Business Wrap Up for Fall Foliage, 2005
For Immediate Release
Contact, Marti Mayne, 207-846-6331, email@example.com
MT WASHINGTON VALLEY FALL FOLIAGE WRAP UP
The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce conducted an informal survey of its membership to discover trends about business in the Valley during fall foliage. The majority of the businesses who responded were lodging properties, offering insight into lodging trends, but little information from other segments.
These surveys tend to be skewed toward the positive, as those with negative stories to tell, don't often respond. We heard mixed reports from those MWVCC members that responded to the survey, saying that fall foliage business was either slightly down from last year, on par with last year, or up over last year. Many respondents pointed to the increased gas prices, and rainy weather complicated by media reports leading travelers to believe that all of New Hampshire was under water. Nancy Russo, owner of The Artery Pottery Studio confirmed this contention saying "I spoke with some of my regular out of state customers, and they are all complaining about the price of gas. Even those that can afford the increase, are worried about winter fuel for home heating. It's all people are talking about. My customers come in and sit for at least an hour, so they get into conversations about this with me."
Two other conclusions were drawn:
- He who markets wins! Those businesses that were up over last year for fall foliage period attributed their success to increased marketing. Their increases came from a "larger web presence" through pay-per-click advertising or updated websites, creative packaging, or concentrated business outreach. Bob and Jackie Corrigan from the Wildberry Inn in Shelburne stated "Our room rentals were up 17.5% in September and October over last year's figures for the same period". They went on to explain that they had a greater web presence this year, and when combined with the value that travelers look for today, they did well during fall foliage. Greg Link, owner of Peace With-Inn attributed his double-digit increases for fall foliage 2005 over 2004 to increased internet marketing, public relations, creative packaging and recent improvements to the inn.
We've seen a trend toward marketing leading to success throughout the year in Mt. Washington Valley. It's no longer "open the door and they shall come". Businesses in the Valley not only compete with each other, but the Valley competes with other destinations seeking to lure travelers from New England. Florida, Napa Valley and Las Vegas are as big a competitor for the Valley as Stowe, Mystic, CT and other New England destinations. Slowly we're seeing a trend toward businesses seeking to stand above the fray with everything from personalized BLOGS (web based newsletters/websites) to direct mail, radio advertising, public relations and direct mail campaigns and more. Those businesses going the extra mile through creative marketing, packaging, Internet presence, along with an investment in improving their physical structure are the businesses reporting increases. This has been the trend throughout 2005.
- International tourism was strong throughout the fall foliage season in Mt. Washington Valley. Hilary Jones of the Admiral Peary House in Fryeburg, ME reported "Visits from international guests increased from last year with around 35% of total room nights during the last week in September/1st two weeks in October coming from the U.K.!" Similarly, Mary Ann, owner of the Mt. Washington B&B, concurred stating "Many more international visitors - Brits, Germans, Swiss, French - and many more Canadians (probably the exchange rate!)." Other innkeepers mentioned that they've never seen so many German visitors to the Valley. Respondents speculated that the positive exchange rate for Europeans contributed to their interest in visiting the United States. Noting that they had more visitors from the U.K. and less from Europe, Bob and Jackie Corrigan from the Wildberry Inn had this insight, "We attribute that marked difference in to the pound's strong showing against the dollar combined with the strong British-US political/Iraq war alliance. "
The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce's efforts to build the shoulder season between foliage and the holidays are reportedly having positive impact on tourism in Mt. Washington Valley. Where this time was traditionally a slow time for tourism, through the chamber and the Valley's retail community's efforts, Mt. Washington Valley has been well positioned as a shopping destination, drawing overnight visitors to the Valley. Lodging properties have reported increases in overnight visitors throughout November for the past two years, citing the chamber's Harvest to Holidays Promotion as a strong contributor to increased occupancies.
Overall, from the information gathered through surveys, it appears that Mt. Washington Valley businesses had a decent fall foliage period, but not record-breaking for most. Hurricanes, flooding, gas prices, and media reports that fall foliage colors were not stellar were tough obstacles for Mt. Washington Valley's tourism community.
The National Weather Prediction Center is calling for average snowfall this winter. That prediction bodes well for winter tourism. When combined with falling gas prices and recent accolades for North Conway as one of the Top 10 Ski Towns from Men's Journal, and among the top ski destinations in the country by editors of Orbitz, businesses can afford to be optimistic about the upcoming winter.