Telling Loudoun County’s Story, with Beth Erickson

Episode 107

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Beth Erickson has served as the President and CEO of Visit Loudoun since 2014. Visit Loudoun is in Loudoun County, Virginia and in 2016 alone, they generated almost $1.69 billion in travel spending and supported more than 17,000 jobs in the travel industry and adjacent businesses.

Prior to her current position with Visit Loudoun, Beth served as the Vice President of the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a non-profit organization that works to raise awareness and support for the 180-mile stretch of land lying between Gettysburg, PA and Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia plantation home, Monticello. In 2008, the partnership was recognized by Congress as a National Heritage Area. Beth chairs the government affairs committee for the Virginia Restaurant Lodging Tourism and Hospitality Association. She also serves with numerous organizations including the Loudoun County Comprehensive Plan Stakeholder Committee, Loudoun County Economic Development Commission, Loudoun County Economic Development Authority, and many more committees and boards of directors. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Beth about the wildly successful work her organization has been doing to turn Loudoun County, Virginia into a popular and respected travel destination and well-connected cultural center. Listen to our conversation and discover how education, collaboration, and storytelling have served as powerful tools for building up the local travel and tourism industry and have had wide-reaching effects for the entire region.

What You Will Learn:

  • How Beth’s background in manufacturing, marketing, and advertising first exposed her to the world of destination marketing
  • How Loudoun County’s existing reputation as the wine country of the nation’s capital was a rich foundation to build upon
  • How Visit Loudoun works with the Virginia state tourism office to coordinate and bolster their efforts
  • Why Beth’s biggest challenge has been making tourism more visible, and how she has worked with elected officials to “tell Loudoun County’s story”
  • What projects she’s currently working on, including the upcoming opening of a world-class athletics center and training facility
  • Why collaboration and cooperation between “competing” parts of the tourism industry have been impactful on her own work

Why Does Destination Marketing Matter?

Aside from the tremendous economic impact the travel and tourism industry has on an area, destination marketing is a wonderful way to tell the story of a location. Through coordinated education efforts and cooperation with local and state organizations and elected officials, the ripple effect from marketing efforts can boost an entire region.

In Loudoun County’s case, the efforts Beth and her organization are making have been major contributing factors in opening up new avenues for growth. It has helped expand local transit and athletic opportunities, and certainly been an influence on Amazon’s decision to locate their HQ2 a mere 50 miles from Loudoun.

Cooperation Equals Opportunity

As Beth illustrates beautifully in our conversation, cooperation with others has been a powerful tool to help tell Loudoun County’s story. By working with the state tourism office, elected officials and other organizations, Beth’s coordinated efforts have paid dividends for the local travel and tourism industry helping to expand the local economy with new and exciting opportunities for both visitors and residents.

Our industry is a remarkable engine for regional growth and cultural development. There are countless opportunities for thinking outside the box while growing your reputation as a worthwhile travel destination. That philosophy of innovation and teamwork is precisely why it was such a pleasure to chat with Beth and hear her insights.


Speaker 1: 00:00 Welcome, you’ve arrived at destination on the left with Nicole Mahoney, learn from the experience of travel and tourism experts who use collaboration and creativity to attract more visitors, strengthen their marketing programs, and reimagine how their industry does business. Listeners, this is Nicole Mahoney, host of

