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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: August, 2019
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

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/

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

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/

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:

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/

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:

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/

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