s markets, restaurant tours, websites, and more, Kevin’s team helped to push the farm-to-table philosophy to tourists and supported two different counties of 25 farms. In addition, Kevin’s team assembled a group of chefs to compete in the Cast Iron Cookoff in West Virginia and promote the area. As Kevin demonstrates, tourism marketing is equal parts hard work and fun reward!

To be a good collaborator, Kevin stresses how vital communication, brainstorming, commonality, and responsibility are for successful partnerships in the tourism industry. Don’t be afraid to shoulder a heavier or lighter load if your partners have different assets than you do. As long as you continue to pull your weight, invest your creativity, and have a little fun, tourism marketing partnerships will be one of the best decisions you make.

Resources:

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Aug 7, 2019

Brittany Gibson is the Executive Director of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Her experience with wine began as Advertising Director and Wine Club Manager at Fulkerson Winery, a position she held for 10 years. In her previous capacity at the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, Brittany was responsible for promoting Schuyler County’s tourism industry by creating and implementing tourism marketing and public relations programs. She was also responsible for developing and implementing programs to increase the visibility and credibility of the Chamber.

Brittany serves on the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council Board of Directors, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance Marketing Committee, the Schuyler County Planning Board, and the Community Development Corporation Board of Directors. She volunteers her time serving as the coordinator of her family’s charity organization, Team Charlie.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Brittany about the importance of partnership and “co-opetition” in promoting your destinations. Brittany explains how she sorts through the noise and keeps people coming back to Seneca Lake Wine Trail day after day.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Brittany’s experience of sorting through the noise and reaching the consumer as a travel marketer in the wine industry
  • The power of partnership and co-opetition in Brittany’s marketing strategies for wine and tourism
  • Why knowing your target audience and how to market to them is pivotal to your brand, with examples of Brittany’s “wine personas”
  • Leveraging state and private partnerships to advance your brand
  • Getting people engaged in your winery destinations, keeping them coming back, and growing your audience
  • Brittany’s best practices on helping partnerships function well and how to take charge in cooperative situations

Sorting Through the Noise

As destination marketers, Brittany and I are both very familiar with the noise that surrounds what we do and how it can hurt the connection between us and the consumer. For Brittany, it was important to realize that the brand and its mission were about the consumer and reaching them in a simplistic and user-friendly way.

Since starting her new job, Brittany and her team have staged a large-scale digital media buy to significantly increase Seneca Lake’s exposure to the public. In addition, Brittany has helped to launch a new website for the wine trail, giving consumers the opportunity to explore the wines and locations they’d like to try out.

In focusing her marketing efforts, Brittany has zeroed in on three distinct “wine personas” in Seneca Lake’s target audience. The first persona, the next-generation or millennial wine drinker, is the future of the wine tasting business. The second, the “wine is life” persona, covers 35- to 50-year-old women who love immersive wine experiences as much as the wines themselves. The third persona, the fine vintage wine drinkers, are baby boomers who know their wines inside and out.

The Power of Partnership

Market research, media buys, and web development aren’t easy to do alone. For Brittany, one of the most valuable assets to making all these works is the partnership network Seneca Lake has created. In growing Seneca Lake Wine Trail as a destination, Brittany has partnered with our very own Break the Ice Media to craft Seneca Lake’s message through social media and website content.

Alongside our partnership, Brittany has built connections with restaurants, tourist attractions, and chambers of commerce all around Seneca Lake. Brittany believes that by leveraging co-opetition with public and private partners, she and her team have helped turn Seneca Lake into a true tourist destination, not just a series of wineries.

Brittany’s network of partners collaborates extremely well. To form and maintain such strong partnerships and cooperation, Brittany tells our audience to take charge, trust their instincts, and have confidence in their experience to be successful. If you’re never afraid to learn and ask questions, your partnerships and business will flourish.

Resources:

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Jul 31, 2019

With a talent for creating special events that blossomed while working for her dad’s car stereo shop, Nicole Mahoney got her start in marketing at Frontier Field in Rochester. She also began serving as the executive director of the internationally known Lilac Festival. Later on, she headed the Canandaigua, New York Business Improvement District while also performing projects for the tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester.

In 2009, Nicole founded Break the Ice Media, with more than 20 years of experience in tourism marketing. She now hosts “Destination on the Left”, a highly successful tourism marketing podcast.

