Making the Best of a Beautiful Situation On a Budget, with Caroline Boland and Gary Curran

Episode 104

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Caroline Boland and Gary Curran together run the Dingle Peninsula Tourism Alliance, located on the southern coast of Ireland. Gary serves as chairperson of the alliance, and Caroline is a marketing consultant for DPTA.

Gary grew up on the peninsula and now runs Greenmount House, a 4-star rated bed and breakfast in Dingle. Caroline visited some years ago and knew this beautiful place was where she wanted to live. Together, Gary and Caroline have been traveling in Massachusetts and New York on behalf of the DPTA. Coincidentally, both Gary and Caroline graduated from the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Galway, Ireland.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I have a conversation that will make you want to pack your bags immediately and head for the southern coast of Ireland. I talk with Caroline and Gary about the challenges of marketing on a limited budget and the exciting opportunities for collaboration that come out of that kind of necessity.


What You Will Learn:

  • Why the Dingle peninsula is renowned as one of the most beautiful places on earth
  • Strategies for extending your season
  • How to market your region on a small budget
  • The difference between marketing yourself as a destination or as an attraction
  • Benefits of getting your message out directly to the consumer
  • How to develop meaningful sister city relationships

Beautiful Landscape is Just the Beginning

Whatever brings people to your destination is often just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. How do you help visitors explore all your destination has to offer? In Ireland’s Dingle peninsula, it starts with the incredible natural beauty. From there, the people, the food, the hectic festival schedule (they have a LOT of festivals) can all be a big draw. We talk about how there is a different target market for different seasons, and how to connect with people who will enjoy the winter or shoulder season, and those who want to be there in the summer.

Sister Cities and Genuine Relationships

As Caroline points out, “You don’t have to have money to make a new friend. You just have to be genuine and, and just welcoming and just want to spend time, share a bit, and build a relationship.” That’s how they approached their relationship with sister city, West Springfield in Massachusetts. How can you build a mutually beneficial relationship, so it’s not just a plaque on the side of the road, and now you’re a sister city? There is some great conversation around making that happen.


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. Hello listeners. This is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left,

Nicole Mahoney: 00:22 passionate about travel and tourism and love learning from the experiences of professionals in the industry and today we have two guests joining us, Caroline Boland, and Gary Karen from the Dingle Peninsula Tourism Alliance in Ireland. Gary was born and reared in dingle and grew up in the family run award winning greenmount house, which he now owns and manages after spending years managing other hotels in Ireland. He has a graduate, have Shannon College of hotel management. Gary has chairperson of dingle dingle peninsula tourism alliance, which is a voluntary position and is regarded as an important community person in sport and education as well. Carolyn grew up in a small family run hotel, the Candlelight Inn in Dunmore, east county. Waterford like Gary. Carolyn is a graduate of the Shannon College of hotel management in Ireland. Carolyn came to the dingle peninsula 21 years ago as the sales and marketing manager of the dingle skellig hotel, having fallen in love with the magnificent landscape here, and yes, 21 years later, she’s still loves the landscape. Having spent five years as voluntary chairperson of dingle dingle peninsula tourism back in 2000. Carolyn is now delighted to be working with the dingle peninsula tourism alliance as their tourism development and marketing and promotions consultant. So welcome to the show, Gary and Carolyn.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:49 I’m so excited to have you. And, um, I wanted to let our listeners know that actually, um, uh, we met, uh, you or you have come to find out about our show because you were recently in the finger lakes vacation region, which is where we’re located, attending the travel bloggers exchange. So I’m very excited to hear your perspective having having your kind of experience here in the finger lakes and hearing about what you have going on in the dingle peninsula because I think that there’s a lot of synergies and a lot of similarities that we’re going to find through this conversation. You know, that our listeners will, will, will, uh, will enjoy. So I’m, I’m excited to dive in. Please go for it. Awesome. So before we get started with the questions, I always like to have our guests talk about their background in their own words. I find it adds so much more context to our camp conversations. So I’m wondering, Gary, can we start with you? Can you talk a little bit about how you got to where you are today and um, you know, a little bit more about your journey

Caroline Boland: 02:56 going back to the 1700. We’re all from the dingle peninsula, uh, both sides of my family. So I suppose I’ve been born, born and reared in the area and uh, I suppose between different in a small town, most most of your family or small businesses. My parents had I guest, so in our family and restaurants and I suppose you spend your, your early life, which are little jobs for working with the different family members have been I suppose after that that took me on to hotel, hotel management and uh, it’s spent nearly 12 years, uh, working in the, in Europe, California and Ireland, managing hotels and I suppose eventually ended up coming back to dingle and says whether after all that travel, this is the best place. So and I suppose when you come know sometimes I think you have to go away to appreciate what you have.

