‘Reimag­in­ing’ the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence in Montco

The Community Connection - - NEWS - By Donna Rovins [email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

UP­PER MERION >> It was an­other sell-out for the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board as more than 600 guests turned out for the agency’s an­nual lun­cheon at the ren­o­vated Greater Philadel­phia Expo Cen­ter in Oaks.

The Oct. 26 lun­cheon was held at the Expo Cen­ter be­cause it is one of the re­main­ing places in the Mont­gomery County that can ac­com­mo­date the size of the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board’s event, ac­cord­ing to Ed Har­ris, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer.

Mem­ber­ship of the or­ga­ni­za­tion con­tin­ues to grow and now ap­proaches 600 — up 65 per­cent in three years.

Be­fore the lun­cheon of­fi­cially be­gan, guests got a “taste” of Mont­gomery County with net­work­ing and live mu­sic in a Montco Mak­ers-themed lounge that high­lighted the county’s lo­cal winer­ies, brew­eries and dis­til­leries. Montco Mak­ers is a group of more than 30 brew­eries, winer­ies and dis­til­leries in the county that are eas­ily nav­i­gated us­ing Mont­coMak­ers.com and its app.

The event’s “Reimag­ine” theme high­lighted the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board’s vi­sion to reimag­ine the vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence in Mont­gomery County. Dur­ing the af­ter­noon, guests heard about re­sults from the past year and got a look ahead at events planned for the com­ing year and be­yond.

Har­ris said in an in­ter­view Fri­day that the theme was cho­sen for sev­eral rea­sons.

“One of the main rea­sons is be­cause Mont­gomery County is go­ing through a re­nais­sance. There is an in­cred­i­ble amount of new de­vel­op­ment and rein­ter­pret­ing of old spa­ces right now, and an in­flux of cap­i­tal to all parts of the county,” he said. “Reimag­ine seemed to be a way to weave a thread across what’s hap­pen­ing in the busi­ness com­mu­nity and how peo­ple mar­ket busi­nesses and at­trac­tions.”

He stressed how the Expo Cen­ter had reimag­ined it­self to make the venue one that could suc­cess­fully ac­com­mo­date this sum­mer’s six-week run of Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA by mak­ing changes to a sec­tion of its park­ing lot to ac­com­mo­date the show.

Cirque du Soleil sold more than 75,000 tick­ets dur­ing its Mont­gomery County run this sum­mer, ac­cord­ing to Har­ris. While dates have not been fi­nal­ized, Cirque du Soleil will be re­turn­ing to the Expo Cen­ter, he said.

In the mean­time, the Big Ap­ple Cir­cus will bring its

acts to the Expo Cen­ter in May and June 2019, us­ing the out­door foot­print at the lo­ca­tion. Har­ris said talks to bring Big Ap­ple Cir­cus to Mont­gomery County started dur­ing the sum­mer.

The Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board took the op­por­tu­nity of its an­nual lun­cheon to out­line a new mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive — em­BARK Montco — say­ing it made sense to do it at the home of the Na­tional Dog Show, which will call the Expo Cen­ter home through 2022. The an­nounce­ment was made with the help of a cou­ple of ca­nine com­peti­tors from the show.

Of Mont­gomery County’s 75 ho­tels, more than 30 are pet-friendly, giv­ing res­i­dents and visi­tors the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore Mont­gomery County with­out leav­ing their pets be­hind. Em­BARK Montco of­fi­cially launched Oct. 26, and bill­boards will be go­ing up the week of Nov. 5, ac­cord­ing to Har­ris. Em­BARK Montco fea­tures ac­cess to cus­tom­iz­a­ble maps to find pet friendly ho­tels, restau­rants and parks.

“We’re in­ten­tion­ally launch­ing in Novem­ber be­cause the Na­tional Dog Show keeps com­ing back to Mont­gomery County ev­ery year,” Har­ris said. “What bet­ter tim­ing to launch the cam­paign.”

Har­ris out­lined an­other new Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board ini­tia­tive, slated to be­gin in 2019. Mont­coTV will be a new web­site ded­i­cated to video, and will de­but on Face­book Watch and In­sta­gram TV.

“It will fea­ture a wide range of tourism and travel re­lated videos — in­clud­ing at­trac­tions, in­ter­views with chefs and videos of area mas­cots. There will be some­thing for ev­ery­one and it will help us tell a broader story about what you can ex­pe­ri­ence here,” Har­ris said, adding the site will fo­cus on the things that make Mont­gomery County unique.

2019 will also fea­ture a per­for­mance at the Keswick The­atre by the Philadel­phia Orches­tra, sched­uled for March 21. A side-by-side re­hearsal with lo­cal stu­dents in the Abing­ton School District will take place dur­ing the day, fol­lowed by a com­mu­nity con­cert in the evening. Har­ris added that the orches­tra will be back for a large out­door con­cert in 2020.

“This is where the re­nais­sance is hap­pen­ing. There is more to do in sub­ur­ban Philadel­phia that didn’t ex­ist five or 10 years ago. There is a lot of de­vel­op­ment, and we are reimag­in­ing what our area can be. It’s ex­cit­ing, and there is more to come,” Har­ris added.

Ac­cord­ing to stat­ics pro­vided dur­ing the lun­cheon, tourism spend­ing in Mont­gomery County in 2017 reached $1.6 bil­lion and grew by more than 2.8 per­cent from the prior year. Tourism also sup­ported more than 4.1 per­cent of all jobs in the county, em­ploy­ing more than 20,000 peo­ple.

In ad­di­tion, the county still holds a 41 per­cent share of tourism spend­ing in the Philadel­phia sub­urbs at $3.8 bil­lion, a 2.8 per­cent in­crease over last year.

Among the guests were Penn­syl­va­nia At­tor­ney Gen­eral Josh Shapiro, the for­mer chair­man of the Mont­gomery County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers as well as Mont­gomery County Com­mis­sion­ers Va­lerie Arkoosh, Ken­neth Lawrence and Joseph Gale.

Key­note speaker was Jeff Fromm, a na­tion­ally known mil­len­nial and GenZ mar­keter. Fromm has worked with and helped reimag­ine a col­lec­tion of the world’s lead­ing brands, with more than 25 years of brand mar­ket­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the Val­ley Forge Tourism and Con­ven­tion Board visit www.val­ley­forge.org/

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.