September 25, 2012 at 02:08pm
"Satisfaction is dangerous."
"Go the extra inch."
If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you'd have seen a number of posts from The Big E in West Springfield. Representing the Hampshire County Regional Tourism, along with my good friend, Greater Northampton Chamber director Suzanne Beck, I attended the 25th Annual Governor's Conference on Travel and Tourism last Thursday. The Hampshire County RTC is still relatively new; this is our second full funding cycle in 2012-13. Formed in 2010 in Governor Patrick's economic development bill, and championed by State Sen. Stan Rosenberg, the HCRTC is still in its formative stages.
This year's Governor's Conference, organized by the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, was a terrific event. Our keynote speaker, Jeff Noel of the Disney Leadership Institute, kept the audience rapt with a fast paced, humorous, and informative speech about getting employees to buy into a company's mission by being invested, and living in the moment. With the goal of doing more than what is expected in each encounter, we get the most out of our employees - and ourselves. An admitted skeptic of corporate training, this particular presentation hit me. I took much more out of it than expected. It was pretty Zen.
The Governor was also on hand, and rallied those in the tourism and hospitality industries. In all, 2011-12 was a good rebound year for Massachusetts tourism. Jobs and receipts are up statewide, as is hotel revenue. Governor Patrick reported that the industry is the third highest employer with over 124,000 workers, bringing in over 16.9 million in direct spending, $3.6 billion in wages, and $1.1 billion in local and state taxes.
What does this mean for Hampshire County? With the formation of the RTC and robust participation from industry partners, we hope to increase visitation to our unique slice of the Valley. Over our first full year of state funding, we've forged important partnerships with our sister agencies in Greater Springfield and Franklin County, commissioned vital consumer research to inform our strategic marketing platform and better understand the Hampshire County visitor. In short order we hope to complete our marketing plan and create our new integrated website and social media platform that will enhance the new Hampshire County brand, while supporting and supplementing our neighbors in Western Massachusetts.
We have a unique opportunity as a start-up to do things well, with research, and the experience of other agencies as our guide. With continued regional cooperation with our partners at the Northampton and Easthampton Chambers, the Amherst and Northampton BIDs and sister tourism agencies, we might better leverage our resources to create a visitor experience that truly delivers on the Disney promise to make each vacation the best vacation the visitor has ever had.