How Instafamous Dogs Can Help DMOs, with Samantha Cole

Episode 314

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Samantha Cole is the Director of Public Relations at Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board. The Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that aggressively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 500-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions, and services.

On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Samantha Cole about some of the creative campaigns her destination is running right now, including using instafamous dogs, and we explore how marketing to niches helps the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board stand out.

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • How Samantha got her start in the travel and tourism industry and how it linked to her interest in digital marketing
  • Advice for aspiring or entry-level marketers
  • Why you should never be afraid to reach out to people on LinkedIn
  • Why making data-driven decisions is essential to the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board
  • Fun influencer marketing ideas that Samantha has leveraged
  • The award-winning Make it Main Street campaign and how this true backyard tourism campaign spotlights locally owned small businesses across the county
  • The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s partnership with Philadelphia and Chester County to brand themselves as the countryside of Philadelphia
  • Samantha talks about the upcoming February campaign focused on Valentine’s Day and romantic getaways.
  • The evolution of how DMOs work to serve the community in addition to attracting visitors

Building a Network Lays the Groundwork for Future Collaboration

How social media can support DMOs is an ever-changing landscape. Samantha explains how networking as an organization and as an individual helps you expand your reach and serve your clients. So many people are hesitant about reaching out to people and connecting with people on LinkedIn or other social media platforms but making those links is a great way to lay the foundation for future partnerships.

Communicating with Neighboring Organizations

Samantha shares her advice for our listeners thinking about entering into a collaboration or seeking a partner to collaborate with in 2023. Communication is critical in setting collaborations up for success — that includes going back to basics and reaching out to people locally who might even do the same job as you for a neighboring DMO. You could also prioritize building relationships by scheduling regular catch-ups with other local organizations and keeping them updated about your plans going forward.

Data-Driven Decisions

For Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board making data-driven decisions is top of mind right now. Samantha shares how her destination is leveraging geolocation data tracking to figure out how they can better serve their visitors’ needs by honing their target markets. She also shares why her proudest influencer hire to date is a Bernese mountain dog from Philadelphia and how that pupper is helping them showcase what Montgomery County has to offer.


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