Caroline Boland: 03:56 I suppose that’s what the travel but also getting out to travel. I suppose it, it broadens your horizons and see what other places are doing. You learn new skills, you think that you’d be able to take back with you and I suppose locally I was, I’m married now myself with some young kids and I suppose to see what can my kids have. The opportunities that I had growing up here, can they have the same? And I suppose it’s a different Ireland, a hour population on the west coast is declining. Silver started, I suppose to say, what can we add to the peninsula that the generation coming behind us can have to so that they can ensure living here and they’ll have a, a nice prosperous future ahead of them so that they can, I suppose, take their journey down the business roles and that there’ll be opportunities for them in the years to come. So that’s a short synopsis of it all

Nicole Mahoney: 04:56 forward thinking, you know, thinking about what the future generations experiences are going to be like a in your community where your family has been since the 17 hundreds. So I think that’s really amazing. It actually made me think of an earlier episode and I’m going to have to send this to you, to the two of you. Um, when I talked with a gentleman named Rick Johnson and he used to be the tourism bureau or lead the tourism bureau in Vancouver, Canada. And he and I had this episode where we talked about this idea of cathedral thinking and the whole idea of building something today that you might not see, you know, fully completed in your lifetime but you, but for future generations. And I think that that’s so important when we’re talking about the work that we do in travel and tourism. So I love that that came out right here and in the beginning of our conversation. Um, so Carolyn, I’m wondering if you can tell us a little bit about your journey as well. And, and I understand you came to the dingle 21 years ago, so I’ll be interested to hear how you have you arrived.

Gary Curran: 06:04 Um, I grew up in a small family run business in the southeast of the country and um, unfortunately, you know, the business is no longer there, but from a trip that I took with my family back in the late eighties at two, the West Coast, uh, we, um, my, my father and myself, we took off from the conference one day and it took off out onto the dingle peninsula and the depths of winter up and over the counter, pass it into the little town of Danville and then took a wonderful, uh, drive around slay hedge. And that was me. That was it. I was sold forever. So fortunately a number of years later, I had the opportunity to come to the peninsula as a sales and marketing manager for the dingles skellig hotel. And um, in that time when I used to go out on the road to promote the dingle peninsula, and sorry, at that time, Nicole at this would be back in 1997.

Gary Curran: 07:09 The dingle peninsula used open at Easter and closed in November and the first of November was like the curtain closed and that was it. But when I used to go out to domestic shows here in Ireland or to the US, UK and Germany particularly, I’m a wash came with me all the time. It’s the dingle peninsula because whilst we had a beautiful hotel, we had a seven star destination and um, it was my absolute, I suppose for falling in love with the landscape, which is actually truly magical, but also with the people of the place and this sense of, you know, being in a place of part that, um, that really has kept me here over all those years. And um, we, you know, have, I suppose I’ve journeyed now for the last 21 years with my friends and I suppose colleagues and peers here and um, it has been a privileged to be able to do that.

Nicole Mahoney: 08:11 That’s, that’s incredible. And I want to, for our listeners sake, I’d, I’d like to have you tell us a little bit more about, um, you know, the dingle peninsula and what’s so special about it. Um, and before I ask you to do that, I’m just going to read what you had sent, uh, sent me when we were preparing for this interview, talking about the dingle peninsula. One cited is the most beautiful place on earth by the National Geographic, voted among the top 100 destinations in the world by tripadvisor. CNN recently recommended it as a very favorable winter destination and it’s listed as one of the top 10 places to be on New Year’s Eve. Also recently awarded foody town of Ireland for dingle. All of these accolades refer to the county’s stunningly beautiful dingle peninsula. So I’m, I’m wondering, um, caroline, if you can talk a little bit more about this destination and share with our listeners that everything that you do have a in that area.

Gary Curran: 09:10 Um, um, it really is both a destination of discovery, not only for the place itself, which also on a personal journey because I think as you drive out to the peninsula one and from the south brings you from the carrier Porch, um, southern side of the county. And then on the northern side from our little capsule town at truly out dependence, that itself is a spine as I’m up a mountain of mountain ridges and, uh, you, it brings you 50 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean. So the further out you go, the more extraordinary scenery becomes as the base rebate to the north and Dingo page. The South opened up with a beautiful coastal drives at mountain passes and cliff sea cliffs. And at the very, at the ultimate end lies the blast. Good islands, which is really, um, I suppose now the signature Pointe, which tells the story of the culture, the Irish language, the music, the stories that have been handed down from generation to generation going back thousands of years.

