Heritage Tourism Marketing: Promote Your Whole Region, Not Just A Single Amenity
by Ron Mattocks
Every museum, state park, attraction and other venue is part of a region with outstanding lifestyle amenities. Promote them all; don’t choose one.
Promoting a region’s various amenities, rather than a single event or place, will attract far more tourists and residents when you are using heritage tourism marketing dollars.
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You can build excitement and enhance heritage tourism when you create a team of stakeholders and they all understand the goals and objectives of promoting a region and its amenities. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Heritage tourism tourists are looking for some history, shopping, dining, sports, and recreation, not just one event or attraction. Visitors want them all, and they don’t want to have to work to make it happen. Engage visitors to experience more than just one event or place.
- Collaborative efforts of community stakeholders to promote an area make it easier to attract visitors, businesses, and residents. This kind of effort can increase the possibilities that the good news is spread far and wide.
- Establishing a collaborative effort among stakeholders in a community might take some time, but heritage tourism marketing works when everyone buys into a complete marketing strategy that invites visitors to your region.
For example, a bus tour might have a main destination of a concert, ball game or historical tour. But along the way, the tour might stop at a winery, a brewery, a quaint shopping location, a museum, a novel lookout point or an outdoor recreation site.
History enthusiasts who love old homes will want to see the Baldwin Reynolds House Museum while other history buffs might enjoy the Johnson Shaw Stereoscopic Museum. Outdoor recreation fans will want to visit Woodcock Lake Park, Tamarack Lake, Woodcock Creek Lake or the Helen B. Katz Natural Area, among other places. They might also want to stop in at Voodoo Brewery for a local craft brew. This is just a sampling of attractions.
Every locale has a lot to offer, and variety is exactly what tourists want. Promoting all the attractions takes some expertise, but it’s possible.
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With some encouragement and help from marketers, stakeholders can organize, get involved and move an idea forward that markets an entire area rather than one entity.
Five years ago, downtown Meadville business owners worked together to form the Meadville Independent Business Alliance. Christine Yamrick, owner of Chateau Christine, a lifestyle boutique, and president of MIBA for three years, said the group had common goals. “We wanted to benefit the whole community in general and bring everyone together,” she said.
The sense of community has been increasing, and MIBA holds regularly scheduled special events in which businesses stay open later and offer refreshments and other deals. Cookie Walks, First Fridays, Second Saturdays, holiday events, and themes have all drawn customers into downtown.
The group capitalizes on a variety of themes that appeal to numerous demographics. A catwalk theme ties into international September fashion week that takes place in New York and Paris. “We have our own entertainment and live models. We shut down the street,” Yamrick said.
During the December holidays, MIBA holds a special light-up night in Diamond Park. Last year, the event brought in 30 ice sculptures. It was the brainchild of current MIBA president Heather Fish.
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Heritage Marketing In Action
At Bull Moose Progressive Marketing, we’ve been a part of Meadville’s downtown since 2017. We formulated a heritage tourism marketing plan for Crawford County Convention & Visitors Bureau in marketing lakes and other attractions with a website overhaul, social media and email.
We also worked on a project for Allegheny College; here, the goal was to introduce and acquaint students with the downtown Meadville area and community. We developed a plan and an interactive map that helped students learn about businesses, bus routes and more in the region. We documented the success in a case study, Community Engagement Strategy.
While working to promote your event, business or region, remember that it’s best to engage motivated business owners and community stakeholders to collaborate with you. Together, your efforts will encourage and invite patrons to a diverse offering of attractions with destination tourism in mind.
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