Nicole Mahoney: 00:20 donation on the left. I am passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry. That is why I’m so excited to introduce today’s guest, Beth Erickson. Since 2014 Beth Ericsson has been the president and CEO of visit Loudoun. Loudoun counties officially designated Tourism Development and Destination Marketing Organization. Louden county is the third highest generator of visitor spending in the Commonwealth, and in 2016, generated almost one point six, $9 billion in travel spending supported 17,225 jobs, providing 663 point $4 million in wages. Prior to joining visit Louden, Beth was vice president of the journey through Hallowed Ground Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the 180 mile swath of land between Gettysburg, PA and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The journey through hallowed ground partnership was recognized by Congress as a national heritage area in 2008 as the director of thej t h, g national heritage area.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:32 She was responsible for all aspects of the management of the heritage area through the US Department of Interior and developing strategic public and private partnerships. Beth chairs, the government affairs committee for the Virginia Restaurant Lodging, tourism, and Hospitality Association, serves on the Loudon county comprehensive plan, stakeholder committee, Louden County Economic Development Commission, Louden County Economic Development Authority, and the Loudon County Nighttime Academy ad hoc committee. She also serves on the Loudon County Chamber Board of Directors and Policy Committee, Fairfax Louden chapter of the Virginia Restaurant, lodging and Travel Association board of Directors and the Middleburg Film Festival Board of directors. She is the immediate past president of the northern Virginia visitors consortium. Beth holds the internationally recognized Certified Destination Management Executive Certification, a program of destinations international, and she received the George Washington University Tourism Innovation Award for innovations and destination development and management. In 2017 was named one of the top 20 female executives in Loudon County, was honored by the corporation for national and community service, the Virginia Department of Education and the Advisory Council on historic preservation for outstanding leadership for innovation in educational programs and is a featured speaker at national association meetings and symposiums. Beth and her husband have raised three children in Waterford, Virginia. And Beth, I am so happy for you to be joining us today. Thank you so much.

Beth Erickson: 03:03 Oh, it is my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. I will say that it’s very funny listening to that bio and the amount of times that you said a lot of accounting. So that’s a great introduction in and of itself.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:14 Absolutely. I always promoting louden county, right. And, uh, it, you know, and it’s, uh, it’s an impressive bio, but I know that the bio can only really say so much, uh, you know, this list of accomplishments, which is so impressive, but if you could tell us a little bit about your story and your journey, I think it adds so much more context to our conversation.

Beth Erickson: 03:36 Thank you for that. You know, it’s interesting. I’ve often said that I think there are a lot of different paths to get to your final destination and I actually. My background was in manufacturing, excuse me for many, many years and in marketing and advertising and I’m in 1992. I branched off on my own to have a successful consulting business and marketing and that led me through many different relationships. That led me through many different exposure to different industries and let me to the journey of your house, which you mentioned in my bio, which was a really remarkable experience, but it was through that experience that I was exposed to the world of this mission marketing and in the context of the VP at the head of the national heritage area. I worked with 15 dmo partners and was so impressed by their dedication to their counties and their dedication to really raising the level of exposure for what is unique and each of these 15 counties and the states that I was very intrigued by the industry and I joined the visit loud board directors and was that shared board predecessor, Patrick Taylor, who is actually now was getting ready to transition to his next position and it was at that moment at 50 years old, I’m really excited to enter the world of destination marketing and was thrilled to get the position and have not looked back sense, but it’s always fun to see the connectivity throughout the year where the so much you and I could not be more delighted.

Beth Erickson: 05:26 I think this is an incredible industry is vibrant. It is exciting. It is necessary and the fact that I have allows me to really welcome the world to where I call home and I couldn’t ask for a better opportunity.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:46 That’s really awesome. Um, you know, as you were describing that you reminded me I had forgotten we had that other connection with Patrick Keiller, uh, who is now the CEO of visit Buffalo, which is right down the road from, from where my office is. Um, and, and in our preinterview chat, you and I were talking a little bit about louden county and how our paths have not crossed, but how, you know, I sort of had heard about you through mutual industry, friends and, and we’re up here in finger lakes, wine country and I know you have a very vibrant wine country down there. So I’m gonna look forward to hearing about your experience in the Dmo world and specifically, you know, some of that product development work that I know you’ve been doing for several years now. So thank you for, for taking us down that path. And the other thing I just wanted to comment on is I’m always amazed when I ask our guests to tell us their own story, how many kind of find themselves in this world of tourism, but didn’t really set out to be in tourism and are kind of drawn to it. And I love how you said you worked with those 15 dmo partners and really got kind of that inside look and found your passion there. So

Beth Erickson: 07:02 that’s really awesome. It’s been really wonderful in communicating this industry to my children and my youngest has just entered university and so I had the opportunity to take her to the destinations international conference this past year with a specific intent to expose her to the industry because I think is really phenomenal leadership happening in the DMO world in particular for women in the industry. And it’s an exciting time and I wanted to open her eyes to the opportunities that she’d be looking at a career path.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:40 That’s awesome. What a great opportunity for your daughter. I think that’s terrific. So, Beth, I want to dive into these questions and on this show, we like to focus in two areas, first on creativity and then on collaboration. Uh, although I do find that we end up talking about both. It’s hard to talk about creativity without talking about collaboration sometimes, but kind of starting here with the first question and that is how competitive the tourism and hospitality industry is. Um, you know, you’re not only competing with other destination choices but also competing for people’s very valuable time. And I’m wondering what you have done to help louden county stand out from the crowd.

