Content Strategy at Starved Rock Lodge, with Kathy Casstevens

Episode 193

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Kathy Casstevens is the Marketing Director at Starved Rock Lodge. She is also a photographer, tourism professional, and lover of nature. Kathy launched GnatTravel a year ago to promote travel in a different way. She is also the chair of the LaSalle County Tourism coalition. Destination on the Left is joined by Kathy Casstevens, the Marketing Director at Starved Rock Lodge. During our conversation, Kathy shares her journey into destination marketing and talks about how she has used creativity and collaboration to market Starved Rock Lodge on a shoestring budget. She provides a bunch of tips and insider hacks for marketing that will drive results at any destination, and she walks us through the content strategy that helped bring over two million visitors through Starved Rock last year.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Kathy’s journey into destination marketing with Starved Rock Lodge
  • How Kathy has used creativity and collaboration to highlight Starved Rock’s unique features and make it stand out from the crowd
  • How Kathy leverages digital photography to drive visitor traffic at Starved Rock
  • Different platforms Kathy is using to share Starved Rock’s massive digital photo library
  • Systems and processes Kathy has in place to manage her content strategy
  • How Kathy has been communicating with the press during lockdown
  • Different collaborations that have helped Starved Rock Lodge grow its visitor base

Starved Rock Lodge

Kathy Casstevens is the Marketing Director at Starved Rock Lodge in Utica, IL. She joins Destination on the Left to share her journey into destination marketing and talk about how she has used creativity and collaboration to market Starved Rock Lodge on a shoestring budget. During our conversation, Kathy provides a bunch of tips and insider hacks for marketing that will drive results at any destination. She walks us through the content strategy that helped bring over two million visitors through Starved Rock last year, and discusses some of the exciting projects on the horizon that aim to generate even more traffic next year.

What Makes You Unique?

Starved Rock Lodge is nestled in the heart of Starved Rock State Park in North-Central Illinois. It is such a unique place because it completely disrupts the rolling meadows and cornfields with 18 glacier-cut canyons, seasonal waterfalls, and unbelievable views. The lodge sits atop an 80 ft bluff overlooking Starved Rock on the Illinois River. And as you can imagine, there is a lot of material to work with in designing a marketing campaign that sets Starved Rock apart from the pack. Last year, they had over two million visitors come through their destination, and as travel and tourism start to pick back up, they plan to do more. Photography is one of the primary tools Kathy uses to accomplish that goal.

Build Your Content Library

When Kathy started working at Starved Rock Lodge, they literally had ONE digital photo. Now, they have a digital library of hundreds of thousands. With such an unusual landscape in an unsuspecting geographic area, being able to show prospective travelers what makes it unique is vital to their marketing efforts. Over the years, Kathy has expanded the range of platforms Starved Rock uses to promote its massive digital photo library, and she is able to reach a significantly greater audience through apps like tik tok, Instagram, and a handful of others. Staying organized is a challenge in and of itself, but if you can build a massive content library of your own, there is so much you can do with it at any given time.

Nicole Mahoney: 00:18 Hello listeners. This is Nicole Mahoney, host of destination on the left. Welcome to this week’s episode with another interesting guest Kathy cast. Steven’s the marketing director at starved rock lodge in Illinois during our interview, Kathy and I talk about how she has used creativity and collaboration to market starved, rock lodge on a shoestring budget. She provides so many practical tips and insider hacks to marketing that you will definitely want to have your pen and paper ready because you will want to take notes. Kathy is a photographer, tourism, professional, and lover of nature. She recently launched Nat travel to promote travel in a different way. And she’s the chair of the LeSalle County tourism coalition. Get ready for a fast paced and information packed conversation. But first I wanted to share this important information with you, Kathy. Thank you so much for joining me today. I am looking forward to our conversation.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:20 I know our guests are going to learn a lot from you, but before we get started, can you share your story with our listeners in your own words? Just a lot more context to our conversation. I’d love to, well, I graduated from Purdue university long time ago and I studied photography and public relations and marketing. And then I became after college, I became the news director of the first low power TV station in Illinois. And I created 10,000 plus new stories during my time there where I shot video and edited it. So that gives you a little context on my background in photography and video, TV and marketing. And then many years later, I got hired here at star rock lodge for my dream job, which is the marketing director. And I also serve right now as the chair of the tourism coalition for LaSalle County.