Gary Curran: 10:29 Um, so, so even though the landscape grabs you as you, as you dive a bit deeper in and in, you will discover the thousands of years of heritage of archaeology, of the people. And as I say, the Irish music, the song, the dance and the pub, the food and everything that comes with it. Um, so that is your sense and through that sense of discovery, you also have these extraordinary moments of reflection where you can escape from the world and really have that time to yourself. And as one of our have three wonderful brand slogans, we couldn’t come up with one. So we came up with three, so we came up with. One is always magical, which an Irish, his ego need three. A tool number two is a new wonder every day, which means that as you get up, when you open your cart and you look out the window, you really don’t know what it is that you’re going to do. And number three then is food for the soul and that’s where that extraordinary spirituality and wellness and wellbeing comes from. Is that that sense of the landscape nurturing you and restoring you and rejuvenation you and the rejuvenation. I’ll handover to diary here because that’s only a part of this wonderful that we live in.

Caroline Boland: 11:54 Yeah, I suppose we like to consider it as. Especially, I suppose for a lot of travelers now their vacations there are seven or eight days long and that as we think it incorporates all of everything that’s good in Ireland all in one little peninsula, so even if you get sort of three, four days, there is literally something for for whatever your interest is and I suppose it’s that. Okay, look, it’s easy to talk about our landscape. It is magnificent. It’s unmatched. The southern Peninsula of Ireland are extraordinary, but I suppose the dingle peninsula I suppose in any, any trip you’ll take will be no more than 10 miles and you’ll escape onto the most beautiful cliffs, but at the same time you can do beautiful sandy beach walks. You can head out to the sea and some beautiful boat trips or you can be a landlord and just immerse yourself in the culture that there’s over 2000 archeological sites and dependency that people don’t know that it’s one of the most densely packed archeological sites in western Europe.

Caroline Boland: 13:11 Dinky town itself is wonderful. Is Toll. This town of Ireland is simple things like our bars and our posts. Some of them are nearly 200 years old and they’re fully operation and you have some define as traditional Irish musicians playing for free in the pubs at nighttime and you adjust your extraordinary food. It’s, look, we’re blowing our trumpet. I know that it’s hard to stop yourself. Do you know, uh, at times and I suppose no, 50 percent of the tourists that come through the door through the nat six, which is the main road into our Irish themselves and they are, can be choosy, but they love the atmosphere. Even the Irish find that there is a base of Ireland here that they love, that they can relax and have we called her, we called the crack. It’s plenty and you’ll find yourself going around with a smile on your face and you’ll see that in everyone walking around. So we’re extremely lucky to live here. And um, and I suppose we want to expose that. We, I suppose we are getting. We are so how long you can. We’re only here for the day control my guys. How are you going to see the place in the day?

Caroline Boland: 14:31 It deserves more time. And, and we know that because it gets the person to get out, to see and to, to, to park the car, open up a field or a hill and just breathe in there. It’s fantastic.

Nicole Mahoney: 14:45 Yeah, absolutely. What I love about that, and first of all I asked you to brag. Thank you. We haven’t even mentioned the activity and they think you’ve just inspired a lot of travelers in our listenership, but, uh, with that description. Um, but what I find, you know, is so common from all of the folks that I interview on this show is the passion that you have, you know, for the area where you live and how lucky we are to be in a field where we’re able to expose that. Right? And to carry that message. And I think that comes through loud and clear with, with both of you as you talked about the place that you love and where you work. And so what I’d like to do is they actually, um, you know, Carolyn, you started to talk a little bit about your brand slogans and a little bit about, you know, how you’re positioning yourselves as a vacation destination. And I’m wondering if we can start with you and just talk about the types of things and maybe it’s expanding on the brand, but the types of things that you have done to really help, uh, the dingle peninsula standout from the crowd. Just really understanding how I’m competitive, you know, this hospitality and travel industry as there are so many choices out there.

Gary Curran: 16:02 Um, I think really that it’s the people of the peninsula, the collectively working together have made the big, big difference. We are very fortunate to have such a diversity of interests on the peninsula from, um, first of all the cultural side with the Irish language and the music. Um, but to raise a great activity, providers, surfing, windsurfing experts, standup paddleboarding. We have a resident dolphins that has probably been one of the most extraordinary ambassadors for the independence over the last 33 years. And he is natural and he had stage and it is the same dolphin over that length of time. Um, but that represents the rich wonderful water is that we have where our eco boat tours regularly catch sight of whales visiting whales, dolphins and feel. Um, but, but I think it’s the people we have over 45 festivals and events throughout the year and they range from, I would say one of our cultural festivals is failing about tonight that encourage, that includes our has children of the peninsula to the grandparents.

