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Technology, Tradition and Reinvestment Drive Valley Forge, Pennsylvania's Rebound
Valley Forge National Historical Park. Courtesy of VFTCB
In this Q&A, Scott Higgins, director of sales at the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB), reveals how tradition, technology, reinvestment and other factors are driving the strong rebound in Valley Forge and Montgomery County.
Meetings Today: The 1777-1778 winter encampment is a perpetual reference point for the resiliency of Valley Forge. How has this innate fighting spirit helped see the destination through the pandemic?
Scott Higgins: We have always said that leaders were made in Valley Forge. After navigating the past two years, we are confident that even more front runners have emerged from the influences of COVID-19.
Early on, our hospitality community recognized that we needed to come together to weather the impacts of the pandemic. Corporations helped support frontline workers with donated meals, our distilleries changed their business plans to start producing hand sanitizer, and we focused on promoting from within more than ever. Through these examples, and many more, our community members remained strong, and is now ready as groups come back.
What are the VFTCB's strategic outlook and priorities for 2022?
Higgins: We remain cautiously optimistic that meetings and events will continue to return in 2022. Our industry has learned so much over the past two years, including how to safely host meetings. That is the impetus behind the launch of our largest meetings campaign ever, which has “Rethink Revolutionary” as a key part of the first phase messaging and features a unique mix of digital and print media among other elements in development.
We are also introducing new initiatives that offer groups as much as $10 per contracted room night. We believe groups want to meet again, as the virtual environment cannot replicate the impact of meeting in person.
How are you leveraging technology to attract groups?
Higgins: Technology plays a major role in everything we do. As everyone is doing more with less, we are finding creative ways to simplify the planning and executing experience within Valley Forge.
Featuring newly added content, our interactive virtual tour platform Montco 360 allows planners to explore even more meeting space layouts and other environments from the comfort of home, saving them time and funds. These tours also help to familiarize attendees with venues prior to arrival. Our free Visit Valley Forge app extends exclusive group discounts at some of our most popular restaurants, nightlife venues and activities.
What makes Valley Forge's diverse product set a competitive advantage in good times and bad?
Higgins: Our traditional broad-based group appeal has only been amplified as we navigate through COVID-19. Our destination offers 80-plus hotels at a range of price points, while planners can easily fill off-agenda itineraries with traditional or custom options specific to their needs.
Military groups, for one, have Valley Forge National Historical Park. Corporate and association groups have their choice of 50-plus golf courses. Large-scale programs have versatile venues such as the 240,000-square-foot Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Plus, planning advantages such as convenient drive-to access and complimentary parking.
Any major investments to share?
Higgins: Over 40% of our hotel inventory has recently been renovated or is new as of last year. Crowne Plaza King of Prussia and Alloy King of Prussia—a Doubletree Hotel were among properties that underwent transformative multi-million-dollar renovations. New properties include the Residence Inn Bala Cynwyd and Element Valley Forge. We are excited for returning groups to discover major differences in the quality of our hospitality industry.
Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board