Beth Erickson: 08:27 What I think that the best way to start with that discussion is to say that I am very, very fortunate that I’ve had an incredible team that every single day up and looks at marketing for leisure visitors, for travelers. Um, everything from those who are looking to in various sports journalists tour and travel is, it is a growing part of industry. So I’ve got a really phenomenal house behind me, if you will. That makes my job so much easier. But I think that in looking at the evolution over the last five years, where I’ve seen is really building on the strong brands of starting with dcs wine country and that was a brand that was put in place certainly before I became engaged. And what’s really important about that is it allows people to have a visual because loudness is not exactly a name that rolls off the tongue very easily or one that has great recognition.

Beth Erickson: 09:31 It’s becoming more and more recognized. So we’ll talk about that as we go through the course of the conversation. But DC’s country really helped us create a visual of what wine country, right outside of the nation’s capital, and we can deliver on that promise with visitors are here. You’ve got the beautiful rolling call it landscape. You have a strong agricultural heartbeat of Loudoun county, but what is really exciting about loud is over the past five years, more than that, 70 percent of the world’s internet traffic comes through your mouth and counting. And that came in the very beginning of AOL. And so when you have that dichotomy of this incredible role of Loudoun county and it’s very, very heavily, um, with this shuttle technology court orders, you have a data center, it really begins to start painting that picture where it is DC’s lesson after that. It’s also very exciting and vibrant.

Beth Erickson: 10:31 We’ve also seen great expansion throughout all of our craft beverage development, including practice beers. So we launch a very successfully a few years ago, the rail trail local, the local ale trail, and both of those have helped us secure the wine marketing and tourism conference, helped us secure the national beer bloggers conference, which is now called theory conflicts. And both of those initiatives really helped us gain support from the state but also support the state’s initiatives of what they’re looking to do with a physician, Virginia on the world stage. So it’s really going very, very well in terms of that strategic thought process to put us where we all are. Because I do think the county has a very unique proposition to offer. And as we look at the growth of that craft beer industry, I will tell you that we have 50 wineries and vineyards, we have the rotary craft beverage industry over very, how many craft breweries to distilleries, cideries, leaderly, and so were a lot of destinations have that craft beverage component. Mountain is truly in the fact that we’ve got a great density much. But there’s also the opportunities to have both an urban experience for our craft beverage, for our craft beer industry as well as a font. So you really have to spectrum in Loudon County, which is the home of Dulles International Airport, and a very short drive into Washington DC. So I think we’ve been positioned in a very creative way that allows us to deliver on that promise.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:21 That’s awesome. You just gave us so much information for the listeners to kind of break down. And I want to start with this, um, the dcs wine country. I went to back up to that just for a minute because what I like about that, it’s how you said it helps create a visual. So to me like really a framework so that the visitor knows kind of what to expect and then that you can actually deliver on that promise. And I think that those two things together are just so important to make sure that, you know, first of all, you can create something that a visitor can understand and then secondly that you actually can deliver on it with, with that density of product that you just described. And I, and I’m, I’m curious about something else that you said when you talked about aligning with your state tourism office because I do think that that is so important and I’d like to have you expand on that just a little bit and in what ways you’re able to, you know, align with what they’re trying to accomplish and then take advantage of that or help leverage what they’re doing, you know, for your destination.

