The hospitality industry benefits from many “lifers” who have worked in it for most of their careers, but sometimes it’s new blood that gives innovation oxygen.
Edward Harris, who assumed the head marketing role at the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board three years ago, has leveraged his marketing background in digital powerhouses such as eBay to propel the CVB representing Pennsylvania’s Montgomery County into the 21st century through first-in-class e-media campaigns.
“The tech pieces have always been part of the companies I’ve worked at, and now I’m trying to do that in tourism,” Harris said. “We want to make sure we’re showing off our assets in a way that’s on the terms of the people who want to visit here, in the most modern way possible.”
Successes have included a 2015 partnership with Google using its Street View technology to launch 360-degree virtual tours, resulting in the innovative Montco360.net; a 2016 focus on app development, culminating in the Valley Forge Sports Playbook, targeting sports groups; and a 2017 effort that will leverage Snapchat’s Spectacles eyewear video technology.
Probably the most ingenious social media phenomenon tapped by the CVB was riding the 2016 Pokemon GO craze.
“We jumped on that within a week of that catching on fire and launched PokeMontco,” Harris said, “which drove record summer traffic to ValleyForge.org.”
It’s a new world of CVB marketing, and being first is the whole ballgame.
“It’s fun being a first-mover, when you can jump on a new technology and use it to broadcast your unique story in a new way, and we’re going to continue to leverage this new technology when it comes out,” Harris said, adding that virtual reality is the next frontier. “We’re very nimble and jump on trends and deliver campaigns really quickly because of the way we’re set up.”