I'm a freelance internet marketing consultant in rural Northeast Texas.

Most of us are here because we love it. Not because we want to pave the whole place over and make billions of dollars.

Interests: Chambers of Commerce, Economic and Community Development Corporations, Main Street projects, agri-tourism and any other attractions. What are other communities doing to bring dollars to their small towns? What's working and not working?

If the headline says "Project:" it's something I worked on. Otherwise I'm just sharing something I think is cool, inspiring or maybe weird. Please share, comment and become part of the conversation. ^There are "tags" up here that you can click on, directing you to topics. However, if servers are overloaded, they may not show up.

Posts I Like
Posts tagged "tourism"

Last night, our local Chamber of Commerce held our annual banquet and gave out a new award: Destination Van Alstyne. 

The three nominees are all businesses that any town would covet — a quilt shop and retreat (The Alford Inn), a high-end designer antique store (Summit Mercantile) and a restaurant/B&B (The Durning House). The latter two I am proud to say are clients. 

All three truly are winners for making the town a “Destination” for a diverse clientele. After all, people don’t come all the way up here just to go to Wal-Mart or TGI Fridays (we have neither, anyway). 

All the nominees have novel business models, and all three are owned by women. Then I got to thinking… our Mayor, our Chamber president and our College Dean are all women. 

Small-town women have the resourcefulness and creativity to deliver what consumers want — to spend their money locally and on the unique and different. We literally put small towns on the map.

Women are great at networking and supporting each other but we need banks and local governments to support us.  

We are scrappy and hard workers. How can we take it to the next level?

Good old-timey fun for the family, and the fireworks show will be -amazing-! 

Whitewright Tractor Pulls going on now!

The New York Daily News provides some insight into the economic benefits of legal same-sex weddings:

  • Same-sex weddings will generate an estimated $184 million for New York State and $142 million for New York City (the report is not specific about the time frame, but bases the numbers on 56,000 out of town couples coming to New York City to wed).
  • In Massachusetts, as of 2008, gay and lesbian weddings had generated $110 million in economic activity for the state. The typical same-sex couple spent roughly $7,400 on their wedding, with one in 10 couples spending more than $20,000.

Imagine if Texas right now recognized same-sex unions — the only state in the South to do so. The tax revenues would help put teachers back in the classroom, and our great state would be known for being on the cutting edge of civil rights.  

I can imagine that Texas couples and their guests would spend as much, if not more, than people back East. There are plenty of beautiful venues in rural Texas, not just in the Hill Country, but around our own wineries and lakes right here in Grayson County.

Texas is working to recruit talent, businesses and young families just as much as any company is. And I can tell you that our reputation could be better.

Real world example:  Recently, I heard an executive at one of Dallas’ largest companies tell a gathering of GLBT employees and straight allies that supporting workplace equality and providing health insurance to same-sex partners helps recruit top talent, because today’s young people simply don’t want to be part of a company that discriminates. 

I realize that our constitutional amendment banning gay marriage will probably hold on until it’s stripped away by the courts, something that will probably take years. 

When my generation grew up, there were virtually no openly gay or lesbian elected officials, high-profile business people, or even fictional television characters. There were no “Beekman Boys” on national television, two gay men in a decade-long relationship running a rural business together. All of my gay and lesbian friends and relatives hid who they were until they were out of college, if not longer.  

Mine is the last generation in which gay and lesbian people were made to feel invisible. I believe that today’s gay and lesbian teens will be the last to be denied the choice to marry or not to marry.  

Whether some people like it or not, gay marriage is coming to Texas.  The economic benefits of allowing it sooner rather than later are easily measurable, but the benefits to human dignity are not.

Today both of my passions overlap: Lobbying for fair and reasonable dog laws and rural economic development and tourism. I have mentioned before how impressed I am with Oklahoma’s tourism marketing efforts. Well, now Sen. Ralph Shortey, in the Oklahoma legislature, has decided to introduce SB 362, which would allow local governments to regulate specific breeds of dogs. 

Right now, Oklahoma and Texas allow cities and counties to pass dog laws more stringent than the states’, provided they apply to all dog breeds equally. 

Non-dog people are probably wondering, “What’s the big deal?”  

It’s a big deal because people who vacation with dogs and attend dog events spend money, especially in rural Texas and Oklahoma. Laws targeting “pit bulls” and Rottweilers drive away large multi-breed events, because these shows can’t exclude some of their patrons.  

People with dogs resembling the banned breeds — for example, a Lacey Game Dog attending a hunting trial — will not take the risk of having their working dogs seized. Feral hogs cause massive amounts of economic and habitat damage, and hunting them is big business. Yet, many dogs used in hog hunting are bulldog-breeds or mixes, which often end up on the banned lists. 

See The Economic Benefits of AKC Dog Shows. The AKC represents a fraction of the spending by travelers and groups that put on dog shows, flyball, agility, disc, dock diving, hunting trials and other events every weekend in Texas and Oklahoma.

States should be courting dog owners, hunters and events, not driving them away with unpredictable and unfair legislation.

Another interesting example of niche tourism marketing ideally suited to rural areas. I discovered this through the Oklahoma Agritourism Facebook page.

This is in the UK, but there is no reason why it would not work here. People can tour the farm, there is a place for classes and meetings, a cafe, gift shop and meat market! Beautiful website, too.

I’ve been following Planet Green’s ”The Fabulous Beekman Boys,” (read the book, follow facebook page, and watch the Goat Cam). Granted, most towns don’t play host to reality shows, but it’s been interesting to see a community similar to mine struggle with harvest festivals and dilapidated buildings. And although reality shows are few, nabbing a film or television location is not out of reach for North Texas towns (a topic I hope to explore further). 

Go Sharon Springs! If you’ve never seen the show, set your DVR and check out this charming town.

One way to court tourism — make a special effort to reach out to niches. These examples are in cities but rural areas can appeal to people who travel with their dogs, with parks, pet-friendly campgrounds, and kennels where people can board their dogs while on extended outings.

Avoid passing laws (for example, regulating specific dog breeds, no dogs in parks) that are overly invasive and restrictive for pet owners. It doesn’t take long for a pet-unfriendly reputation to spread on the Internet, driving away tourist dollars.

One of my projects was funded in part by this program. It’s done great work to raise brand awareness but I am afraid the state is going to cut it pretty severely, since Texas is facing a huge budget shortfall in 2011.