REGIONAL CHAMBER SHARES BRANDING SECRETS AT 35TH ANNUAL VERMONT TOURISM SUMMIT
Manchester, Vermont | The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, serving the Shires of Vermont region, had some of its key people speak at this year’s Vermont Tourism Summit. The Summit, attended by over 300 tourism-based agencies, businesses and stakeholders, was held on Wednesday, April 11 and Thursday, April 12 in Manchester, Vermont at the historic Equinox Resort.
Matt Harrington, the executive director of the Chamber, opened the summit on Wednesday as part of a 4-person panel discussing the evolving Vermont brand. Michael Jager of Solidarity of Unbridled Labour, Sas Stewart of Stonecutter Spirits, and Hans van Wees of Hotel Vermont joined Harrington on stage. The panel discussed the ongoing efforts of the Vermont brand to be relevant and modern in an age of ever evolving marketing and branding strategies and tools.
Additionally, Harrington, along with the Chamber’s creative marketing manager Joe Frey, followed up on Thursday with a session entitled, “Making Vermont Cool…Again.” In the one-hour session participants heard from the Chamber staff on how specifically the Bennington Area Chamber has aggressively adopted an entrepreneurial spirit and culture to quickly and nimbly identify ways to make their part of Vermont cool, hip and modern. With good design, modern technology and a constant itch to ask, “would we go to this if we saw this?” the chamber team discussed how they’re working to advance creativity, innovation and diversity in the Shires of Vermont.
Harrington took the first half of the presentation to discuss how to implement a change agenda in tourism organizations and businesses. He also included some of the Chamber’s ongoing mantras which included: innovating on your way to innovation, creating a narrative belonging, getting greedy with talent, communicating to the 10th power, learning from competition and creating a community of ambassadors to share in the vision.
“If there was any message to take away I think we, as a state and tourism organizations, do not do enough to encourage a culture of innovation, creativity, speed to market, pivoting, and failure. “ Harrington said during his presentation. “We must relearn how to communicate our core narrative with new tools and systems. We are currently in a time when media and storytelling have become so affordable and compelling. Vermont is made of pioneers, innovators, craftspeople and hard workers. We can do this better.”
Joe Frey, who manages many of the creative aspects of the evolving “Shires of Vermont” brand, discussed with the audience in the second half of the presentation how the Chamber brand and its vision of the Shires of Vermont region has evolved in the past 3 years. He also encouraged the audience to create brand standards, to look at different designs for inspiration and to have patience with a brand as it evolves.
Included in the presentation was a quick unveiling of the 2018-2019 Shires of Vermont Visitors Guide, of which the chamber will produce 75,000 copies distributed throughout the Northeast in an attempt to encourage people to travel to this part of Vermont.
“It was a great group to speak to and we had a lot of encouraging comments afterwards. It was also great to get Joe out and have him share with the audience the method to his madness. We have had some great wins in the last three years; I was happy he could share those and get good feedback,” Harrington commented after the summit.
The Vermont Tourism Summit draws one of the largest gatherings of tourism professionals in the state including owners, managers and employees of the many businesses connected to this important segment of the economy. The tourism industry attracts nearly 13 million visitors each year to Vermont. These visitors account for close to $2.6 billion in annual spending on lodging, food and drink, goods and services.
To learn more about the Vermont Tourism Summit visit: www.vttourismsummit.org