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Can we Package a Community?
June 11, 2012 - Ernest Hohmeyer
It really comes down to people.
It comes down to you and me.
Maybe it always has.
Perhaps it’s also about understanding other people.
It is not just knowing your customer, it may also be having a better understanding of your community and fellow businesses.
We may forget the basics sometimes.
Why Are We Really Doing This?
We are so busy tweeting, pinning, blogging, Facebooking and updating our web sites to mobile applications, are we forgetting that all of these are just tools?
Tools to reach people?
Do we even remember anymore who it is that we are trying to reach? Do we know what they like, where they are from, how old they are – what THEY like? When was the last time we tried to put a face to the cyberspace symbol?
And are all those faces of our customers the same? Or do different people visit our community and our stores. If we were asked by a crime unit to sketch their appearance, their demeanor and how they behaved - could we?
Oh yes, the business analyst’s would call this marketing intelligence. And that’s the trouble with some of this business stuff. It becomes so complicated or time consuming we run away from it to do some other day; it becomes its own artificial intelligence.
Or worse yet, we attempt to do something in this world of social media and begin to feel like a wood pecker banging away at a tree only to discover it is Frankenpine.
We actually feel worse for trying. It’s like starting a renovation project to replace a window only to discover the sill is rotted, there is inadequate insulation in the wall, the electrical outlet is outdated, the foundation is cracked and the family of chipmunks you discovered is warmer than you are.
Perhaps the question is not what “update” do I want to give today but what kind of people do I want to reach and are they the ones that will really help my business? What can I say that interests them, which makes my message stand out in the daily deluge of Seinfeld nothingness?
Link as a Community
They tell us we should link. Link everywhere and as often as you can.
As a community we talk to each other on the street. We go to business mixers. We know that Mark owns a music shop and Dan does wellness.
But do we really know what they do? Besides talking have we “linked” with them? Are we connecting with our own community as best as we can?
Many of our businesses are so small. None of us can do all the marketing by ourselves.
But is there a larger question here? Can our own individual businesses, by themselves, attract all the customers we want?
Do people travel to this community because of one restaurant, a retail store or even one of our attractions?
But at the “Tomorrow’s Tourism” Conference held last week attended by a host of regional, state and international tourism organizations we heard point- blank that today’s visitor is looking for a diverse experience.
If we cannot by ourselves, offer the entire experience that today’s traveler is looking for, we may need to understand our own community resources better than ever.
We may need to not only know what they offer, but how we can link and package with them.
Adirondack Cruise Ship Experience
One of the most popular vacations today is the cruise ship experience. Perhaps we need to think like an “Adirondack Cruise Ship experience.” We certainly have enough water.
What does this mean?
When you travel a cruise ship, there is a whole package of experiences they offer. Meals, lodging, entertainment and use of amenities such as on-board shopping and spas are just a few.
However, there is a whole slew of “add-ons” that you can experience. That is other activities that you pay for additionally. You can choose none, one or them all.
Here is another thing we heard at the Conference: pick a theme.
Have you noticed the cruise ships doing the same thing? Wine tasting cruises, historical, adventure are samples.
Can we do the same?
Can we band together to create an “Adirondack cruise ship experience”
Is it possible to pick a theme that includes not only our lodging and restaurants for that “basic experience’ but also includes our shopping, venues like the Carousel, the VIC, and train station?
But hang on there is more opportunities. We include packages with performances, wellness activities and historical tours.
Are we doing a lot of this now. Sure we are. But they are mainly listed as individual events or under “restaurants” or “shopping.”
A Community Package
What about a package? A themed, diverse, collaborative effort talked about at the “Tomorrow’s Tourism” Conference? Just like a cruise ship where we offer 2 day, 5 day and even week long experiences?
For example an “Adirondack Fall Harvest Festival” or an “Adirondack Beer Festival” that includes lodging and dining packages with shopping, entertainment, recreation and wellness activities?
These are not just a “list” of activities packages but where folks can choose from a “menu” of activities. The Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism does some of that now with “Create Your Own Day” listings. This would grow on this idea and the concepts detailed at the Conference by offering themed, targeted packages.
The whole objective is put together an experience that appeals to people and gets them to stay longer. Do folks looking at our area really have a good sense of all of things we have to offer?
If they do not, perhaps it’s up to me and you, together, to tell them – in one package.
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