The COVID-19 pandemic reignited a desire to support local businesses, and this doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. After the pandemic, an Intuit study found that 82 percent of consumers were willing to spend more money to support a local business. Tourists are looking to find small, hidden gems while they’re on vacation and destinations can leverage this through Main Street marketing.
Building Resident Sentiment
In conversation with Bree Nidds (Ep. 306), Vice President of Sales & Operations at Discover Lehigh Valley, we talked about how ultimately a destination’s goal is to benefit their local tourism economy. As a result of the pandemic, she learned the importance of focusing on resident sentiment and community building. It isn’t just tourists you want to promote your Main Street businesses to; you always want your local residents to know all that your community has to offer.
In 2022, Cayuga County worked to build awareness of its community by educating people about the life and work of Harriet Tubman, who resided in Auburn, NY for over 50 years. In Episode 295 of Destination on the Left, Karen Kuhl, Executive Director at Cayuga County CVB, spoke about the importance of working with local businesses and community leaders to get their message out not just to visitors, but also to residents of Cayuga County. They learned that it isn’t just about drawing visitors to the area to learn about the life of Harriet Tubman, but it was just as important to get the community and main street businesses on board as well.
Destinations can also leverage partnerships with businesses in their communities to help propel local tourism. We spoke with Kelly Blazosky (Ep. 296), President of Oneida County Tourism & Founder/Partner of Adirondack Barrel Cooperage about how she leveraged community partnerships with the Central New York Cheese Trail. Four counties came together and partnered with local cheese producers to create a trail where people can visit the local farms and try new cheese products.
A partnership like this drives people to your destination, while promoting small local businesses. It encourages locals to get out and explore their own area and encourages tourists to visit more than just the popular hot spots.
Collaborating with the Community
When destinations collaborate with their main street businesses, it provides a myriad of opportunities to draw more visitors than ever to their area. On Destination on the Left episode 269, we spoke with Carrie Simmons (Executive Director of the Stowe Area Association) and Rachel Vandenberg (Chief Hospitality Experience Officer at the Sun and Ski Inn in Stowe, VT) about the benefit of collaborating with a number of different segments in your community to create a network that will help boost tourism. One of the biggest challenges that came out of the pandemic for Stowe was finding ways to continue supporting the local businesses.
A new brand, Best of Route 100, was born out of this challenge. Collaborating with two neighboring communities, Best of Route 100 encourages visitors to explore these regions of Vermont while giving them information on local places to stay, eat, shop, and explore. When local businesses partner with destinations it opens the door to a mutually beneficial relationship that will help draw visitors to the region and help local businesses thrive.
Main Street Marketing
Main Streets have always been a part of a destination’s story. In a post-pandemic world, Main Street marketing has become even more critical. When DMOs work together with local businesses to attract visitors, it allows both the destinations and the businesses to thrive.