Beth Erickson: 13:30 Certainly from my perspective, we have had not only a phenomenal relationship with Virginia Tourism Corporation who was our marketing office of, but we’ve also had the great fortune of very strong leadership, but the most recent run of governors in Virginia that truly understand the importance of the visitor economy and they also understand that tourism and the visitor economy really helps you create that quality of light that draws in investment and draws in economic development. So our most recent cover, governor Terry Mcauliffe, has very strong interest in that agricultural component of that craft beer product. Really help with legislation all the way through to the state and local level. That really helped to expand that for Virginia. This kind of put us on that, on that stage from a national perspective and our and our curt see if you need that. And we just could not be more really more fortunate in the expansion and the understanding of our elected officials at the highest level of the importance of tourism or the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Beth Erickson: 14:47 And they help us tell that story. So when we start at how loud the Kelly’s to align that and how allowed to tell that story, the road is paved, we just need to make sure that we are straight on having to support that into lecture, that everyone was allowed. He understands the flatness of industry as well. So Virginia Tourism Corporation has been very helpful with us. Everything from our international outreach, it has helped us with marketing and other grants that we have. We have applied for and received, but also a lot of our partners have also applied for and received. We also a visit Laos and has marketing leveraged program where our local partners can use that to leverage against state conduct, which again, continues to help us on product development.

Nicole Mahoney: 15:40 Yeah, I think that’s terrific. And, and it is so important that at the highest level those elected officials really do understand and support tourism, um, for you to really have a successful program. And I really appreciate you kind of, you know, taking us down that path and in thinking about, uh, thinking about how to work with your state tourism office and how important that is. Um, I think that’s really awesome. So Beth, I just want to switch gears a little bit. I, one of the things that I really like to explore with our guests is a challenge or some sort of adversity that may have happened. Um, and then kind of the creativity that comes from it. I find that we learned so much, um, when faced with a challenge and, and when we’re, when we’re problem solving and I’m wondering if there is a time that uh, you or your organization has faced a challenge and then maybe if you could share some of the creativity that came from that

Beth Erickson: 16:42 is certainly not unique to La County. It is in making tours of visitable. I often joke that if I have a one line job description on my business card, that would be it making visible and it always going to be a challenge for us is to make sure that we have that seat at the table to tell our value proposition. And I’m from the very start when I started with visit Loudoun, even as a board member, that was a challenge. Always making sure that through really strong storytelling that you can make towards the visible. So one of the things that we’ve done over the last several years is to have a very distinct goal in our strategic plan, but also with, with our board, with our team to be very data driven because that allows us to really articulate a story well and you have data that backs it up.

Beth Erickson: 17:41 Um, you mentioned the very start that, that the county is the third highest revenue generator for the junior. Using that has been really important to our elected officials, to our residents. One of the other ways that I use data to help you tell that story is that tourism related jobs in loudon county are equal to or greater than Loudoun county public schools to find. And when you look at the revenue that’s generated like tourism that goes into the general fund, that’s your transient occupancy tax top tax. One of the illustrations that I like to use is that funding. If the county works, you designated as such, would pay per 74 first year teachers. Again, anytime that you can make towards physical, like saying is not only not facilities that are here, it’s about benefits to our community. I think that’s a really important part. The other thing that I’ve done a lot, certainly not.

Beth Erickson: 18:49 Um, and I think I’ve learned about this through other destinations, which I think is one of the things that is most appealing about industries that we share best practices of best practice that I have used very effectively over the last several years is engaging our elected officials and our key business partners in Loudoun county to help us walk of boots that come into alone. They are always there to shake hands of either I’ve got a Bam tour coming in for a big piece of business, food realization coming in for a piece of business or I’ve got a motor coach that’s come through. I will reach out to my elected officials. I’ll reach out to my colleagues at the Chamber and Economic Development and they accommodate people that shook their hands except on the prosthetics. And your business is important to us. Thank you for being here. So every single time that they do it, they become more and more invested. They’ve also helped us bring inland significant pieces of business in route and they take great pride in that. So while it’s not necessarily something that is creative outside of the box thinking it is something that has been extraordinarily effective and something that I would encourage any destination to do, the more that you have elected officials and community leaders telling the importance of your industry you live.

Nicole Mahoney: 20:10 Yeah, I think that’s great. And uh, I love that I’m very simple making tourism visible definitely as a challenge for many folks that I talk to. And I think one of the key takeaways from what you just shared is that, um, you know, it’s in your strategic plan to help make tourism more visible and you have a very defined way of how you’re going to do that. And that’s by being very data driven, um, in those examples that you shared I think are think are great ones. And I love that idea of getting elected officials and key business stakeholders to welcome groups, fam, fam tours, etc. It’s a win on so many levels because it makes those visitors who are coming to your community feel special because they have, you know, these important people that are greeting them, but then on the same on the same ended also helps you get them more involved and more engaged in the whole industry. I think that’s just really, really brilliant. Love it.