Nicole Mahoney: 02:09 So I cared deeply about the whole region and I grew up here. So I know the area, well, my parents worked here at the lodge and so I have a lot of history going into this. That’s awesome. And I love how you describe it as your dream job offer listeners. Say, could you share with them a little bit about what starved rock lodge is? And I know it’s located in one of your state parks, right? We are a state park we’re located in North central, Illinois at the intersection of route 80 and 39 are near there. And it’s a very unusual place because you’re going along the corn fields in flatlands of Illinois. And then all of a sudden we have 18 glacier cut canyons with seasonal waterfalls and these amazing views and just a great display of sandstone. And then our 80 year old lodge is perched upon a

Kathy Casstevens: 03:00 Bluff that overlooks star rock, which is another Butte that sticks up out of the Illinois river. Many, many years ago, tens of thousands of years ago, native Americans inhabited this area. And then over time it was taken over and became starved rock. That’s the legend of how one Indian tribes charged another to their deaths. And that’s a sad legend of how this got its name, but as I always say, many happy things have happened here since then. And so now it’s become a tourist attraction where 2 million plus people came last year to see what makes it so unusual and great.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:33 That’s amazing. That’s a lot of visitors too. And I imagine if you’re in the middle of cornfields and all of a sudden this, this beautiful park and these glaciers just appear, but there’s probably not a huge population around, right. So 2 million visitors is it’s quite quite a lot.

Kathy Casstevens: 03:51 Well, the 2 million visitors come from out of town, the community itself is very small and consider to be in the country.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:58 Yeah, absolutely. That sounds, that sounds fabulous. And um, I’d love to see it for myself someday. So we’d love to talk about creativity and collaboration on the show. And I know you have so much to share on these topics, especially with your background and, uh, you know, the work that you did in and how you evolved from photography and video TV and into your position now. So the first thing I’d like to get your insight on is, is really how you can stand out from the crowd. And then I’m curious what you have done, uh, to really help, uh, starved rock lodge stands out from the crowd.

Kathy Casstevens: 04:39 Well, if I were to sum it up in one word, it would be photography because to me, you can’t tell this story without showing wonderful photographs of it. And so when I started, we had one digital, we have a digital photo, they said run, and now we have hundreds of thousands. And so, you know, over time I’ve been here 15 years, we’ve established an enormous and wonderful digital film, digital photographic library. And it’s wonderful. So to anybody out there who wants to stand alone, you’ve got to be able to show what makes you different. And obviously these amazing waterfalls and canyons and this does of nature make us unique. So that’s what makes us stand out. Not to mention the fact that Starbucks, the park is a national historic landmark and the hotel we’re on the marketing director is on the national register of historic places.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:30 Hmm. Yeah. That, that, um, definitely helps make you stand out, but I totally agree that you need to be able to show, you know, what, what it is. And, um, people are very visual now. And can you talk a little bit, I actually have two questions about the digital film and photo library one, um, how, how are you tracking all of this photography and storing it? Cause I know that’s definitely a challenge that I’ve talked to, you know, other folks in your role as being one of the challenges in terms of accumulating all of this different photography differences, showing different seasons with people, without people, different, you know, angles, how do you catalog all of that?

Kathy Casstevens: 06:12 Well, okay. So when I, as time goes by more and more platforms come into existence. So at first it might’ve just been Facebook, but now we have Instagram, tick tock, um, Snapchat, you know, there’s YouTube. And so for me, I like the ones that I can show my boss. I like the tracking mechanisms and analytics of Google and Instagram and Facebook and YouTube because they, I can show which of my videos over time has had the greatest impact or which of my videos in the last three days has had the greatest impact or the last month. So I upload simultaneously to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube or Facebook and YouTube. And that allows me to track what I’m doing. So that’s really important. And then Google just yesterday sent me, I just wanted to share with everybody who’s listening, but if you work in the food and beverage industry sharing JPEGs of your menus for sharing photos of your menus, clear ones, I posted 37 photos recently and they had 90,287 views last.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:21 Hmm.

