Valley Forge Tourism Board shares optimistic 2022 outlook with commissioners

UPPER MERION — Strategic, assured, daring, optimistic, aggressive — a couple of of the phrases Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board used to explain how the company views the hospitality business this yr.

Bowman shared the optimistic outlook throughout and replace by the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board’s senior management workforce on the Jan. 20 assembly of the Montgomery County Commissioners.

Jake Markezin, vice chairman of operations for the tourism board mentioned the group expects to proceed to rebound towards 2019 ranges by the top of the primary quarter of 2022.

“By the top of 2022, we must be at or exceed these spending ranges for leisure journey,” he mentioned.

Markezin defined that information exhibits that eight out of 10 people say they’re able to journey for leisure. He added that enterprise journey nonetheless has a “method to go.” He mentioned there are corporations touring, and smaller conferences are happening.

As a outcome, the company will concentrate on small company conferences in 2022, committing $250,000 to a advertising marketing campaign.

Building on Markezin’s feedback, Lisa Karl, vice chairman of gross sales & strategic partnerships reported that greater than $100 million in capital enhancements has been invested into county inns, which means 36% of stock has been renovated or newly opened.

Two extra inns are anticipated to open this yr, Karl mentioned, which can enhance the variety of out there lodge rooms in Montgomery County to 9,700 — twice as many as another suburban county within the area.

Karl added that Montgomery County captures 40% of the regional market share, producing and promoting probably the most lodge rooms within the Philadelphia suburbs — greater than 1.7 million, by November 2021.

Another space of development is predicted to be weddings, with 4,900 weddings anticipated within the county this yr — a 32% enhance over 2021 and a 15% enhance over 2019.

Justine Garbarino, affiliate vice chairman of promoting, reported that the tourism board will likely be increasing its advertising campaigns into new areas, together with New York and Virginia, and can make investments extra within the markets the place the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board already has a powerful presence.

She mentioned the behaviors and habits of potential guests are altering.

“That’s as a result of pandemic. We need to attain them by the brand new channels that they’re responding to most,” she mentioned.

The company will mix conventional media with movies and advertisements on streaming and audio apps to hyperlink again to the group’s redesigned website,

Over the previous yr, the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board partnered with Simpleview to revamp its web site. The mobile-friendly website was designed to incorporate digital advertising tendencies corresponding to horizontal scrolling, video optimization, and a transparent person interface.

“The Montco website is the latest website on the market. It is as enjoyable and distinctive because the county itself,” Garbarino mentioned. “The new website speaks to vacationers, residents, and journey planners in a complete new method.”

The board can also be partnering with Zartico for a primary within the area: utilizing geolocation information to trace customer motion all through Montgomery County — the place individuals are going, and the way they’re spending.

“I actually imagine that is the wave of the long run for Destination Marketing Organizations like ourselves,” Garbarino informed the commissioners.

Rachel Riley, affiliate vice chairman of communications, spoke about quite a few initiatives, together with a second Crave Montco Month in July, a Monty the Mascot refresh, member outreach and a year-round donation link for the Freedom from Hunger Food Drive.

Crave Montco, Riley mentioned, began as a method to help eating places that had been dealing with staffing and provide points final yr.

“It has turned in to what will likely be a staple occasion for our group. We know that the patron need to dine out is barely going to develop,” she mentioned.

The annual Freedom from Hunger Food Drive has been an annual custom since 2015 — amassing 75,000 kilos of meals since its inception — to learn the MontCo Anti-Hunger Network.

“In protecting with our dedication to combating starvation, we need to hold neighborhood high of thoughts for greater than a month or two, as a result of let’s face it, individuals are hungry yr spherical,” she mentioned.

Riley mentioned the donation hyperlink will likely be open yr spherical, including that the company will increase consciousness by promotion and tie-ins to different occasions. To make a donation, visit

Riley additionally introduced the growth of Arts Montco Week in September to incorporate a jazz competition.

She additionally spoke concerning the challenges of the county’s arts organizations, which have seen declining income throughout the pandemic.

“These teams are resilient, positive, and so they’re persevering, however how lengthy can we anticipate them to hold this burden alone?” Riley requested. “We’ve received to up the ante, and proceed to spend money on the humanities to lift consciousness, and drive extra foot visitors to Montco’s 200 venues.”

The commissioners mentioned they appreciated the knowledge shared by the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board workforce.

“This is a good instance of the angle we’ve got seen all throughout the county all through these robust previous couple of years,” mentioned Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, chairwoman of the commissioners. “It is a pulling collectively and determining learn how to hold issues shifting ahead on this county.”

Commissioner Kenneth Lawrence mentioned he believes the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is one of the best customer’s bureau in Pennsylvania, and “probably the nation as effectively.”

Commissioner Joe Gale added that he’s blissful to see that tourism exercise must be growing throughout 2022 — benefitting the county’s financial system.

“You play an enormous half,” he informed the tourism board’s workforce.

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