Beth Erickson: 21:12 That is not just stop at the county level. I’ve also reached out to our state representatives also reading into anything right outside of dc. we would be remiss if we didn’t reach out to our, our us delegation and so we have had members of congress and have large groups that have come in. I’ve had representatives from our state senate, us senate offices, and the more that you provide to our elected officials to be able to tell the foot part of their jurisdiction, they’re very thankful for that and it allows them to tell the stories of small business owners that they’re needing. So let’s say they’re coming up for loyalty. They’re meeting those entrepreneurs and they’re saying, your business is important. Let me understand what you’re doing while you’re doing it. And that builds for the elected officials really more for ground on which to not only legislation but to be further engage with your constituency.

Beth Erickson: 22:21 And that’s been critically important and I think part of that thought process really didn’t come back from prior asterias is working with the photographs and allowing us to really understand that the elected officials in activity, they want to be able to really work with those small business owner and skin, um, be able to connect with their, with their jurisdictions constituency in a really important and meaningful way. And I will tell you need to do it because it’s, it is a great story for them to tell that story. It’s important. They get it, they articulate it and it’s a very good thing.

Nicole Mahoney: 23:06 That’s awesome. So I’m going to switch gears again and give you an opportunity to talk about projects or anything that you’re working on right now in loudon county. Um, you know, looking into the future that you’re extremely excited about and would like to share with our listeners.

Beth Erickson: 23:23 Oh, I’m very excited about. And one of which is a, we have this year coming up, opening of a little phenomenal say facility indoor facility called ion. We have the great luxury of having a olympia that lives here. It allows who saw the vision of being a world class, a little bit style training facility for all ice sports and that’s opening this year. So that’s an idea of endless opportunity to go after a part of our sports towards a market that we don’t have a stand on what is here currently with our hockey programs, but really look at a whole different level of competition. So that’s very exciting. Metro, which is Washington dc. It’s an extra system, silver line, which is the most recent extension that are coming into loudoun county and by 2020 we will have three metro stops really connecting us to dulles airport by metro transit but straight into Washington dc.

Beth Erickson: 24:32 So that’s going to afford us the tremendous opportunity and looking at what that does from a destination development. So we actually have the continued growth of the international market through Washington, dulles international airport, but also through partnerships that we have with economic development and land kind of supervisors with several key sister city relationships in europe in asia have really opened up, um, a fantastic opportunity to leverage what’s happening within the international. Um, and then lastly, I will tell you not a surprise because it’s something that’s been in the news everywhere we have. I’m part of hq tooth that is amazon’s second headquarters that is coming within 50 miles of loudoun county. So preparing for how are you going to act, getting back to our first part, really deliver on the outstanding attributes of mine, harry, for a growing tech segment. We are uniquely positioned to that. You’ll continue to build towards that opportunity to really leverage it for the long journey. I think it’s a win for the commonwealth of Virginia. It’s a liberal in alexandria is a with a lack of county and I’m really excited about it.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:55 Yeah, that is exciting. All of those things are very exciting. But, um, that the hq two, I think, um, you know, that was a very, a highly coveted, um, race, if you will, they to get that and I think it does, it opens up so much more opportunity for you as you think about, um, you know, what your destination is going to look like even right once all of those new employees perhaps that might be moving into the area and then all the visitation that might happen as a result of that and the new kind of focus on your area as well. Um, I think that’s just huge. Congratulations. That’s really awesome.

Beth Erickson: 26:36 As much as I will say, that loud has changed a lot in the past five years. I think it’s going to change even more the next five years. I think we’re in a position to bring a new hotel product and mistake part. There is a lot that’s happening.