Kathy Casstevens: 07:22 So that snaps into perspective, the value of current and accurate photography, whether you’re showcasing real people, having real fun or the way your menu really looks or the beauty of your attraction, whatever it might be. So that’s what I focused on. And then of course, with COVID-19 we had another set of protocols that we wanted to show people like how we put up a prolific dividers between our front desk and our guests and then our host stand and how we socially distance our tables.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:52 Absolutely. I think that that’s really great point. And so photos of the menus, I think that’s a really great golden nugget that you just shared with the, with the listeners. And I’m curious about, um, Google, and are you uploading that right to your Google profile? Or are you sharing it on all those other channels? Yes. Wonderful.

Kathy Casstevens: 08:15 And I might add Yelp because near finder and near me and Yelp, when people come into the area, most of which are all of our visitors are from out of town and they want to know what’s to eat post to me or what does it look like near me? Or can I make a reservation? So that’s why keeping all these things standard on keeping them up to date on all these preferences, right?

Nicole Mahoney: 08:37 Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s fantastic advice. So you mentioned, yeah, go ahead.

Kathy Casstevens: 08:43 It’s interrupt you. But I was just going to say, if you don’t know how to save a document that you’ve created as a JPEG, as a PDF, and then in the document, which you can make changes, you need to learn that skill. That is what allows people to see. You can’t share a PDF on social media. It’s mainly made for photos and photo extensions are called JPEGs in most cases. So that’s why I saved my menus to JPEGs and PDFs. So if you’re uploading it to a website, I forgot to add that important component on the webmaster also. And so making sure that your web information is accurate and your Facebook event information is accurate,

Nicole Mahoney: 09:22 Really important. Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. And I think those are really great points. Um, and I love that you’re pulling in all of these little details, like things that people don’t, you know, remember to, to double check, you might be going into your website and updating the event or, you know, something on the calendar and your website, then you forget, or maybe you don’t have that checklist that says, make sure you’ve got the Facebook event, you know, updated as well.

Kathy Casstevens: 09:49 And this has never been more challenging than during this past month when we’ve canceled hundreds of events, hundreds, and it has just broken my heart to cancel them. But the public wants to know, is it, is it temporarily unavailable? Is it canceled? Whatever. And so I’ve managed all my assistant went on maternity leave. So that’s why I had to assume that role as well as my own. So it’s just a courtesy to your guests to keep your information.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:17 Absolutely. It definitely, it helps, uh, courtesy for the guests, but also just helps with a better guest experience overall. Right?

Kathy Casstevens: 10:25 Exactly. And we have a partnership with LaSalle County as well as the heritage quarter convention and visitors Bureau and the Illinois office of tourism. So I’m constantly making sure that my outbound messages go out to them as well. If we have a new menu with changes, send it out to them so that the tourism entities around you can help you market yourself. That’s their job, but they can’t do it if you don’t give them accurate information and UpToDate photos.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:51 Absolutely. So how do you remember all of these, these different steps, Kathy, as it’s something that’s just ingrained in you or do you have certain systems in place that help you make sure that you’re hitting all of these channels that you’re updating all of the right places that you’re keeping your tourism friends updated? It seems like a lot of details to keep track of.

Kathy Casstevens: 11:11 Yeah, it is a lot of details. That’s right. Uh, every morning I try to look at all the major platforms to see what’s changing, especially Facebook first and then our website as well, every single day, make sure if we have a date that has got become, uh, it’s not valid anymore. I have to go in and remove that date physically. So it just is a constant. Yes, I have checklists everywhere so that I don’t forget anything. And the backend I’m also helping our entire company go through COVID changes where we have to change policies and we have to change menus and that graphic design work takes time as well. So if I were to share a tidbit it’s to become proficient in basic graphic design, so you can go and break into a PDF and change a menu and then send it to a printer. However you duplicate them, you know, save it as a JPEG and so on. So being technically savvy is an ongoing challenge, no matter how old you are, but I think the older you are, the more technophobic you might be. And so you can’t fear it. You have to embrace it. That’s the way I look at it. So I have an iPhone, I have a Nikon camera and I have a Sony 89 because I just want to be able to change and not even think about it.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:28 Yeah. I think that’s a, that’s really great. And that’s awesome advice to, you know, um, to not be afraid of technology and to, and to embrace it. Um, and you can do so much with it. If, if you just, you know, take, take a few minutes and try, right. You’re not going to break it. I don’t think