Gary Curran: 17:21 The peninsula involved represents very much the are Irish language, our music, our culture or traditions to the extraordinary eating the food fest in Irish food awards and not the blast. And the heroin awards. That happens in October. We have the dingle races, we have film walking the most extraordinary walks and hikes on the peninsula with a long distance trail that is at 164 kilometers long. So it makes the most extraordinary. Walking and hiking holiday over a six day period. And then we’ve got all these extraordinary traditions. I’m bundled up from our, we call them naval or current racing, which are traditionally built boats or canoes that and our race and our different villages across the summer season. Um, so it’s the people from the welcome to their creativity to their diversity and that really has always been one of the standouts that we collectively bring together because it is our communities, um, that lead the way in this. And we just helped to facilitate them and promote what they do. So, so that is really, I think it’s our communities that really lead the way in terms of our success and researchers. That’s great. And, and Gary, do you have anything else

Caroline Boland: 18:48 sad too that caroline said volunteership also people don’t for no reason because we’ve had so many festivals now we actually have to break them down into, into treatment, which is a great thing for our business. There is something on all the time and it’s an a festival is driven by the people in that community and for us for protesting now they’re ever evolving, ever evolving. They’re ever evolving as well for people’s tastes and interests are based on sports and like read the dingle maritain with the tingle adventurous. There are things that wouldn’t have been around let’s say 10, 15 years ago. So, and that’s down to people’s engineered ingenuity to and adapting to the times. So we have our traditional festivals. Some of them like to think of race is you’re going back into the late 18 hundreds. We do have your, your modern festival for the modern traveler.

Caroline Boland: 20:13 People think festivals are getting outdoor things like the dingle walking first in February and people go, you go walking in Ireland in February. Yes we do. And it’s one of the best times to go walking. And so I suppose that’s some of our challenges is trying to this preconceived notions people have of our island in the winter and stuff. It must be written. This is actually quite useful and the light is unbelievable and the C is great with the big waves rolling in. So, uh, some of our challenges is trying to come back what people think sometimes, but there are opportunities. They are thinkers, people that we can go out to the market.

Nicole Mahoney: 21:04 Absolutely. And I want to explore those challenges and how you um, you know, some of the ideas that came up from that, but before we go there actually I think it would be important to learn a little bit more about how the uh, tourism alliance came about and how that started and kind of what’s at the, you know, what is the goal of that and how did it really get off the ground? Um, I don’t know if you want to start with that one, Gary.

Caroline Boland: 21:33 Well, it’s both. We both, we both evolved slowly because we had the components. The tourism I suppose possibly wanted to do was as caroline said, the community’s independence and recognize tourism is for us and it’s an important role. The employment opportunities in an area like this wouldn’t be great. And so what we have to develop, what we had and I develop is around the boat where you’re sorta saying extending our season, helping people stay long here while they, while they’re here, open up the different opportunities for them in terms of have we say activities they can partake in and and also then help smaller businesses along, which I suppose caroline will go into. This is small businesses that might be local, husband and wife running, running their little bnb or their restaurant. They don’t have marketing expertise. They don’t know how to get their name out or what we felt like if we collectively marketed and sold peninsula, it would raise all boats and for them to join our organization was what their contribution.

Caroline Boland: 23:06 It was their money, where their contribution that would fund our organization to go on the road. Which also made us. It made us frugal. We had to be inventive and how we marketed. We had to choose wisely how we spend our members’ money because we weren’t government supporters and we were pulling from a pool of 160 businesses in a remote. They couldn’t throw thousands of the project, they could throw literally a few hundred euros if they were lucky and that’s what we had to then we had to promise and not we had to promise not to over promise, but we have to promise that we will be patient and then we’ll work on this. I was on the five year plan, we taught them nothing would happen overnight and it is, and it took, it took, it took a, it took maybe took us a year and a half before we were fully off the ground and a three and a half years down the road now. So as we’re getting there, slowly but surely I’m, we’re learning ourselves and we’re forging relationships with new organizations ourselves or a small area. We’re not dumb. We’re not a cliff. Scores were not. So these are big, big towns with town councils that are supported and everything. So we’re, we’re, we’re the small little scrappy fighter in the corner.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:31 We’re here. You know, there’s probably a lot of our listeners who can relate to that. I know in our preinterview chat, we were talking a little bit about this and um, you know, how creative and inventive you have to be when you are a smaller, small, scrappy fighter as you described, you know, that smaller destination would that smaller budget and you really have to get, get inventive and creative. And Carolyn, I’m wondering if you can share, you know, a little bit about how you are doing that and I know you have the five year plan and can you speak a little bit about how, you know, through the alliance you are actually doing that.