As a business owner, Nicole knows what it takes to be successful. She founded BTI to help businesses tell their brand story through public relations, digital and traditional channels. She has the ability to uncover unique marketing opportunities and develop marketing and public relations initiatives that help clients build long-term success.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, Nicole shares a personal family story that has inspired her to never give up even when the going gets tough. She explains why using this advice is important to all professionals and how applying it can make you a better tourism marketing specialist.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why you should always go for it – just like Nicole’s daughter
  • Changing the “soundtrack” in your head to conquer self-doubt
  • How to avoid “imposter syndrome” in your quest to pursue your dreams
  • How to own your experiences as a unique individual
  • The power of stories and their impact on our successes

Believing in Yourself

What inspires you to keep moving forward, no matter the obstacle? For Nicole, it’s the story of her daughter Maeve’s perseverance and strength in the face of self-doubt.

With the goal of being selected as the commencement speaker at her high school graduation, Maeve saw the competition and was filled with self-doubt. Stricken with “imposter syndrome”, Maeve believed she was not good enough and that there would always be somebody better for the job. Nicole quickly reminded her: “The only way to know for sure you won’t get picked is to not even try.”

Realizing she should aim for what she wanted, no matter the odds, Maeve took the leap and went for it. The result? She was selected as one of the two speakers at her commencement. From her success, tourism marketing professionals should always be reminded to aim high, go for it and never give up. You never know if you don’t try.

The Power of Stories

Maeve was inspired after being moved by the commencement speaker at her sister’s graduation. Nicole continues to be inspired by what Maeve shared in her speech: a personal story about great adversity.

Maeve suffers from chronic lung disease, a condition that put her in the emergency room for eight weeks in 2002. Despite a seemingly impossible uphill climb, Nicole, her husband and Maeve persisted, and Maeve was off of oxygen and medication without a transplant when she was five years old. Although she doesn’t remember much of it, Maeve was able to teach everyone the power of her own story and remind her parents of the power of theirs.

Stories like Maeve’s remind us of how different we are and how stories reach us differently. The one constant is this: we all have the power to see the good in stories, change the soundtrack in our heads and go for it. Nicole hopes that this episode and Maeve’s story will resonate with tourism marketing professionals just as much as they did for her.

Resources:

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Jul 17, 2019

Gina Nacey is president and executive creative director of Adventure Creative, an agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their focus is on active lifestyle brands, recreation, and destination marketing. Gina has led the strategy and creative direction of Explore Minnesota’s brand new “Find Your True North” campaign, and the Minnesota Zoo’s “Where Amazing Lives.” Adventure Creative helped Sun RV Resorts launch a signature tier of resorts – among much more great work.

Throughout her 20 year career, Gina’s work has been recognized with hundreds of Addy awards, including many Best of Show and Judge’s Choice awards. She was also honored with the American Advertising Federation Silver Medal for achievement in advertising.

Gina has taught advertising, copywriting, and public relations. She has traveled nationally to judge advertising competitions, worked on several nonprofit boards, and served in a variety of roles with the American Advertising Federation.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Gina about the creative and strategic work it takes to connect emotionally with your target audience to build a great brand. We talk collaboration and doing work that transcends ego to put the client’s needs first. 

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why solving business problems is the heart of marketing
  • How to make an emotional connection with people’s need to visit your destination
  • Why marketing needs a seat at the table in broader business decisions
  • How to use real experiences from visitors to tell your story
  • How to create truly collaborative relationships

Solving A Business Problem

Destination marketing is much more than finding the right words and images to describe your organization. Ultimately it is about solving a business problem to bring visitors to you again and again.

Gina describes her education and experience and how that connects directly with the wide range of skills needed to help solve destination business problems. She said, “We are never doing creative for creative sake. We’re always trying to solve a problem. That requires looking at the numbers and understanding the audience and understanding what the client is really trying to achieve.”

Whether you’re in the agency business, or you’re a DMO or a tour operator, or working in a museum; whatever your role is, you’re there to solve that business problem, move the organization forward, and meet visitor needs.

For Real Co-opetition

Whatever aspect of travel and tourism you are in, you want to win the business. We all know that co-opetition is sometimes the best way for a rising tide to lift all boats. But what if you are competing for exactly the same client at the same time?

