NEARLY 70 PARTICIPANTS ATTEND THE FIRST SEEC PROSPERITY FORUM: “LODGING POSSIBILITIES”
Next Steps to Include a Free “Packaging Workshop” on March 18, As a Way to Foster Collaboration Among Local Tourism Businesses and Schoharie County Lodging Survey, Distributed in Late February
Second Prosperity Forum, “Downtown Development,” To be Held April 3 in the Village of Cobleskill
* Links to Access Photos & Video from Lodging Forum Provided Below *
COBLESKILL, NY (MARCH 3, 2020) – Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation (SEEC) kicked off the new year by hosting its first Prosperity Forum on the topic of “Lodging Possibilities,” with an audience of nearly 70 individuals, all eager to talk about improving lodging and tourism as a way to drive economic development in Schoharie County. The Forum was co-hosted by Schoharie County Government, Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce and Destination Marketing Corporation (Schoharie County’s Tourism Promotion Agency), with SEEC’s Executive Director, Julie Pacatte, serving as emcee for the program. The Lodging Possibilities Forum was hosted in the Village of Sharon Springs at the award-winning American Hotel, a highly regarded lodging facility and restaurant which is celebrating two decades of success offering boutique-style accommodations in the heart of downtown Sharon Springs.
“We knew we had hit a nerve when we saw the attendance nearly double our expectations,” said Pacatte. “It was ‘standing room only’ at The American, which really spoke to the importance of the topic and the community’s enthusiasm to address it head-on,” she added.
The overall goals for the event were to gather insight on how to improve the quality of local lodging, increase the quantity of quality accommodations and to how to begin shaping the brand for Schoharie County guest experiences. Valuable feedback was garnered from those in attendance, with Pacatte identifying prominent themes that seemed to rise to the top, including the importance of collaboration and communication between businesses – access to capital – and the need for meaningful data to attract new investment for expanding lodging opportunities and facility upgrades.
“We are so thankful that the Lodging Forum conversation organically led us to these areas of importance,” said Pacatte. “We want those in attendance to know that we value their feedback – that we heard them – and that we want to continue the momentum of that day by moving their ideas forward in a tangible way,” she said.
So what’s next? First, the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce is teaming with Destination Marketing Corporation (DMC) to roll out a free Packaging Workshop on Wednesday, March 18 from 8:30 am – 12:00 pm at SUNY Cobleskill, to help foster collaboration among local tourism businesses throughout the county.
Erynne Ansel-McCabe, Travel Trade Manager for DMC, explained “packaging” as a way for hoteliers to add value to guests’ overnight stay by bundling amenities, services, experiences and products from other local businesses. “Today’s travelers are on-the-go, tech-savvy people who are used to having information available with the click of a button,” said Ansel-McCabe. “Packaging really simplifies the booking and itinerary-planning process for travelers by creating a one-stop-shop option. They can just use their credit card on file, to book a trip that they didn’t have to spend a lot of time researching,” she added. Local businesses that focus on tourism-related industries like lodging, attractions/experiences and dining are encouraged to attend the workshop. After hearing a presentation from DMC about the value of packaging, participants will have the chance to meet with every business represented, in the style of “Speed-Dating” appointments. The Schoharie County Chamber will provide coffee and pastries from The Brick House Bakery of Cobleskill.
The Packaging Workshop will be free to attend, but you must pre-register by Wednesday, March 11. Those interested in attending can register on the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce website at https://schohariechamber.wildapricot.org/event-3760325. Please call the Chamber (518) 295-8824 or the DMC Tourism offices (800) 418-4748 with any questions.
Another actionable item to come out of the Lodging Forum was the desire to collect meaningful data. SEEC and DMC have already started that process with the distribution of a local lodging ownership survey sent out in February. “This will be a great way to check in with local hoteliers, learn about their guests’ travel patterns and identify ways that additional resources and promotional programs may enhance their business offerings so they can better meet the needs of today’s travelers,” said Cassandra Harrington, Executive Director for DMC. Future data collection about Schoharie County will be gathered with the goal of courting outside investors and hoteliers to choose the area, with Harrington noting, “When you have thorough and meaningful data, it creates confidence for investors and helps them to make decisions about viable markets for development.”
Longer term initiatives will be developed from the feedback that Forum attendees provided, raising issues like workforce, transportation and infrastructure.
On the heels of a very successful first Prosperity Forum, SEEC is already diving into planning the next Forum in the series. The “Downtown Development” Prosperity Forum is slated for Friday, April 3 from 9:00 am – noon in the Village of Cobleskill (venue to be announced at a later date).
SEEC Advisory Council Members Kevin Neary (Mayor of Richmondville, NY) and Anne Morton (former Mayor, Honeoye Falls, NY) are taking the lead on planning the “Downtown Development” Forum and say that the theme for the day will be “placemaking,” defined as a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. “We will discuss important topics like infrastructure and regulatory requirements, but we’ll also be asking those in attendance to think about what kind of public space they want to create and what they can do to make it a reality,” said Neary. They anticipate the audience for the day to include community members, county-wide municipal representation and retail business owners from around Schoharie County. “We see our role as facilitating the conversation about downtown development, but we also want to give those in attendance specifics steps they can take so they feel like they have the right tools to get started,” added Morton.
The agenda for the day will include presentations from Charles Philion (Program Director, New York State Homes and Community Renewal) and Christopher Round (Vice President of The Chazen Companies). Additionally, SEEC is planning to present case studies detailing steps that other municipalities took to successfully revitalize their own downtown areas. The Forum will conclude with a networking session so that those in attendance can follow up with specific questions, exchange contact information and plan their next steps.
The third installment of the Prosperity Forum Series, planned for later this year, will address the topics of “Innovation, Invention and Technology.”
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SHAREABLE VIDEO FROM SEEC LODGING FORUM (TRT 4:00):
You Tube (share on social media) – https://youtu.be/JENu-h6DKa8
Vimeo (download) – https://vimeo.com/394263864
STILL PHOTOS FROM SEEC LODGING FORUM (Photo Credit, SEEC):
Established by the private sector, Schoharie Economic Enterprise Corporation, commonly known as “SEEC,” was organized as a not-for-profit to strengthen Schoharie County by fostering economic growth. SEEC serves as a liaison to local municipalities and institutional leaders with the common goal of highlighting distinctive points of light within the community, cultivating entrepreneurial endeavors and enhancing the ability of local businesses to add value to their enterprises. SEEC is guided by social, environmental and financial principles that will accelerate growth and help provide sustainability through a collaborative and thriving business community.
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Julie Pacatte Trisha Miller
Executive Director, SEEC Publicist, SEEC
(518) 517-1700 (917) 848-5787