Gary Curran: 25:13 I’ve said a lot of it is really about, first of all knowing what we have here and you know, they, I suppose gathering all our wonderful experiences together. Um, we don’t have, have a big budget at all. So everything we look at assess every year is based generally about, for example, going straight to consumer shows because we know that we can then control the message that we to deliver, which is the fact that we’re a destination and international attraction. And as you will know in finger lakes in upstate New York, is that when you’ve got a big destination sitting on your doorstep, it means that you can be overload, overshadowed, are be just an attraction as opposed to as post as opposed to be considered a destination. So, so that’s what we very much put our message out as also that, um, we, um, there’s a number of things actually one is that we are wonderful shoulder and winter destination because we have that mild climate as Gary was referring to and also looking at those wonderful trees and blocks and hills of upstate New York.

Gary Curran: 26:33 Um, you know, we, we don’t get the ice and the snow and the frost bash you guys might have. But also everything that we do is very much is our hub. Tangletown is our hub. We try to spread our visitors right across the peninsula. So we look at walking and cycling, which are the synergies towards them, even educational tours and that are running right across our peninsula. And we go then to consumer shows that highlight our outdoor activities, walking, hiking, cultural holidays. Because that’s what we’ve got in spades. We target what we will call the fit markers here in Ireland. I’m not sure if that’s the thing and the family market and even, you know, the golden market, the over 55 or six days. So the active retirement markers and these are people that want to come and spend time and sometimes we are fighting against, you know, a little bit like swimming upstream and when you know promotion is, is a courage out to larger operators and we like to go and tell our story to directly to consumers that come and stay here.

Gary Curran: 27:55 You can have your vacation in. Not quite a condominium. Condominium is in sort of a natural word for us here, but we’ve got these beautiful holiday homes, our guest houses. You can come and stay three, five, seven days, two weeks, um, and make it special for you can immerse yourself and live like a local, you know, do what we do, you know, common, you know, uh, come to our festivals, you know, come out, you know, do the summer camps with the kids are, you know, go, go surfing in wintertime. I go hiking all year round. But so, so what we do is we do is organic kw. We were very selective in the shows we do and that’s why going to upstate New York and was really an exciting move for us. It is what it was a case of, you know, wanting to get out to travel professionals. That is a message here. There’s a way of holiday on the west coast of Ireland in particular that may not have been considered so much before and um, and we do it all organically. Um, so that we don’t do a lot of expensive digital marketing online because we don’t have the resources to do it. So we tell our story and, and, and have wonderful opportunities like talking to you today.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:10 That’s, that’s terrific. And I can really appreciate that, you know, the, the kind of grassroots work that you are doing to get to carry that message out. Um, and what I appreciated too about what you just talked about is how focused you are on the markets that you’re looking at and also, um, you know, what’s important to them and what’s going to appeal to them when they’re considering a vacation in your area. Um, and I think it’s really interesting how you’ve kind of keyed in to the kind of the shoulder and winter seasons as, as great opportunities for visitors as well. Um, and, and I’m wondering, Gary, you started to get to this a little bit earlier, but I’m wondering when thinking about those, um, shoulder and winter seasons you had talked about, you know, really trying to change those perceptions, um, is, is there something that you’re doing that you have seen a work to,

Caroline Boland: 30:12 to help you do that on an island? Very dependent on incoming flights. And then I suppose in the wintertime with the year, I suppose, I suppose traditionally you see, you see the sunshine and everything like that. But what has helped us, I suppose the adoptation of false Ireland have what’s called the wild Atlantic way, which the driving rooms of the west coast of Ireland a pose its own challenges too. But for us, even the, the, the, the naming of it, the wild Atlantic way means you can come here when it’s wild and when it’s extra, it’s more spectacular. But we are finding people, I suppose there was a lot more of the value aspect comes into Ireland. So your, your, your, your tourists, that’s looking for value. There will see that. Hold on a second here. Now the flight difference between July and October. Look at the price difference.

Caroline Boland: 31:30 And first of all, the realize that the price of the flight is the six week. Next one another to go to rent their car. Suddenly they’re saving 25 percent in the car rental, maybe 50 percent. Suddenly they look at the accommodation that’s 20 to 30 percent cheaper. So your whole package of value really comes true then when you, when you leave the summer months and so I think that’s definitely coming out or maybe not more like yourself just traveling, travel writers and travel, John Our speak and people are looking for value a lot more. So I, I’d say that there isn’t value to be found in the summer, but definitely people are going, oh look, a second note, I can get two weeks off work there in October. Uh, the weather isn’t too bad and Ireland, why don’t we go and I suppose they get to live it up a bit to when you have that extra space in the back pocket.