That’s the situation Gina found herself in. When an RFP went out for a job, her company was a strong contender. It was between Adventure and another agency local to the client. That’s when Gina said, “Why don’t we share the work? They can do PR, and we can do the branding side and collaborate on everything.” The client was shocked that they would agree to that.

The project turned out well, and the collaboration was real. They made decisions based on what was best for the client. Everyone checked their ego at the door, and that made everyone a winner. We make a point to weave co-opetition into the podcast for exactly these reasons.

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/

Jul 10, 2019

Mandy Hagadorn serves as marketing manager at New York Kitchen, an event and education space for all things food and beverage in New York State. She grew up on a farm near Canandaigua, New York. She graduated with a degree in anthropology from Nazareth College. After college, Mandy got involved with event planning in both her personal and professional life. At New York Kitchen, she started as an event planner and quickly moved into the marketing manager position.

She still loves organizing the Craft Beer Festival and is excited about a brand new bourbon-focused festival she’s spearheading for New York Kitchen.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Mandy Hagadorn of New York Kitchen about everything from event planning to rebranding. How do you manage a massive rebranding campaign? How do you plan an event from scratch and keep existing events fresh? We’ve got great answers and inspiring conversation in store on this episode.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How to avoid mission creep when you offer a variety of programs and activities
  • The challenge and opportunity of managing a rebrand process
  • How to turn events into memorable experiences
  • Keys to a good partnership
  • Simple ways for businesses to work together to make shoulder seasons more profitable

Offering Variety Around a Unified Mission

New York Kitchen offers a lot of activity: classes, special events, and a place to dine on everything New York State has to offer. Mandy and I talk about how to create a unified mission around a wide variety of programs and activities. With everything a geographically large and diverse state has to offer, how do you stay on point? It’s a challenge Mandy enjoys tackling, and she has some good advice on avoiding mission creep.

Managing a Rebrand

NY Kitchen wasn’t always New York Kitchen. Up until about a year ago, it was called the New York Wine and Culinary Center. But as craft beverages of all kinds have expanded in recent times, “wine and culinary center” did not capture the fullness of what New York has to offer.

If you have ever been involved in rebranding a place with some history and a current fanbase you don’t want to alienate, you know it can be an exciting and stressful experience. Mandy and I talk candidly about some unexpected challenges she and her team needed to overcome in the process.

But the process made them stronger – staying connected with those loyal customers but also showing who they were to a new target demographic. She reflected, “The biggest challenge we faced here at New York Kitchen was the rebrand. But the biggest blessing that we’ve had here at New York Kitchen is the rebranding.” This is a great conversation to listen in on for ideas on what to expect and anticipate as you rebrand a known entity.

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/

Jun 26, 2019

Drew McLellan is a marketing veteran who has run his own agency for over 25 years, helping clients create authentic love affairs with their customers. He also helps other agency owners learn how to take their business to the next level through cohort groups and resources through Agency Management Institute. He loves to create “Aha” moments for his clients, peers, and audiences across, through vivid storytelling, Italian heritage-inspired hand gestures, and the occasional tipping of a sacred cow.

Drew is also one of the world’s top marketing and branding bloggers according to Ad Age’s top 150 index. Recently, he has appeared in The New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Week and Fortune Small Business. The Wall Street Journal calls him “One of the 10 bloggers that every entrepreneur should read.”

On this episode of Destination on the Left host, I talk with Drew about what it takes to build a great relationship with your marketing agency. Getting your destination’s message out to your ideal customers is getting more complex, not less. Open communication and confidence in your agency are crucial. It’s a wide-ranging conversation with great tips on knowing what to look for and expect from a great agency.

 

What You Will Learn:

  • How to vet marketing agencies to find the right fit
  • Why finding an agency that specializes in destination marketing is important
  • How to have an open and honest relationship with your marketing agency
  • How to handle tough conversations with your agency
  • Best practices you should look for when hiring and working with an agency

Marketing Collaboration

We’re a long way from the Mad Men days. It’s no longer enough for an agency to swoop in to tell you the messages you need to spread, and purchase airtime and print space and make it to that 3 martini lunch by 11:30.