Kathy Casstevens: 12:47 Well. Right. And what I’ve learned over the last, Oh, I don’t know, 10 years let’s say is that a post on a social media platform is nice of words, but a photo to go with it is better. And a video to go with it is even better yet. You can look and track the virility of what you’re doing and a short video, 30 seconds or less is going to have more viewership than anything at all. So I learned how to do I movie. I have another movie production platform that I actually have two of them that I can work with that are very simplistic. They’re not as complicated as Adobe premiere because that’s overwhelming to most people. I just want to do something pretty much drag and drop and add some pretty music and up it goes. And so I can produce a video in 30 minutes or less from a hike that I took the other day.

Kathy Casstevens: 13:31 I just went out and said to people, if you’ve been breathing fluorescent light, you need to get out of the office and go whatever great outdoor experiences outside your door, go out there. So I made a little video about that and it was, you know, very short, less than a minute and up it went and then it got shared and it got shared. And, and as in state, um, there’s an acronym from college that I remember it’s called Guzzi wig. And it means what you see is what you get. And lots of times it has to do with photography and a full frame camera, but it also has great relevance today because if your dining room is not fancy and you have paper napkins, then don’t show a stock photo of your dining room with a cloth napkin. Cause that’s not the experience people are going to get. So authenticity is really key here. And, you know, during COVID, if you don’t have your makeup on and you just don’t look your best. So what just be that face of your business so that people can relate to you as a real person who is telling the truth.

Nicole Mahoney: 14:28 Yeah, absolutely. And I couldn’t agree more with that and trust is so important and even more important right now I’m going to ever has been before. Yeah. So I think that’s fantastic now, Kathy, you’ve already given us so much to think about when I, I know that and we talked about coven a little bit, but I know that during this time, um, you’ve actually stepped up some of your marketing, but not necessarily your marketing spend. Um, and I’m wondering if you could share with our listeners, the types of things you’ve been doing to, to keep your, um, you know, to keep your business relevant and to stay connected to your customers.

Kathy Casstevens: 15:10 Well, I movie has helped me a lot. If I, you know, that would probably be the cheapest way to do it with an iPhone and you can edit on your phone and it saves so much time. And then you accumulate this video library that you can go back to. So if you have photos of how you’ve changed your business to comply with COVID-19, you can show that in a brief video. So whenever I’m shooting video, I always shoot still photos as well. And I try to shoot both ways every time, meaning vertically and horizontally, so that you’re ready for Instagram square photos, horizontal, whatever you need. You’ve got it. I also bring a professional camera with me a lot, but when I don’t have time or I think it’s not worthy of that much effort, I just do it with my phone and get it done.

Kathy Casstevens: 15:55 That’s really important is to produce often posts regularly and be a part of what you’re doing. So I would go on and I’d say, hi, I’m Kathy, Kathy Stevens. I’m here with a fireside chat. And then I’d say that again with my poolside chat. And, um, they’re probably watching the pool behind me. And it was just really funny to do it when the lodge was completely empty. But so many people commented and said, we love seeing your videos while you were shutdown. It made us want to come there when you reopened. And that was the goal of, of try to stay connected with your audience. Another thing that we use where all of my marketing money was shut down, except for two things, all of it, one was constant contact, some email correspondence. We happen to have 30,000 double opt in recipients in our database, but you got to start somewhere.

Kathy Casstevens: 16:44 And then I also have a video production program called slightly promo videos, which I think is extraordinarily good for the price. So that’s all I’ve done since March 17th, I’ve had no marketing budget and I come to work. I work full time and I think, Oh right, we can’t rent rooms. So what would people do in lieu of that? They buy a gift card for a future date when we could rent a room or get, give that to mom for mother’s day. And so I did promotions for mother’s day father’s day and so on. And so looking forward is really important. What is the next holiday coming at us and how are we going to handle it? That kind of thing.