Caroline Boland: 32:19 Uh, so that, that there’s a number of factors. We traditionally your, your, your, your, your, I suppose the nationalities that travel in the winter, you’d see, we’d see a lot more of the, of more Australians in the winter months because Australians are coming to you or have them because it’s their summer and it’s actually too hot and then it’s like yourself. So you’ll see more countries coming into because it’s sort of inflammatory. Ellen. So we see a lot more Canadians, Latin, more northern Europeans coming down because it’s actually too cold. So if you’re wanting to hike in order initially in January, it’s pretty much impossible. So they’ll come to Ireland. The walking group might come across for five days based on cells here and go walk and because they can and they can at home. So it’s a different, it’s different now. I won’t say it now that these people might be their first time to Ireland that have done the research. They’ll say, oh, I know that as I’ve done that, but I’m going to go back here and then they got to spend a bit more time. And you’re dealing with different travelers between your, somewhere in your off season.

Nicole Mahoney: 33:34 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really great point. And uh, I, I think, I think there is a difference between first time travelers and, and you know, second, a second time and third time travelers as to how deep into the country and the experience that they want to. They want to get a great point. Um, so now looking into the future, Carolyn, is there anything that you’re working on that you’re really excited about?

Gary Curran: 33:59 Yes. Um, well following on from teabags and myself and my colleague Mary from Dingle Distillery, we drove across to western Massachusetts and visited our new sister city in west Springfield and um, so we had an opportunity to spend a number of days there with only mayor will, who hosted us and looked after us and introduced us to many different organizations, department officials there, but also to meet Western Massachusetts, a Tourism Organization, um, Mk and her team to meet the local high school, the local colleges to go and visit the eastern states exposition. And um, but more importantly to me both business educational, you know, I’m tourism there at to look at new ways of, you know, what is this, is it, is it just a token name on a sign or is it something that, you know, some really good practical and you know, really sort of relationship building and joint opportunities that can grow and make a real difference.

Gary Curran: 35:17 And particularly when the blast, good islands, which I referred to earlier on at the islanders, emigration at Springfield and then other generations, you know, group from Springfield to West Springfield and the greater region there. And so we’ve got it. We’ve got a genuine authentic story there and say the people from the peninsula and western Massachusetts. So we’re very excited because we’re currently exploring ways with our new sister city on how we can grow together in a scurry. So to say, do, you know, um, you know, build for the future, you know, get our kids over there and their kids over here and, you know, new ways. But also, um, as an, as an alliance, we have been looking at ways we know the eastern states of the US or one of our most important to target markets. And we know that in coming to the states and telling our story as we did through tea bags and with yourself today, but also to our visit to west Springfield. We have wash, our American friends would like to come and Holiday Inn and um, in, in the environment that we have here, the landscape. But also the peace and tranquility and the friendships that can be made and we know that that’s what they would like and now we’ve got an opportunity with our sister city to make it happen. So that’s really what we’re excited about going forward.

Nicole Mahoney: 36:53 So that’s really exciting. And I, and I love that you’re um, you know, forging that relationship with your sister city and, and uh, you know, not just letting it be a name on a sign, right? Seeing it for the opportunity that it is, I’m really getting to know the people there and building those relationships I think is just so smart. And again goes back to what we talked about earlier, which is, you know, building organically, getting your message out organically and really getting those folks in Springfield to help you do that. I think that’s fantastic.

Caroline Boland: 37:25 Will. And we were specific about that. We were maybe a little bit with sales contrary about if we wanted to not just throw a delegation over, put a sign outside the town and blanket. There we are. We wanted it also like we out a good craft here and lovely producers itself to say like a simple thing would be to say for those guys maybe to have the opportunity to open a pop up shop. I’m pretty Christmas. Maybe something can be reciprocated from the other end and start with small stuff like that, but it will be trades, obviously tourism, but there’s so much more we can do wishes and to open up what we have in both, both from the US side as well. Let them show what’s out there because certain times Irish people need to be educated to says the finger lakes. We have great guests that few years ago, Satan my own guest house and they had a winery in finger lakes as a little gift. They left the in my room so I. that’s my. My memory is forced to the finger lakes and suddenly there was research done and they tweets it out of the great people from finger lakes who just live buttons. The reasoning behind them. Something as simple as that.

Nicole Mahoney: 38:57 Great, great example of a creative way to forge those relationships and, and to help get those ambassadors right?

Caroline Boland: 39:06 Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And that’s what you do. These were two great ambassadors for your area. It doesn’t have to be mad science.

Gary Curran: 39:16 We believe it’s, you know, when you don’t have resources. And also if we look back at the history and the story of the Dinger, it’s about relationships. It’s about people and you know, you don’t have to have money to make a new friend, you just have to be genuine and, and just welcoming and just want to spend time or share it is a bit of, you know, and build a relationship and I’m checking where those synergies and such a relationship, a genuine, authentic relationship going back with, uh, the greater springfield region, you know, for hundreds of years. Um, that’s got to be celebrated. It’s got to be respected and it’s got to be maintained and developed. And, and as I’ve said, look, we’re looking to the generations that are coming in behind this.