Nicole Mahoney: 26:55 That is exciting. What a great time for you to get into the dmo world. That’s awesome. Well that’s terrific. Well, all of those projects that you just described actually are perfect segue into this next section, which we like to explore on collaboration because I’m sure none of those actually would work without some sort of collaboration. Um, but one of the things that I really like to explore when I think about collaboration in the tourism industry is this whole idea of coopertition where perceived competitors really come together to collaborate and cooperate to build something much bigger than, than what they could do on their own. Um, and, and you kind of alluded to it earlier when you talked about best practices and all the sharing that happens in this industry and I really do see that, you know, these perceived competitors, even though they could be competing for hotel rooms or they could be competing for that visitors dollar, um, in the tourism industry, they kind of put all that aside and have that sort of bigger picture in mind. And so I’m wondering if you can describe a time when a collaboration between competitors has worked for you.

Beth Erickson: 28:10 Collaboration is such an important word on a couple of levels. one of which I will tell you that I believe that the destination marketing is leading the effort in demonstrating collaboration and I know that it’s something that is going to set off to the visitors. Don’t recognize county boundary, say recognize experiences, really are looking for something within a region. And there has been, I think it’s been over 10 years, so the Virginia history, which is now we’ve rebranded ourselves to the northern Virginia tourism partnership is louden county conjunction, prince william arlington, alexandria, fairfax. so the working together collaboratively, as I mentioned, well over a decade and it’s been very, very successful. I think our model is a really strong model, um, for well thought out. We have a separate five, zero, one c, three. The five destinations pay into a. We agree on marketing plan, sales plan, budget allocation is, and where we’ve seen the greatest success and really great way to illustrate is also allows us to partner with, again towards publication, destination b, c, and capital of the usa so that when international visitors coming in, they’re staying within our region and we worked very closely and collaboratively in particular for ipw came to Washington dc.

Beth Erickson: 29:46 And by working together we were able to put in van trips, host fam trips. We were able to leverage the fact that this unique opportunity of having four operators from around the world in our backyard and destination dc was a terrific partner on that. Um, and we saw great outcomes from that. So our children travel, um, colleagues will do trade missions, trade missions together as well. Our pr colleagues, our marketing team work very well together to market northern Virginia as a regional destination and the ceos are there to make sure that the efforts of our teams that are really doing phenomenal work and we’ve seen great success. Um, and before today.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:37 That’s a fabulous example and I find it really interesting that you’ve formed this five o one c three. I’ve seen these collaborations work before, but I know when you have that entity around it, it makes it so much easier, doesn’t it, to, to actually execute on the programs rather than having just a, uh, perhaps one dmo take a lead and you’ve got this kind of committee structure rather than an actual organizational structure behind you.

Beth Erickson: 31:04 I think it’s important. It also helps us with telling the story again, of the impact of colorism within our region and more than 40 percent of all revenue generation for tourism. The commonwealth of Virginia comes out of that northern Virginia consortium. So when we go down and we have issues that are facing us as an industry and we walk into the legislator’s offices, that’s when the first things that we meet with because it gets their attention and is. It is truly the economic engine of tourism in the commonwealth of Virginia. But the other key component to that is one of you talked a little bit about the structure, but the other part is trust. We have professionaL development, um, one of my colleagues says it very, very well when we talk about this and the statement is, you know, loud may not get those room nights are that group tool on this time that they made the next time.

Beth Erickson: 32:01 So all of us being collaboraTively looking at these opportunities together allows us to keep each other on that score. We’re going to look at each other going, wait, wait, wait a minute. You know, I know that we have the last time, arlington, you take a look at getting them this time and it allows us to tell that story, but also from a professional development standpoint, it’s been great for our teams to work together and it’s taken on a life of its own. And I will tell you that my other colleagues in my other senior colleagues would say that this is a very good thing now for our individual. The title.

Nicole Mahoney: 32:38 Yeah. Um, I, I

Beth Erickson: 32:40 love that side effect and that whole idea of professional development because, um, I imagine that this is really providing an opportunity for your teams to have their own peer to peer network. Right? So you go to destinations international where you have your peer to peer network and I’m in this kind of, is this natural built in peer to peer network within your region? I think that’s really awesome. That’s a great side effect of, of, of this collaboration. I think that’s terrific. Yeah. Um, so, uh, before we, uh, close out, beth, I want to ask you this question. I’ve been hearing a lot lately about this whole idea of destination marketers are becoming community managers and it’s something that I’ve been interested in exploring and I don’t really think it’s necessarily a new concept in terms of, uh, perhaps what people might think when they think of a community manager, but I just believe that it’s bubbling up and that there’s more focus on the actual role of tourism within the community and this whole idea that destination marketers aren’t just about bringing in the visitors, but there’s this piece of destination marketing where you’re actually working with the locals, you know, improving the quality of life and um, you know, engaging with the locals.

