Franklin County tourism head talks plans for Harrietstown

MALONE — Franklin County legislators received an update on efforts to promote tourism across the region prior to their regular meeting at the courthouse last Thursday.

Phil Hans, the county’s director of tourism, detailed promotional efforts, starting with Saranac Lake’s partnership with media company Bing Bang Boom, Inc., a commercial video production firm based in the Adirondack village.

He said Saranac Lake partnered with the company and developed a plan to spend $20,000 on five videos promoting tourism in that community and in Harrietstown.

The funding for these efforts goes through the county to the municipalities, and those municipalities must show, in detail, how the money will be used before it is released by the county. Hans said this policy gives the county a measure of control over how exactly the money is being spent, and ensures the messaging meets county needs.

“The first three videos did not have a strong enough tourism theme to them, so they’ve reworked the first three,” Hans told lawmakers. “The tagline now is ‘come for a visit, stay for a lifetime.'”

He said this was followed by “frank discussions” between the village of Saranac Lake, Harrietstown, Bing Bang Boom, and the county tourism office in which the production company was asked to focus more heavily on tourism in the final two videos they were contracted to produce.

He said the first video will focus on “winter fun” in the southern end of the county, including Saranac Lake’s Ice Palace, ice fishing, and other cold weather attractions in the area. The second features local businesses such as the Hotel Saranac and Origin Coffee.

Hans said the new tagline represents a common theme in tourism promotion work.

“That is one of the goals of tourism,” he said. “Take your destination, bring a visitor in, and potentially convert them to a lifetime resident or a repeat visitor.”

“You’re satisfied with the content at this point?” county manager Donna Kissane asked.

Hans said that if the final two videos match the shot list and script he has been provided, then he will be satisfied with the return on the county’s investement. No money has yet been paid to the production company, and the earmarked funding is from 2022.

“If you all decide to actually pay them for the paid media placements, there’s a couple of stipulations that I would like to have in the contract,” Hans explained. He said one of those stipulations would be that his office receive analytics on the advertisement placements.

“What we don’t know is what the vendor’s commission is,” Hans said. “So if we’re spending $20,000, let’s make sure we’re getting $20,000 worth of advertising.”

He said a second stipulation would be that the tourism advisory council see videos and other promotional materials before money is released, another step to ensure the county’s desired message is properly conveyed.

The total cost to the county for these efforts will be $35,000, with $15,000 going into media placements.

He said the TAC is seeking authorization to pay $35,000 to two other area initiatives, with the Malone Recreation Commission receiving support for the splash pad and pool and Tupper Lake gaining funds to pay the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) for promotional work.

Hans said when the tourism contract between the Local Development Corporation (LDC) and TAC was suspended due to uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, it left a $35,000 bill with ROOST.

“There was some discussion at TAC that in the spirit of what was to be accomplished it was brought forth that there was a desire to make good on that agreement,” Hans said. No contract was ever signed.

County lawmakers approved the $35,000 to both Saranac Lake and Malone, but asked for a list of deliverables before paying Tupper Lake for the work of ROOST.

“I would rather see the goods, then pay for it,” Paul Lauzon, D-Fort Covington, said.

Legislators will vote on the Tupper Lake funding after requesting the list of deliverables from ROOST.


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