Rebranding and Other Unique Tourism Strategies, with Judi Hess

Episode 147:

Judi Hess is the Director of Visit Binghamton, a position she has held since June 2016. Prior to her promotion, Judi was the Manager of Tourism & Special Events for over 20 years. Visit Binghamton is a department of the Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce that is focused on increasing tourism in Broome County. Visit Binghamton is the official tourism promotion agency for Broome County. Judi has been with Visit Binghamton since 1995.

Visit Binghamton focuses on tourism promotion, consumer marketing, cooperative advertising programs and making sales calls on professional planners (sporting groups, conventions, and tour groups). Tourism is an ever-changing industry with new initiatives and opportunities, and Judi welcomes the opportunity to never stop learning and taking on new challenges. Additionally, she serves on several local committees and works closely with our elected officials and hospitality industry partners.

In 2017 the new Visit Binghamton brand was unveiled, giving the CVB a new look, new direction, and new energy. The rebrand is one of Judi’s proudest accomplishments.

Judi enjoys travel and experiencing new things as well as exploring the community she lives in. From great dining and craft beverages to taking in a hockey game, life is good! A lifelong resident of Broome County, she sees her work as a way to let everyone know what a great place this is to visit, live and work.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Judi Hess about her rebrand of Visit Binghamton and the variety of partnerships and creative solutions she’s used to craft a spectacular destination.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How a rebrand revitalized Binghamton’s tourism industry and the creativity that Judi and her team put into that
  • The challenges that have brought out Judi’s creativity and how she and her team stepped up and tackled the adversity
  • Judi’s team’s usage of technology and video to promote Binghamton
  • Unique strategies Judi has used to expand Binghamton’s reach over social media
  • All of the collaborations that have helped Binghamton blossom as a tourist destination
  • Creating strong partnerships and steps you can take to help parties relate to each other
  • Engaging the local community to improve satisfaction for both visitors and people who live at your destinations

A Creative Rebrand

Binghamton is a vibrant and bustling part of New York that’s growing in popularity with each day. We can point to many factors for its success, and one of them is the fresh new take on its tourism department, Visit Binghamton. The department has its director, Judi Hess, to thank for its recent 2017 rebrand. Judi is very proud of this accomplishment, and I was happy to have her share it with me.

Judi and her team saw the incredible things happening in their community and knew it was time for a change. With live music almost every night and art galleries opening up where there used to be cigar factories, Visit Binghamton brought restaurants, hotels, government officials, and university representatives to help answer one question: Who are we? This collaboration helped them realize the importance of the individual contributions of every person, whether local or visiting from across the country. Visit Binghamton came out with a fresh new tagline: “Be a Part of Our Story”.

Bold colors and prints for the new brand perfectly compliment exciting new developments in Binghamton’s tourist industry. Imagine seeing Animal Adventure Park, an interactive animal exhibit with giraffes, zebras, monkeys, and more. The growing beer industry is promoted by inner tube rides down the Beer Tree River, while the hospitality section has had a drone fly through. It’s no wonder people from across the world tune in to Binghamton’s social media!

Creating Strong Partnerships

Judi’s team couldn’t have done it without the collaborations and partnerships they built along the way. One of the most important, the LUMA Projection Arts Festival, helped Binghamton break into event marketing in an awesome and special way. Connecting LUMA to I Love NY and other NY marketing brands grew the event into a huge and successful show. Using hospitality, restaurants, and travel writing partners has helped this event and partnership blossom in an incredible way.

Transparency is one of the key features of partnerships with Judi’s team. By leveraging existing partnerships and introducing those people to new potential collaborators, channels of communication are opened and people begin to speak the same language. Judi’s team acts as a middle man to create strong bonds between organizations and weave a network of cooperation that has helped bring Binghamton to the forefront of New York tourism.

On the individual level, Judi focuses heavily on making sure that Binghamton locals are happy and that they see their town as thriving and improving. Judi creates a positive atmosphere that leads the locals to tell their friends across the country how much they love living there. That positivity eventually spreads to Binghamton tourists and secures a future for Binghamton as a popular New York destination.


Episode Transcript

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