The channels available for your messages are almost limitless, and the work is much more complex. Clients and agencies are, or should be, working more collaboratively to discover customer personas, define the buyer’s journey, and craft the right messages to grow your business. In the conversation, Drew made this observation, “A great agency is really a great business advisor. It’s much broader than deciding what ad you are going to put on Facebook or running a radio spot.”

When it comes to agency relationships, marketing collaboration is the name of the game, you want an agency who plays that way.

Setting Expectations

A great agency relationship starts with good communication. This needs to happen at two levels. You need time and space to communicate voice-to-voice and face-to-face, along with the texting and email communication that happens while doing business. One piece of communication Drew mentions that clients and agencies too often overlook: gratitude. Saying thanks when your collaboration partner goes above and beyond the call of duty goes a long way in shaping a strong relationship.

The second part of setting clear expectations is getting it in writing. Also, put it in writing! Make a good contract that makes expectations clear. Drew’s vast experience leads him to the following conclusion: “Whatever the problem is, I promise you it’s not just the agency’s fault and it’s never just the client’s fault either.”

A great relationship with your marketing agency doesn’t just happen. This episode is full of tips, steps and best practices for making the most of your marketing dollars through that agency relationship.

Resources:

  • Website: https://www.mclellanmarketing.com/
  • Website: https://agencymanagementinstitute.com/

Episode Transcript

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Jun 24, 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 final episode of the series, I share my conversations with:

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How seven different counties partnered for Oneida County Tourism’s “Bike Thru History” program, intended to highlight Revolutionary War destinations for visiting cyclists and to bring new cycling enthusiasts to the region
  • How a character named the Unexpected Buffalo was featured in a wide-ranging marketing campaign across many forms of digital media, showcasing the numerous experiences and destinations on offer in Buffalo
  • How a unique partnership between a state agency and a local chamber of commerce led to the construction of a brand new Welcome Center at Watkins Glen State Park, showcasing not only the park but the other events and destinations in the community

Oneida County Tourism

Kelly Blazosky from Oneida County Tourism discusses their award-winning "Bike Thru History" program, developed in partnership between Oneida County and six other counties. She shares how the program was developed as a way to engage biking enthusiasts and give them an opportunity to bicycle to important historical sites from the Revolutionary War throughout the region. Kelly explores how they engaged cycling professionals to help determine how to interconnect looping bike paths of varying challenge levels that would also connect with the historical sites. She shares how they developed thirty new routes for cyclists, using the Erie Canalway corridor as the main branch from which the paths would extend. She also discusses how they created a website to showcase the newly looping routes, and how they connected with a cycling route and GPS app to include the routes. Kelly explains how coordination between the various groups and assets and keeping clear communication were key to the program's success. She shares her pride in winning an Excellence Award and her gratitude toward all of the partners involved.

Visit Buffalo Niagara

Patrick Kaler from Visit Buffalo Niagara discusses their "Unexpected Buffalo" marketing campaign featuring the character of the same name and his journeys through the destinations and experiences available in Buffalo. He explains how the campaign was launched across 30-second TV spots, print ads, newspapers and magazines, transit advertising, and across social media. He discusses how the target markets for the campaign included Toronto, Rochester, Erie, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. Patrick shares how the Unexpected Buffalo character is a fully-realized and interactive creation with his own social media presence. He also discusses how the Unexpected Buffalo campaign generated more than $108 million in its first year alone, for a return on investment of $84 for every $1 spent. He shares how the idea for the Unexpected Buffalo campaign was developed almost exclusively in-house and why taking risks and being bold were important to the success of the campaign. He discusses how being recognized by the state and peers is a great thing to take back to stakeholders.

Watkins Glen State Park and Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce

Ron Roney from Watkins Glen State Park discusses renovations to the park and the inclusion of a welcome center located at the main entrance of the park, done in collaboration with the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce, and he shares how it has made a major impact on the community. Rebekah LaMoreaux from the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce shares how the Chamber partnered with the Park as an opportunity to share with visitors the many other opportunities Watkins Glen has on offer. Ron shares how his biggest takeaway from the project was that the collaboration between a state agency such as the Park and the local tourism services can offer powerful benefits to both parties. Rebekah shares how she learned that promoting tourism is everyone in the community's job. Ron talks about the honor he felt at being recognized for their work, and he shares the pride he feels at contributing toward the positive impact the collaboration is making to the entire region. Rebekah shares her surprise and joy that the state agency gave the project their stamp of approval in the first year, and she discusses the potential of future partnerships.