Nicole Mahoney: 40:09 Yeah, I think that’s fantastic. So I want to touch a little bit on collaboration. We’ve actually already talked about it in so many ways, um, but I would like to get a little bit more of your perspective on it. And, uh, I think right at the very heart of, of what you are doing with the tourism alliance with those hundred and 60 businesses, I think you mentioned, you know, I mean, that is a perfect example of a collaboration. And Gary, you mentioned, you know, how a, how a rising tide lifts all boats and I think that that’s one of the really unique things that we have in this tourism and hospitality industry are these unique relationships where, you know, perceived competitors might come together and actually cooperate on, you know, marketing and, and share in success for everyone. And so I’m wondering if I’m, Gary, if you have an example of a time, um, when a collaboration really worked, you know, for you.

Caroline Boland: 41:19 I suppose at the beginning we would have nine different councils feeding into our alliance and I suppose it was to collaborate that collective and to collaborate that all their individual and knowledges into one place. That’s for us. Um, that was our big turn. And they get the buy in then that we’d all sing with one vision now that has to be carried through to now and where we would meet, we would say he the individual sorta Paris village as their representative and we meet once a quarter and even while caroline is doing the decision would say to go to finger lakes, we would have heard Kara made four or five decisions on where we could possibly go each. It was a representative from their village will decide what will be the best for us, for our area, what would say were raised those boards so little. And so each community decides on how we’re going to proceed with our sales for the year.

Caroline Boland: 42:35 Uh, caroline will make the, make a shortlist of the opportunity. Yes, we will. We will decide on costs. We decided on when it happens with society, is it warranted? And sometimes a risks when we take. And then you’d have to take resale, but we’ll know exactly how we’re spending our money, where our were gone, how long would it take if we go to that show, white opportunities will be missed. So there’s a collective decision by each, each, each member there to say, yes, this is what we’re going, we’ve gone fall back in to this and look, we won’t saved from one or two times. We went off, we learned our lessons that didn’t work out. We went out with the wrong materials, we went out on our own and so now we make mistakes, but we’ll come back and we’ll say to the counselor, nope, that didn’t work or this worked and that works.

Caroline Boland: 43:29 So it’s like from we started in day one as a collaboration for us still is and it’s working on that and then keeping each community involved and engaged and what caroline, we’re talking about finger lakes and a lot of caroline’s work here. The Cara model will be on the ground going to the community and saying, what’s your needs? What would you like? Where are the pressure points were we losing out on? And that’s that then formulates our ideas and we’re going to do that. Not just trade shows with how we’re going to develop our website, what we’re going to be pushing for social media channels, basically materials and branding we’re going to run with stuff is boring stuff. It’s not just going to trade shows like brochure designs and colors and I remember we came up with our brand and the slogans. Caroline went onward earlier.

Caroline Boland: 44:33 We could get a collective idea on brandon Silgan, so because it’s making sure that that the 160 members are represented correctly. Yes, you can hit every member on what you do with every trade show, but it has to be of the peninsula. That’s, that’s, that’s our collaboration. Collaboration is with the people we work with and look, we had to. We had to get buy in from them when we started out from dpt and keep that going all the time and keeping them informed. And Josh, we’re doing so that’s what we’re cutting now next month and there’ll be reports giving us on where we’re going, what we attended and so that’s. It’s ongoing basically.

Nicole Mahoney: 45:28 Yeah. I think that’s a terrific example and you know, the, the, the challenge of working with those nine different community councils, but then the real achievement and really getting everyone to come together and you know, as you said, that you’re tapping into their collective thinking and getting to one shared vision. And I think that that’s just a really important point and I want to make sure listeners picked up on a couple of other things that you mentioned because I think they’re really, really great advice to think about. And that is this whole idea of keeping everyone involved and engaged all of those stakeholders, you know, making sure that they are um, uh, informed as you said, and that you’re reporting out to them so that they understand and can continue to see that, that shared vision.

Caroline Boland: 46:18 Yeah. And so it goes across and we also try not to have meetings for the sake of meetings because we would say members all are small business owners. They’re all busy and they’re all working themselves. So we try to have maybe four meetings a year or we’ll all knock our heads together and then we’ll trust a additionally counsel and caroline then to run ahead with. So we have that inbuilt. Definitely. Hopefully will carry us through.