Nicole Mahoney: 17:19 Yeah. I think that’s a, that’s really great. And I love how you’re, um, doing both, you’re looking forward and thinking about what’s coming up, but you’re also thinking about what can I do now? What do, what do our customers need to know now? What can I show them now? Um, yeah. And I think also what’s really good advice that I hope listeners is that you’re shooting in different formats, um, both horizontally and vertically, so that you have many options, um, depending on the channel that you’re using photography for. Right.

Kathy Casstevens: 17:51 And so then if you put all those photos into iCloud and then you download them and put them into, if you will, a COVID-19 folder, our restaurant folder, a menu folder of people having fun, you know, that kind of thing. So you don’t have to think again, when you’re going to try to find those photos, although with, with iCloud, it’s pretty speedy to go back in your photos through time. I, I right now have over 16,000 photos on my iPhone that I’m accessing for these videos that I’m making and I’m sharing them with the media. And if you can do a press release about significant things, that’s important to

Nicole Mahoney: 18:26 Yeah, absolutely. Um, the press releases are important. Can you talk a little bit more about that and how, how you’ve been communicating with the press through this whole thing?

Kathy Casstevens: 18:37 Yes, I’d love to, well, as you know, my background goes back to journalism from a long, long time ago, and whenever you’re writing a press release, you need to tell who

Nicole Mahoney: 18:45 What, when, where,

Kathy Casstevens: 18:47 How, and how much that is probably the only template that I ever used for a TA for a press release. And I’m trying to make it as factual and short as possible. And I always say lead with your Trump card. You know, if it’s good news that you’re sharing, then lead with that and say, you know, never in the history of whatever has this happened, but we’re happy to tell you that data. And so that’s, that’s the way I approach it. I don’t over inundate the marketplace with press releases because then you don’t get any credibility. They don’t run your press releases. It really has to be noteworthy.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:24 Absolutely. That’s wonderful, wonderful advice. So, Kathy, I want to switch gears just a little bit. Um, you’ve touched on it already a little bit, but we do like to talk about collaboration on this show. And I just find that it’s so common in travel and tourism, you know, the collaborations that you see everywhere you look, uh, when it comes to this industry. But I think it’s even kind of unique to the industry. This concept I like to call coopertition where perceived competitors might come together and work on a program together, um, because they can do more together than they can do on their own. And so I’m curious if there’s some collaborations that have really worked for you, um, that you could share with us.

Kathy Casstevens: 20:05 Absolutely. Well, every hotel in our County pays a pillow tax and stove rock lodge, where I work pays about 80 to 90% of the pillow tax accumulated. So I have a vested interest in how that pillow tax gets reinvested into tourism. And so that’s why I got involved with the tourism coalition over 12 years ago. And during my time there, I have offered, volunteered to write and produce the commercials that we have for the County. But it’s also very important in this collaboration to be equitable and to try to show all the partners strengths in your 32nd commercial, that’s hard to do when you have a really big County, but it’s possible. You have to think about, I think about how does the Illinois office of showcase the entire state, or how does our convention and visitors Bureau showcase a five to seven County region.

Kathy Casstevens: 20:53 So you really want to show the jewel and the crown, obviously that’s the lead part and that is star Brock, but we also have to show the fun historical things to do, or maybe what’s to do when it’s raining. That’s a big one. How do you keep your family entertainment it’s raining? Or why would you want to come here? Show them that. So we recently teamed up with an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, Comcast effect, TV and LaSalle County tourism under the umbrella of a marketing partnership grant from the state of Illinois to produce a 32nd commercial about why people should come here. It was a two day shoot and it took a lot like 60 or 80 cups of coffee, a bunch of donuts, uh, you know, a script, a bunch of actors, a sound guy, a cinematographer. There were a lot of people involved, maybe 15 places that we involved visiting and so on.