Overview

These 2018 NYSTIA Tourism Excellence Award winners truly demonstrate how thinking outside the box can create tremendous new opportunities. From unique partnerships to original characters, these organizations prove that successful tourism marketing requires creative thought, fresh ideas and teamwork. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of episodes and learning from the 2018 NYSTIA Tourism Excellence Award winners across all three episodes. Please remember that you can now submit nominations for the 2019 awards by following the link in the resources section below. Thank you for listening!

Resources:

Jun 19, 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 a unique and powerful collaboration between The Wild Center and many other regional partners led to the creation of their award-winning GoNorth program, a travel itinerary that promotes destinations all across the region
  • How Destination Niagara USA completed a massive brand refresh that made a major international impact, allowing the American side of the falls to better differentiate itself from the Canadian side
  • How Rachel Laber Pulvino finds great joy in being Visit Rochester’s “Chief Storyteller”, and how winning the Young Professional Award has given her a new perspective on teamwork and leadership

The Wild Center

Nick Gunn of The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, New York describes their award-winning GoNorth program, a tour-based travel itinerary focused on the international market that includes destinations across northern New York and the Adirondacks, developed in a unique collaboration with the Adirondack Coast Visitors Bureau, the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, Fort Ticonderoga, High Peaks Resort, the Saratoga Convention & Tourism Bureau, and the Warren County Tourism Department. He shares some of the many destinations and experiences available on the itinerary, and he explains why the GoNorth program has been able to promote some of the lesser-known destinations in the area and create new revenue streams for the region. He shares the strength of the partnerships that have made GoNorth a compelling itinerary and a great success. He talks about learning of the remarkable number of gems the region offers during the development of the program. He shares how receiving the Tourism Award has been a powerful motivator to continue the work the collaboration is doing.

Destination Niagara USA

Julie Gilbert from Destination Niagara USA discusses their major brand repositioning effort in 2017 that rebuilt their brand architecture from the ground up, with new marketing and photography and a new website. She shares how their new digital outreach generated 6.8 million consumer engagements and $114.6 million in incremental visitor spending, resulting in 111 times their return on investment. She shares the goal of the rebranding to make a more active experience for visitors as summarized by the new tagline “Niagara Falls USA: Where Adventure Comes Naturally”, and she discusses how the rebranding resulted in a younger average consumer age and a higher average consumer income spend. She discusses using physical branding upgrades as a method to promote the new message. She shares how a visit from an Associated Press reporter’s report on the brand relaunch was picked up internationally and generated over 500 million publication impressions. She shares how Niagara Falls USA is working to differentiate their experience offering from what is being offered on the Canadian side of the falls. She shares the lessons learned from doing a major brand refresh for the first time, and she discusses the pride and honor she feels at receiving a

Tourism Excellence Award: Rachel Laber Pulvino of Visit Rochester

Rachel Laber Pulvino with Visit Rochester discusses the honor of winning the Young Professional Award, and she shares her background in public relations, communication and marketing and how her unique skill set has benefited her in her role during her three years with Visit Rochester. She discusses her joy at being Visit Rochester’s “Chief Storyteller” and her excitement at being able to talk about her community with the media, bloggers, and social media influencers. She discusses the professional and leadership growth she has experienced over the last year, and she shares how her mindset toward teamwork and contribution has changed. She shares how honored she feels being selected by her peers to receive a Tourism Excellence Award, and she discusses the remarkable sense of community she feels working with tourism professionals across the state of New York.

Overview

The remarkable thing about each of these 2018 NYSTIA Tourism Excellence Award winners is their deep, authentic and infectious enthusiasm for the work they are doing and the impact it is making on their local communities and on tourism across the state. From The Wild Center’s incredible wide-ranging collaboration with other organizations in their region, to Destination Niagara USA’s commitment to rebranding and reaching new audiences both locally and internationally, to Rachel Laber Pulvino’s passion for her community and for sharing the story of Rochester, these award winners truly demonstrate that enthusiasm and dedication are the keys to creating remarkable campaigns that absolutely deserve to be honored by their peers.

Resources:

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