As the final days of the school year approach, vacation is on everyone’s mind. As many prepare to visit other places, Venango County will be the destination for many. Our communities have taken the first steps to get ready, holding clean-up days and planting flower gardens, and some businesses just opening their doors for the summer season.
Local trails will soon be bustling with bike riders and hikers and the waterways with boaters. We all get excited at the prospect of the energy and commerce driven by the tourists who will be visiting.
We can often recognize a visitor, and hopefully are ready to respond with hospitality aimed at making their local experience one to remember, but we can forget we have visitors to our region year round, for many reasons other than recreation. It can be easy to overlook the businesses that drive those visitors.
On our cover of VenangoWorks! this month, we featured Maxine Hellem, a resident of Oakwood Heights, with family during a recent visit to the Venango Museum. Our senior care facilities can be temporary or permanent homes for people from our area, but also attract those from further away, who need the specialized care they offer. With them come their loved ones, who then are visitors to our area, seeking lodging, restaurants and when time allows, ways to spend time during a visit.
Betsy Kellner, executive director of the Museum, recently shared a story of a young businessman who stopped by while working on a project in a neighboring county. In addition to his interest in the museum, he asked for a referral to a local restaurant. He was pleased with the food and extreme hospitality he received, and stopped back to see Betsy to let her know how wonderful his experience was.
Often, our youth experience local tourism and learn about our region, too, including field trips to museums, like the Christian Life Academy class in the photo above.
As you think of tourism, the state’s second highest economic driver, this is the perfect time to reflect on how to broaden your view of who a visitor is, and also consider how your business may be driving visitors to the region.
Lindsey Canchola, regional director of sales and marketing at Oakwood Heights, reminds us: “It takes the entire community to ensure that our residents are not only healthy, but happy. When their families enjoy visiting, and when our staff are also having the best experiences in the community outside of work, it all filters back to them.”
Imagine a community where we treated every one we encounter as a visitor who we hope will return!
This article was published in the Venango Area Chamber of Commerce’s June 2019 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.