Kathy Casstevens: 21:43 And so through this collaboration, now we have a really good piece of a good video commercial. We have that, which we can use on Facebook and place on, on TV if we want, or OTT like Hulu and things like that. But the other thing you accumulate when you do this is what’s called the roll and B stands for backup backup role. And so we have footage to use to make a future commercial. And that’s wonderful because we could then go produce something without having to organize this whole team to go out and shoot again. So if you’re going to produce a commercial think big and think long term, so that you get the most for your money while you have the crew there. So we produced this commercial that I’d love to share with you. It just got approved recently and it’s, it’s really fun. And I love it. Very proud of it.

Nicole Mahoney: 22:28 Oh, that would be awesome. Actually, if you can give me a link to that, we can include it in your show notes for this, uh, for this episode and our listeners can go right there and get the link and watch it. That’d be awesome.

Kathy Casstevens: 22:39 Yes. It’s probably the best example of collaboration that I’ve seen in my time here.

Nicole Mahoney: 22:45 That’s fantastic. So in that collaboration, um, or others that you may have been involved with, are there some best practices or some things that really make collaborations, you know, successful that you can offer some advice maybe to our listeners?

Kathy Casstevens: 23:01 I think it’s that word that you climbed, you know, where you’re, you’re not competition, you’re cooperating for the good of the cause. And so as a County, we placed a two full facing page ad in the Illinois office of tourism travel magazine. And through that, we were, I in our CBB director were invited to New York city to explain to the editors of Midwest living and 20 other publications that Meredith does, why they should come here to do a story. And they believed us when we told them it was worth visiting. They came and then we got a story in Midwest living as a result of that. And if that isn’t the perfect example of taking collaboration to a higher level, I don’t know what is, so they came here and then we had a feature story in Midwest, and then you’ll see the analytics on the backend of your website com showcase the people that got that magazine from out of state. Now with COVID-19 people aren’t traveling as much from state to state. So you have to shift your focus to more of a staycation mentality where you don’t have to travel far. You can stay within your state, but have a great experience. And so now we’ve shifted our message. And I guess flexibility is the other part of, of cooperation that you have to be able to bend and morph to get the message out there and get some return on investment.

Nicole Mahoney: 24:17 Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. So can you, can you talk a little bit more about how you are shifting more to that, uh, staycation messaging or, you know, that focus more on, um, I’m assuming more on folks that live within Illinois within your state. What are some of the things that you’re doing to help entice them to, to come in and check it out?

Kathy Casstevens: 24:39 Well, we stayed, we changed our whole message to why wait for the weekend. So that helped right there to boost midweek travel because our weekends were overcrowded and the park was closing because it was at capacity. So that was one. And then when you talk about a staycation and having a great experience close to home, or in your own backyard, that’s another Avenue from which you can approach wanting to, you know, getting people to come here. But the thing that I’m working on right now is suggested cinerary I really like this when I go somewhere that I’ve never been. And where, how should I spend my morning? So yesterday I went to this amazing sunflower field that we have here that only blooms at this time in July. And, uh, Sunday night, I photographed a surprise proposal there. So I got to see the sunflowers at six 30 at night. And then the other day I got to see them at nine in the morning. Well, they’re way better at nine in the morning cause they face East. So then I did a suggested itinerary. How about a sunflower sleepover midweek? You leave work about three, four in the afternoon, check in, go for a quick little hikes. And the next morning you get up and go very early to the sunflower field and take your photos, do a little hiking around the park and head home. It’s a midweek refreshing rejuvenating way. They have a little staycation.

Nicole Mahoney: 25:57 That’s such a great idea to really kind of suggest that midweek get away. I mean, I love the whole idea of the itinerary, but I know so many, so many of us right now, especially, you know, through this period of time and because of COVID are not planning those vacations necessarily. And so maybe we aren’t really thinking about, Oh, I can actually take a few days off from work and get a break from being,

Kathy Casstevens: 26:22 Oh yeah. I mean, if you have to work from home or you can work remotely from anywhere you have, it’s all about the timing and the scheduling. So you finish your work for the day at three in the afternoon. Let’s just say, if you can finish at three and most everybody who comes here lives about within two hours away. So you get here at five o’clock. You go for a hike that I posted the other, I showed you how it

