Thursday, May 16, 2013

Regional magazine with a focus on tourism and economic development by John Dersham

Last Friday night Randy and Olivia Grider hosted a wonderful introduction party at Cook Castle of their new regional magazine called Lookout Alabama Magazine. It is a lifestyles magazine that will feature the beauty and culture of our area. The magazine will highlight the region’s people, history and natural beauty as well as the many cultural, educational, outdoor-adventure, dining, shopping and child-friendly attractions that make this beautiful corner of Alabama an ideal vacation and retirement destination as well as business location.
It will feature Lookout Mountain and surrounding communities and towns throughout Northeast Alabama, Northwest Georgia and the Lookout Mountain area of Tennessee. The quarterly magazine will offer a full size 9.25x11format with excellent print quality. The publication will target business and industry with above average income readers. It will be directed toward potential visitors that are most likely to come to our area for a vacation or long weekend. Distribution of the magazine is in a 250 mile radius. The magazine’s business template and demographics should attract economic development interest in our area and provide increased tax revenue through tourism. This publication should play another important role in our growth and development. The first issue comes out in June.

Last Friday evening’s event introduced the new publication in a big way. Bestselling author Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys and 13 other books) was a featured speaker at the introduction ceremony. Senator Clay Scofield, co chair of the Alabama Tourism Committee spoke about tourism in our state and the very important role it plays in the growth of our economy. He awarded Natalie Cone a first place award in the Literary Tourism writing competition hosted by the new magazine. Congratulations Natalie! Lookout Alabama Magazine promises to feature fiction tourism writing on a regular basis.  There was a host of other speakers beginning with a dinner prayer from Fort Payne Mayor, Larry Chesser. After dinner Senator Scofield spoke, then Homer Hickam, then I spoke about tourism in DeKalb County with an update on our numbers. Director of Tourism in Greater Gadsden-Etowah Tourism, Hugh Stump spoke about his area and Anne Shumaker did the same for Cherokee County. Carol Beddingfield, our Fort Payne Chamber Director spoke about the chamber and the close working relationship between the Chamber, Economic Development and Tourism here in DeKalb County. Lastly, Nisa Miranda of the University of Alabama University Center for Economic Development gave a wonderful presentation about working together as a region to develop a long term partnership that would help develop an appealing regional identity for our area that would generate a larger audience for tourism and economic development all throughout our area.
A special thanks to our host Randy and Olivia Grider who introduced our speakers and gave us a wonderful night of insight to the new magazine. Music was provided by B Sharp. They were great and the food from Nessa’s was wonderful.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tourism Partners By John Dersham

There are a number of different organizations that help DeKalb Tourism promote tourism in our area. The state of Alabama Department of Travel and Tourism promotes us along with all 67 Alabama Counties, Southeast Tourism Society promotes us along with each of the other 11 states in its 12 state coverage area and then there is North Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association whom promotes tourism for all 16 north Alabama counties. DeKalb Tourism only promotes DeKalb County.  This allows us to get into greater detail about each attraction, lodging facility, museum, gift shop, antique store, festival, fair, retail and restaurant. We include all items of interest to a potential tourist in our travel guide, our website, mobile website, at trade shows, in public speaking engagements and in press releases and general advertising. As the size of the organization increases the fewer things about us are promoted since they have to include everyone else’s areas too. While our information center is the source for all things to do and see in DeKalb County the other organizations include highlights about us usually consisting of a calendar of events that includes our festivals, and major events at our public lands or major area attractions like our State Parks and our National Preserve. All of these organizations play a major role in getting the word out about us. This is because their advertising circle includes a larger geographic area. For example our ads target areas like Huntsville, Nashville, Birmingham, Atlanta and some coastal areas. The larger organizations like Southeast Tourism Society are delivering our messages across 12 states. Each one of these organizations reaches a new set of potential visitors to our area. In theory you would think it was duplication but that is not the case at all. Each of these organizations plays an instrumental role in delivering our message to a different group of potential customers. We are very fortunate here in DeKalb to have this network of promotion going on day in and day out 365 days a year all helping to tell the visitor who we are and where we are located and what we have to offer that would make us a fun and rewarding vacation.
 Tourism partners work closely together to improve the big picture. The big picture is helping all tourism organizations grow.  My many thanks to all of these outstanding organizations.