Tourism is one of the state’s top economic drivers and Venango County is home to many of the valued attractions for visitors. Even a one day visit by a family can infuse hundreds of dollars into our region. Multiplied across the year and including local residents spending on these amenities means millions that can be reinvested in our community.
Whose responsibility is it to market our region? The Oil Region Alliance is the designated tourism promotion agency and receives funding to do so, but the job is far too large for one organization. Additional partners throughout the county and even surrounding counties work collaboratively with the Oil Region Alliance to promote local tourist attractions, year-round events, and businesses who directly or indirectly are associated with visitors. We tend to think about lodging, restaurants, and bike and kayak rentals, but visitors may need many of the same goods and services as residents, especially if they are planning extended visits.
Emily Altomare, Communications & Tourism Manager at the Oil Region Alliance, shares that we are fortunate to have so many ways to reach people and share why they should spend time in the Oil Region, but it can also be challenging, as people acquire their information in many different ways. Traditional marketing includes newspaper, radio, and billboards. These all remain relevant for many in the community but can be costly and have time restraints. Social media– Facebook, Instagram, and other apps– are free or affordable, timely, and can be very dynamic, but still don’t reach those who choose not to participate. Websites continue to be a very important source of information for almost everyone, and as such require well thought-out and updated content.
Printed brochures and guides have become more of a challenge to justify, but still have a place in any dynamic promotion. They share the same limitation of any traditional media, bearing a significant cost, taking time to print and distribute, and having a permanent non-editable format. But a well designed printed piece can be very effective in communicating the visual imagery of an area and providing important contact information and directions.
Ultimately, the ORA and all partners in promoting our area must have the participation of the entire community. Those involved in events and attractions should share as much information as possible, directly to the Oil Region Alliance and through their own websites and promotions. Businesses and organizations can plan their offerings around how they serve visitors and then communicate these with the ORA and the Chamber. Events added to the calendar on beherevenango.org are monitored by our organization and shared.
Each year the Oil Region Alliance has published a visitor guide, which is distributed locally and across the state. It is also sent to visitors upon request. The next edition of the guide will be a two-year edition–2023 to 2024. Emily is now seeking information for this multi-year publication, along with advertisements. Now is the time to consider what information you can share for inclusion. You can view the visitor guide online at oilregion.org/tourism/visitor-guide.
Emily says: “It is a privilege to get to share our region’s story with locals as well as visitors, and to work with area businesses and event organizers to bring people here to learn about all of the terrific things we have to offer, from the natural outdoor recreation on the waterways and trails, to the museums and special events, and our rich heritage.”
There is no more important task in promoting our area than by carefully choosing how you speak about Venango County. Learn about what others are interested in, especially visitors, so that you are ready to provide information and share enthusiastically why you have chosen this as home.
Do you want copies of the Oil Region National Heritage Area Visitor Guide for your business? Call Emily Altomare at (814) 677-3152.
This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s August 2022 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.