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Reimagining New York

May 16th, 2008 · No Comments · Destination Marketing

Ever since I saw the reference to I Am Legend and the post-apocalyptic squirrel on grassy logo, I can’t stop seeing Will Smith dancing around as the Fresh Prince. I love that show.

A fun and relatively productive Governor’s Tourism Shindig was the activity of the day. It’s good to “come down from the hills” and see some city people every now and then. I even got a haircut just for the occasion. I’ll give you my highlights and some bonus pictures after the jump.

Opening Remarks

Peter Greenberg, NBC’s Travel Editor loosened up the crowd before introducing Dan Gunderson, Upstate ESDC Commissioner, NYSDED who joked about his job. Gunderson doesn’t seem like a guy who is on his way out. I guess Greenberg has some street cred as a travel guy and he is kind of funny too.

Brands: “What will people want?” “What will the market value?”

He stressed authenticity in advertising. He also mentioned the power of Word-of-Mouth. But, get this, Travel 2.0 was the term he used.

Also, Greenberg has a book due out this Fall, Don’t Go There – Must Miss Places in the World. Should be a fun list.

Gunderson also gave the Adirondack PBS Special a mention. Each registration bag had a promo copy which is nice since all of the attendees last night were busy drinking. Well, not all of them, but “a few”. I wasn’t there, but I believe what people tell me and report it here.

It seems that we have 155 million visitors a year right now who spend $47 billion. Gunderson says the goal by 2020 is 200 million and $60 billion. That’s realistic, but not easy.

General Session

Thomas Ranese, CMO, ESD gave a summary of the state’s tourism research which identified both opportunities and issues. Basically, I Love NY doesn’t work for the rest of the state because most people think NYC. That, plus a general lack of awareness of the resources available in the rest of the state is the challenge. Repositioning the brand to make it represent the entire state, while retaining the positive equity it currently has will attempt to solve that problem.

The research also pointed to three opportunities:

  1. 80 million people within 3-5 hours of New York State.
  2. New Yorkers that traveled, 2/3 left the state for vacation
  3. Currency Values – Canada, Pound, Euro make travel to US attractive

Of course, that results in targeting our regional feeder markets with advertising which will entice them into short, drive-in getaways. The message? I didn’t hear any complaints, so if you’ve seen the ads, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

I LOVE NEW YORK: The brand story

Who better to tell the story of our “new” brand than Mary Baglivo, CEO New York and Chairman & CEO Americas, Saatchi & Saatchi?

I totally get it, I got it before, and I’ll probably hear it again – Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands.

Big news: Cheerios=Lovemark. Eh, who knew. Her Starbuck’s example also was a bit dated.

Creative Director, Allison Gragnano got up and went through the creative – that means ads for you noobs. I particularly like the fun morphing logo video set to the I Love NY tune. It would make a fun avatar. Check the photoset.

Morning Workshops

I chose to see Lou Rena Hammond, President, LH & A over Culinary Tourism, ROI Rules, or Economic Development and Tourism. Not that I need PR 101, but it is fun to see the agency-of-record’s take on things.

Honestly, I am impressed with her accomplishments and her knowledge of the traditional PR world. In fact, her run-down on methodology could be the text book for such activity. I seriously thought she was going to knock the glass of water off the podium. She kind of reminded me of Carol Burnett, and I mean that in a good way.

Hey PR folks, in terms of traditional, we are right on track and we could serve as a case study for her “method”.

Luckily, time was running out as she was forced to address Social Media. At least she recognized it and called it a “revolution”. The social media elephant seemed to force its way into every conversation.

Her advice: “Act Big and use the The Associated Press Stylebook.”

Next, I had to choose from “Interview the Interviewers”, Green Travel, International Visitors, or National Travel Trends. Since I was too busy blabbing during the “networking” break, I was forced to make a hasty decision.

Scott Hanson, President and CEO, Longwoods International went over his firm’s research and findings about national travel trends. Did I mention I almost fell into a coma? Not that there was anything wrong with the information or topic, I just think Scott was using some kind of hypnosis technique as some kind of prank on the audience. No news here.


My pal at the New York Bicycling Coalition showed and informed me that they got an ExploreNY grant! Very cool and Let’s Ride!

Best conference food I’ve had in a long time. Plus they set up quad-buffet lines. Not a lot of time to chit-chat.

Heard this: “If my board approved it in Second Life, why won’t they do it in reality?”

Afternoon Workshops

My next session was determined since I agreed to “moderate”. The three speakers I had the pleasure to introduce could have had a session each, or an entire conference devoted to the subject matter. As it was, they got a very short 15 minutes each and no time for questions.

David Pavelko, Travel Team Manager, New York, Google Inc. spoke first. I think he successfully brushed by every Google product of relevance. Gads, we need more time for this huge topic. Any DMO currently not taking advantage of all that Google offers is seriously missing the boat. Ourselves included.

Victoria Treyger, Vice President, Marketing, Travelocity then jumped up. I love geeky women like this. Again, a giant in the industry, 15 minutes. We want more!

News: The Roaming Gnome will travel NYS’s 11 Vacation Regions and blog about it.

Chris Holtane, Senior Director of Strategy, Orbitz Worldwide got somewhat shorted at the end, but did manage to fly through his presentation. What can I say, here’s another person representing a giant in the industry.

They all talked about the importance of Search and Organic Optimization. Flash website authors should sit up and take notice. They all also stressed the importance of UGC and especially the monitoring and encouraging of user-reviews. They all pointed to YouTube as an important tool. They all said that unique, specific, and relevant content created and distributed via the Travel 2.0 channels is the future. The future is now.

Dave, Chris, and Victoria, here are my follow-up questions, but anyone in the world is free to chime in:

  1. What is the future for Google and Travel? Will there ever be a “”? What would it feature? Would Google ever buy Kayak?
  2. As an extremely unproductive Google Local Business Representative, I’m very interested in “helping” every business in my area take control of their Local Business Listing. Could a DMO become a LBR? Where are all the places that a Local Business Listing can appear?
  3. Why should DMO’s consider AdSense as a feature of their website?
  4. Many properties in the Adirondacks are independent or small. What can we do to get them connected to GDS?
  5. What role can DMO’s play in helping their hotels and attractions gain attention in the OTA sphere?
  6. When it comes to Travel 2.0, should DMO’s spend more time creating or aggregating content?
  7. Will Orbitz or Travelocity or any OTA create a robust set of affiliate tools specifically tailored for destination websites? Example, easy property specific links or rate tools.

Closing Remarks

Will Rodgers, SHR Perceptual Management gave a great talk on Brand Perceptions. Brilliant insights there on their experiences with VW and Fairmont Hotels. I think we need a company like this to help us with our branding issues too. Guess what? When you have a clear idea of your brand, you’ve already determined your mission and objectives. The hard work is in the brand-building and brand-marketing. Nuff said. Long Lake here I come. (inside joke).

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