Nicole Mahoney: 26:44 Only takes 30 minutes. Then you come back, have dinner, relax, go in the pool already. You’ve enhanced your life just before you even go to bed. Then I suggested getting up and photographing the sunrise. When was the last time that you got up or something miraculous like that? I mean, getting up early and taking a shower to go to work in your home is very difficult day after day. But when you get up here and smell the fresh air here and see the sun come up, we took Abe Lincoln out there a couple of weeks ago and we did our commercial. It was phenomenal. And then after that, you go over to this amazing display of sunflowers and you just feel recharged and then you have a good breakfast and you could end your day there. You could just do some work here at the lodge. We have wifi free wifi and, you know, get a couple hours of work in, go for a hike and then go home. So it’s, um, it’s all about making the most of every minute that you have and not underestimating that, that span of time from three to 8:00 PM because a lot can happen in that time. Absolutely. As a traveler. I know, I think that’s really, really fantastic advice. And you’re making me now want to take a midweek break as well.

Nicole Mahoney: 28:00 Yeah. This has been a really great conversation. I just have one more question that I wanted to talk about. It’s kind of a followup to what we’re talking about right now, which is, you know, looking more inwardly because of the time that we’re in. But I actually think that as destination marketers, that was starting to happen anyway, because I think it was, you know, more so than just looking at those visitors, coming into your community, but also engaging with your community members and getting them excited about the place where they live. And so I’m curious if you are seeing any of that, where you are, where yourself or the tourism offices might be more engaging with with the locals and getting them excited about where they live. Yeah. It’s um, it’s difficult here because so many people come here on the weekend that people who live here locally say, we’re not going, it’s too crowded, but I’ve tried to emphasize that you don’t have to go at 10:00 AM.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:08 That’s when it gets really crowded. There’s nothing like a late afternoon hike don’t even leave your house till four or five in the afternoon. Everything changes at that time of day. We’re usually we have plenty of parking by then. We don’t have an abundance, but we have enough. And the, and the main crowds have gone home. Now they’ve had lunch, they’ve left. So like I said, that’s 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Sweet spot of your day is just often underutilized for travelers. And I just think you need to either be there at the crack of Dawn when it opens or look at the other low times during the day to get the most out of your visit somewhere. Yeah. I think that’s, that’s really insightful and I couldn’t agree more and I love how you call it the sweet spot. That three to 8:00 PM really gives us something to think about.

Nicole Mahoney: 29:53 Yeah. It could make your state memorable instead of just blah, you know? So when you get there, when you get to your destination, you want to have something planned. That’s really quite extraordinary, you know, do something fun at four in the afternoon. When was the last time you did that? That’s right. I love it. That’s fantastic. So, Cathy, do you have any final thoughts or final words that you’d like to share with our listeners? I guess the one thing I would share is don’t be afraid of being on camera yourself because people like hearing a real person say it from their point of view. And even if, when you’re recording yourself, you stumble, go ahead. So what everybody makes mistakes, just try to communicate the passion that you have for whatever it is you’re selling. And I think you’ll be a success. Summit is a great way to, uh, to wrap up, communicate the passion that you have.

Nicole Mahoney: 30:45 And that’s a key to success for, for sure. And I can hear it in your voice. And I know our listeners are hearing it from you as well. And I’m so thankful that you’ve taken some time out to share all of this information with us. You gave us a lot to think about, and I love that you gave us some very specific tactical things that listeners can do to help market the destinations or the, or the businesses where they work. So I appreciate you being so open and sharing so much. Well thank you for inviting me to be a part of your show. Thank you, Kathy. And we’ll look forward to connecting with you again. It sounds great. And Cole, thank you. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of this week’s episode. This gives me a chance to ask you for a favor.

Nicole Mahoney: 31:27 We have a goal to reach 100 ratings and reviews on our podcast. By the end of 2020, we are already well on our way to meeting this goal, but need your help. I love sharing my interviews with you, and if you enjoy them too, I would a greatly appreciate you giving us a rating and review click the iTunes or Stitcher link on destination on the or leave one right in your favorite app where you listen most often, it only takes a minute and your support means a lot. It’s time to hit the road again, visit destination during your travels for more

Speaker 4: 32:02 Casts, show notes and fresh ideas.

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