By Robert Bittner
Every tour-related attraction and accommodation wants to make the most of its resources to expand its marketing reach and raise the overall profile of its region. In Rochester, N.Y., several local nonprofit museums have partnered to share information and ideas and offer sales support when needed. Their approach may be unusual, but the lessons learned along the way can help any destination see results.
To start, reach out. “Pick up the phone and introduce yourself to your local hotels and restaurants,” said Karen Dodson, tourism sales associate for the Strong Museum. “Meet and discuss how you can work together to promote your city. You don’t have to have a lot of money to start doing that.”
Enlist your DMO. Sara Piccini, tourism sales manager for Genesee Country Village and Museum, added, “Talk to your destination marketing organization (DMO) to find out who else in your area might be interested in this. We recently focused on restaurants who might understand the motorcoach business and want to explore the ins and outs of the industry. Our DMO (Visit Rochester) was a big help.”
Be active in ABA. “The ABA Marketplace was an amazing experience,” Piccini reported. “All of us got business from it. For institutions that have a very small budget, spend the money there. You’ll get the biggest return on your investment.”
Offer support. Dodson noted that if one museum can’t attend a given trade show or participate on a sales call, the others step in to represent the absent partner. “It’s like an extension of your business,” she said. “We’ve got each other’s backs.”
Greg Marshall, Visit Rochester’s senior vice president and director of marketing, believes this united effort from three nonprofit museums—the Strong Museum, the Genesee Country Village and Museum, and the George Eastman Museum—is unique in the industry. But it doesn’t have to be. “Anybody can do this,” Dodson said.
Robert Bittner is a Michigan-based freelance writer.