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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: October, 2019
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

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 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

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 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!

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