Tourism

ROOST plans Olympic tie-ins

By: LOHR McKINSTRY

LAKE PLACID — This year’s Winter Olympic Games should help boost Lake Placid area tourism, says Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President James McKenna.

McKenna recently told the Essex County Board of Supervisors that a 9-by-12-foot LED TV, often called a Jumbotron, will be placed in the park in downtown Lake Placid to show NBC’s Olympics coverage Feb. 6 to 23 from Sochi, Russia.

“Spectators can watch the competition in Sochi every day,” ROOST Communications Director Kimberly Rielly said in an interview. “The Olympic Flame Cauldron will be next to it and lit every day. It’s a neat place to be during the competition.”

Lake Placid was home to both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics but so far hasn’t lured the games back for another run.

“We think all that continues to keep the connection with Essex County and the Olympic Games,” McKenna told supervisors.

HOPING FOR MORE SNOW

ROOST, a private, not-for-profit group formerly known as the Lake Placid-Essex County Visitors Bureau, has released its 2014 Essex County Strategic Sales and Marketing Plan, McKenna said.

The tourism agency gets more than $1 million annually from Essex County’s 3 percent lodging tax, to be used to advertise and promote the county to visitors.

McKenna said the ski season hasn’t cranked up to full speed yet around Lake Placid, but more snow would help.

“Looking at the winter season, we’re still waiting for the snow. It still is a little difficult. In metropolitan areas, where it’s wetter and warmer than here, people aren’t thinking winter sports.”

Once the Olympics begin, that may change, he said.

MARKETING GOALS

Most of the occupancy-tax money collected by Essex County is from Lake Placid, and most of it is spent to promote that area, something the market plan also reflects.

The plan has three program goals for Essex County: help Lake Placid become an 11-month tourism community, help “surrounding communities” become tourism destinations and attract private tourism investment and be an advocate for tourism issues.

The report says traditional print media forms of advertising have declined, and the Internet is now how people research and plan vacations.

“Our office has steadily seen an increase in the importance of web-based marketing to reach our target audience. In addition, new data continues to suggest that traditional channels of marketing will continue to decline since the Internet has grown to become the primary communications mechanism across the board.”

Social media marketing on Facebook and Google+ are growing, the report says.

DECIDING WHERE TO GO

Leisure travel marketing has five steps, according to Google’s travel industry branch: dreaming about a trip, researching it, booking it, having the experience, then sharing it via social media.

Google says that something it calls ZMOT — the Zero Moment of Truth — occurs when the decision is made during the research process.

ROOST says the websites they own are where most of that research is done.

McKenna said their main website, lakeplacid.com, had 1.2 million visits in 2013, up 33 percent over 2012.

“That’s a pretty dramatic increase,” Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said at the meeting. “It’s a pretty good indication our web coverage is good.”

The web lures used by ROOST include: keyword strategy, blogging, website content updates, press releases and video and photo updates.

The changes for 2014 are to bring more content, like blogging, search ranking campaigns and website management, in-house. ROOST has previously contracted out for many of those items.

ONLINE BOOKING

The agency will also try to expand use of its online booking engine and will offer more vacation packages to visitors. Ski and golf packages have been especially popular, the report says.

Efforts toward destination management will include a recreational plan for what ROOST calls “the five southern Adirondack towns:” Newcomb, Minerva, North Hudson, Long Lake and Indian Lake.

Long Lake and Indian Lake are in Hamilton County, where ROOST is taking over tourism promotion this year.

Mobile websites, specially written web pages intended for display on mobile devices like iPhones and iPads, will be utilized more this year, along with visitor services offices in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

ROOST says it will beef up support for regional visitor offices, like those at chambers of commerce.

Instead of printing brochures, ROOST has published a visitor handbook for its coverage area, but the agency will evaluate how many visitors take and use those books.

USING SOCIAL MEDIA

It will also print and distribute travel posters around the region that include smartphone-scannable codes that will take the user to a mobile website.

“Once people are here, it (the posters) will support their visitor experience,” Rielly said.

Social networks that allow visitors to post photos and reviews are also important to follow, the plan says.

“In 2014, our staff will continue to promote our quarterly subjects via social networks, in addition to garnering more friends, fans and followers. Each staff member will also play a greater role in promoting regional activities; sharing and plussing pages on the site.”

ROOST has set topics for each quarter, such as fishing, biking, hiking, skiing, and so on.

REVENUE PREDICTIONS

The agency’s 2014 revenue is predicted at $2.3 million, with $1.9 million of that from the Essex County bed tax, $93,000 in travel commissions and $70,000 in I Love New York matching funds. Smaller amounts are added from product sales and Internet programs.

The agency’s largest expense is in payroll, $850,000, with $230,000 in employee medical insurance and benefits, $173,000 in media advertising, $125,000 in Internet e-marketing and $122,000 in event coordination, for a total of $2.3 million spent.

And it’s money well used by ROOST, Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) told McKenna.

“I congratulate you,” Douglas said. “Your efforts are very noteworthy.”

Email Lohr McKinstry:lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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LOCAL CELEBRATIONS

A Complete List of Lake Placid Olympic Tie-In Events: http://www.lakeplacid.com/news/2013/12/celebrate-sochi-games-lake-placid

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