Nicole Mahoney: 46:53 Yeah, I think that’s a really important point too. You do definitely have to have trust. Carolina. I’m wondering if you can talk about, um, any best practices or you know, how you keep that up, collaboration going and, and what you’re actually doing with feet on the ground as, as Gary had had described.

Gary Curran: 47:14 And I think that trust is, is hugely important to call, um, because you know, people can feel isolated, you know, it’s one thing living on the west coast, but even the villages themselves, you know, particularly with the amount of spine can create just the color divide whether it’s there or not. So I suppose best practice isn’t listening. You have to go out into each community first and foremost. And there’s no quick fix to this because by going out and reaching out and being in within a community, you’re showing that you care. So a lot of it, it’s down to, you know, sort of you could say the basic elements of life and when you can listen and ask for people’s opinions, you know, it’s extraordinary how involved they will feel if they feel that it’s being asked genuinely and then when they can see it being listened to, you know, some, some advice you’ll get or feedback is good.

Gary Curran: 48:20 Others may not be able to be used at that particular time but, but I suppose that is key and then it’s by really reaching out and keeping them connected. Sometimes they’ll reach back in, others not, but it’s very, very skilled and sometimes then when you can deliver the projects that are of value to them, that’s when the big big changes. And we have that with a project for the northern side of the peninsula earlier this year where we were able to support and getting a new community and visitor at both service put in place and what that took, you know, um, the work of I suppose a year and a half to do and in finding out what they needed most and then finding a partner or an opportunity for that team. What looking the more that comes back to, um, and then when you just asked, the simple thing is, you know, can you help us, you know, our, how can we help you?

Gary Curran: 49:19 Um, that goes a huge way. But look, if it’s ongoing, you can’t just say that you go to a meeting and it’s done and dusted. You have to be seen going back again. And again. And that’s why I think for a lot of regions like ourselves here, I’m on the west coast that, you know, as a quick fix never will work. But where you can have as they might so say skin in the game are, you know, that you’re, you’re, you’re building a team here. That. And even though the team members will all be individually in their own right, that collectively and collaboratively we can become a good team. I think that’s what our vision should be. We thought that come together with the new branding and, and I think that, you know, we need to work hard and it’ll be ongoing, you know, I think sometimes when we go to national agencies, regional agencies and Ngos, they actually have done that now. No, you can’t, you know, you, you have to keep looking to how you can keep it going because people will change interest change

Caroline Boland: 50:28 and you have to be able to adapt to those changes.

Nicole Mahoney: 50:31 I couldn’t agree more. Um, so gary and Carolyn, I knew this would be a really awesome conversation and I want to, um, before we wrap up, I want to give you an opportunity to add anything that you wish you would have that you would like to have said that maybe I didn’t ask you about. Um, and so, Gary, we’ll start with you. Is there, is there any last thoughts that you’d like to leave our listeners with?

Caroline Boland: 50:54 I know I’m, I suppose recurring theme in my conversation if they do come to Ireland to spin, spin down to the southwest and now to the peninsula and just to, uh, to see the opportunities that are there for an absolutely fantastic, fantastic vacation because it is a wonderful place. It’s a place to relax and it’s a place where as the whole of Ireland in one place. So now we’re delighted the opportunity to talk to you and we’re grateful for that will hopefully be nevahold spreading our message and pop back on, on your side of the Atlantic soon hopefully. And when our head down just trying to help small businesses and the peninsula.

Nicole Mahoney: 52:03 How about you, Carolyn? Any last thoughts?

Caroline Boland: 52:06 No, I actually, it’s the one for window. Um, I think that having a conversation today with you and Nicole shows you that when you do go out and you do your research and you go out and you try new things and you go to an organization or to a conference such as bags and have an opportunity to meet new people. And once you’re going out with the values of the people that you’re representing and you know, the passion that you have for it, it’s never worked. It’s always that wonderful opportunity just to spread the message. And what I think I leave it, it was the point that we sort of spoke about before the show. But I suppose for, for your listeners to remember us, we are the destination on the left when you look, are we, um, so, so we want you to remember that every time they listened to your show at, particularly as the west of Ireland in Europe, but also that at two your show, I think that with the listenership is, is that through your linkages maybe to keep conversations like this going because I think that we all learn from each

Gary Curran: 53:25 other and that in the world of tourism, I think the grassroots is really such an important way to go because why do we all travel? We traveled to meet people to see and new environments, new landscapes, but most importantly to see new, you know, other ways of life and connect with people. And as the current trend is like local and we want people to do is come and stay and join us.

Nicole Mahoney: 53:57 That’s just a fabulous way to end and I really appreciate both of you taking time out of your schedules to join us today. We have learned so much and we’ll look forward to keeping that conversation going. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: 54:09 Thank you. 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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