Beth Erickson: 34:02 And then I’m wondering if you are seeing examples of this evolution in your own work on two different levels. One of whIch is, um, allowed that has a really fantastic relationship with economic development and it has, um, over the last several years to wherever they are looking at going after large, significant pieces of business for business investment in value. They bring us to the table because we told the story of quality of life. We can articulate what employees would be enjoying the day are coming into a new investment or third business. Um, which really nobody else can tell he tell a story. But it also, in terms of looking at some of those existing businesses that are here. A great example as we can a couple of years ago, this also came out of our strategic plan. They’ve launched a restaurant producer market fights, I’m sorry, producers marketplace where we brought in the other cultural producers, whether it’s wine here, goat cheese and lettuce, whatever it might be.

Beth Erickson: 35:11 When we introduce them to hospitality community, our restaurants, our hotels to start forging partnerships to have our are very strong and powerful hospitality industry buying source as locally as possible, which helps to make sure that the smaller producers are important under cultural producers. We may viable and vibrant in loudoun county because that’s an important part of what makes lockton different destination. So that’s yet, but one example of the many ways that we work to create partnerships and I think that when you looked at that term, community managers to really is in leveraging partnerships and collaboration where that magic happens and that’s where that secret sauce of what I think that destination marketers do. and

Nicole Mahoney: 36:10 I think that’s such a great perspective. I actually wrote that down when you said it earlier, that destination marketers are really leading the effort in. I loved this demonstrating the importance of collaboration or how you do collaboration really well. Um, and this example about the producers marketplace, um, it’s so important because, you know, we’re here in finger lakes, wine country and we probably have some of the same challenges that you do in dc wine country in that visitors will come into our region and depending on which restaurant they go to, they may not finD any finger lakes wines or New York state wines on the wine menu or they might only find one. Um, and so making those Connections is so important because not only does it help those businesses thrive and do better, but it also gives your visitor, makes your, improves your visitor experience,

Beth Erickson: 37:02 becomes an authentic experience or they’re in the finger lakes. They are having an authentic experience and that can be seen on everything from the Wine that you’re drinking, the food that they’re eating to the art they may be enjoying in, in the restaurant. So it’s really a, it’s an ecosystem and I think it’s very important and it’s one that visitors may not recognize that truly, truly,

Nicole Mahoney: 37:30 absolutely. You know, um, I was involved two or three years ago now in a project on a volunteer basis that was doing just that, trying to connect the wineries with the restaurants and we had created a business case actually for the restaurants that showed and proved that they will actually make more money by selling the local wines over, you know, the wines that the distributor might just have in the catalog. I’m, if they put the time and effort into it. And so, um, I, I think that that business case is just so important and um, and there definitely is, wanted to have there. So I think that’s really awesome. Yeah. So, beth, I knew this conversation. We’d be so full of so many great ideas and so much information. Is there anything else that you would like to share with our listeners that maybe I hadn’t asked you or final parting words?

Beth Erickson: 38:25 Oh, that’s a toughie. I feel like we’ve covered a lot and I’m just so thankful for you to have these discussions for industry to, to learn from one another. Um, I’m very, very honored to be here, but I also feel very honored to be a part of such a vital and important industry and, um, if it’s any indication or my facebook page from all of my friends and relatives who say to me on a daily basis and you’ve got the best job in the world, Um, I would agree and I think that iS, if we’re not having fun, if we’re not benefiting our communities, if we’re not telling a great story, we’re doing something wrong because we had everything.

Nicole Mahoney: 39:11 Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I love this industry and I love these conversations and I’m thankful for you taking some time out of your schedule to talk with us today and we’ll look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Beth Erickson: 39:25 It’s my pleasure. I look forward to meeting you in person. You too. Thanks. Bye. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 39:30 It’s time to hit the road again. visit destination on the During your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.

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