Realizing that missions often overlap and efforts benefit one another, three local organizations have created a new campaign, "Advantage Adams" - a collaborative effort to help existing businesses grow and plant seeds for new businesses to be established in the county.
Destination Gettysburg - the official destination marketing organization of Adams County, has joined with the Adams County Economic Development Corporation (ACEDC) and the Gettysburg-Adams Chamber of Commerce as part of the first collaborative marketing campaign to create awareness of Adams County outside the community and connect the resources of the three organizations with businesses looking to grow.
"Bringing in new businesses and new product is certainly a boost to tourism," said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. "The more successful that business is in Adams County, the greater that tourism will benefit through new experiences for our visitors."
The campaign stemmed out of a recently formed partnership between the three organizations and the Adams County Planning Office, Adams County Commissioners and the Gettysburg campus of Harrisburg Area Community College.
"This partnership is a unique opportunity for all of these community partners to work together to support our business community, and it's important for the future of economic development in the county," said Sherri Clayton, Director of the Adams County Planning Office. "We all want the same thing - communities where everyone can live, work and play. We are excited about this marketing opportunity and believe it can serve as a catalyst to help us achieve that ultimate goal."
Last year in Adams County, Pa., the percentage of day trips took a significant hit meaning only one thing ... the percentage of overnight stays by travelers spiked, especially for multi-night visits.
A recent report of visitor surveys compiled by the California University of Pennsylvania's Tourism Research Center, which has been analyzing data about Adams County's visitors for the past 10 years, showed that the percentage of two-, three- and more than three-night stays nearly doubled in each category.
"Attracting visitors to stay multiple nights is clearly a benefit to everyone - lodging facilities, restaurants, retailers and attractions," said Destination Gettysburg President Norris Flowers. "It's also a significant benefit to the local community that sees additional tax revenue, visitor spending and jobs supported by longer stays."
Lengthening the say among visitors was identified in 2014 - as part of Destination Gettysburg's five-year strategic plan - as a top goal coming out of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 2013. Research showed that if visitors understood the depth of the destination and the numerous experiences that Adams County offered, they would be more apt to schedule more time in our community.
Since then, Destination Gettysburg has shifted its marketing to highlight the variety of experiences that many travelers and potential travelers are not aware of, including recreation, culinary, shopping and cultural events.
Of those visitors surveyed who indicated they stayed at least one night in Adams County, 67 percent said they stayed in a hotel/motel, 15 percent said they stayed at a campground, 9 percent said they stayed at a bed and breakfast and 4 percent indicated they stayed with friends or relatives.
In 2016, lodging revenue neared $50 million in Adams County, according to tax reports from the Adams County Treasurer's Office.
Destination Gettysburg recently returned from IPW – the largest international travel trade show in the United States. Every year, the sales and media relations staff at Destination Gettysburg attend this event to sit face-to-face with dozens of foreign tour operators and international journalists.
This year, collectively, Destination Gettysburg – Group Sales Manager Nicole Absher and Director of Communications Carl Whitehill – met with more than 70 international representatives interested in creating partnerships for future business as well as crafting articles and broadcasts around the world.
The majority of tour operator appointments focused on the German, Canadian and French markets as well as a few Asian companies to discuss possible new business. Common discussion topics included new experiences for existing travelers and travel groups, visitors who have traveled to the United States but not beyond New York or Washington, as well as more local, authentic experiences. Overall, however, the majority of appointments included ideas about interactive history and agricultural experiences.
In addition to attending IPW in Washington, DC, Destination Gettysburg also hosted numerous operators and travel media both before and after IPW as part of FAM tours.
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A year may not seem like much, but when it comes to lowering the age of a destination’s visitor base, it’s a significant move of the needle.
A recent report of visitor surveys compiled by the California University of Pennsylvania’s Tourism Research Center – which has been analyzing data about Adams County’s visitors for the past 10 years, showed that the average age of those visitors surveyed dropped to 52. This represents a small but promising drop from 2015.
Lowering the average age of Adams County was identified in 2014 – as part of Destination Gettysburg’s five-year strategic plan – as a top goal coming out of the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 2013.
“For several years since the strategic plan, the age of our visitors remained steady at 53, indicating that the age had at least leveled off and that if our marketing efforts continued, that number would soon drop,” said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg.
In order to meet this long-term goal, in 2014, Destination Gettysburg announced a shift in its marketing to attract new and younger visitors to Adams County through a variety of experiences in recreation, culinary, shopping and other cultural events that weren’t as familiar to potential visitors as Gettysburg’s rich Civil War history.
California University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Susan Ryan who annually leads her students in the tourism study indicated that age is often a tough number to shift, due to its heavy central tendency, adding “given our history with the data, that one is hard to move statistically.”
The new Best Western Gettysburg Hotel opened last week after a year of construction along Steinwehr Avenue. This 81-room hotel features a third-floor breakfast room that overlooks the Gettysburg National Military Park, as well as an indoor pool, fitness room and business center.
"We are proud to be joining a brand that is such an icon in the hotel industry," said Paul Witt, owner of The Best Western Gettysburg Hotel. "I know guests will enjoy our modern and unique property and its ideal location bordering the Gettysburg National Military Park."
The Best Western Gettysburg Hotel is one of two hotels expected to open this year in the Gettysburg area. A Holiday Inn Express, located at The Outlet Shoppes at Gettysburg, is scheduled to open later this summer.
"Congratulations to the Witt family for this remarkable property," said Norris Flowers, President of Destination Gettysburg. "This hotel project is proof that the tourism industry is strong in Adams County, and this hotel will certainly be one that our visitors enjoy."
The Best Western Gettysburg Hotel is family owned and operated by the Witt family.
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