Connecticut may be facing tough budgetary decisions, but unlike a handful of years ago when tourism promotional efforts were virtually eliminated in the midst of a recession, the state’s tourism initiatives are gaining renewed attention. The Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Office of Tourism will host a 2015 statewide tourism conference for industry professionals in the state’s leisure, hospitality and tourism sector on May 12. The all-day Connecticut Governor’s Conference on Tourism will run from 8 am to 4 pm at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford.
The goal of the conference is to bring together professionals from every aspect of Connecticut’s tourism industry — including hotels, restaurants, casinos, tourist attractions, entertainment venues, historic sites, and cultural and arts institutions — to share best practices and learn from national tourism and travel experts. The statewide conference is managed by the DECD Connecticut Office of Tourism in partnership with the Connecticut Convention & Sports Bureau.
This day-long industry conference will feature speakers presenting the latest research and best practices, sessions for industry professionals, an overview of the state’s higher education resources, a focus on New York City meeting planners, experts on capturing a share of the international tourist market, ways to maximize use of social media, Tourism Awards for outstanding industry leaders, and an array of workshops on areas including mobile marketing and group bus tours, as well as an exhibition of the most innovative products and services in the tourism sector, according to state officials. Cost for the conference is $99, for industry professionals.
In addition, the conference will feature a special report on the results of the state’s still revolutionary campaign over the last three years. The keynote speaker will be Peter Yesawich of MMGY Global, a travel marketing expert who will share research-driven insights about the very latest trends in the travel industry and how they can affect Connecticut’s tourism efforts.
Traveler spending of $8.3 billion generated $14 billion in economic activity statewide in 2013, according to a study released recently by the office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. The study shows funds generated directly, through traveler spending, or indirectly, as employees, businesses and other beneficiaries turned around and paid for goods and services. Travelers to Connecticut destinations spent 3.0% more in 2013 than in 2012. Of all Connecticut travelers in 2013, nearly two-thirds were day travelers (66%). The tourism sector supported more than 118,500 jobs in 2013, according to a recent state report.
The state’s tourism efforts are also quite visible on television, with a series of promotional commercials highlighting various attractions in the state. Standard Directors, a Greenwich-based live action production company, is producing a series of six on-air commercials for the Connecticut Office of Tourism, working in conjunction with Avon ad agency Adams & Knight.
The campaign features six spots across the state that highlight Connecticut’s small towns, parks, beaches, vineyards and sightseeing attractions. Standard Directors was founded in 2013 and creates commercials for local, state and national companies and agencies. Among the attractions featured in the commercials are Silverman’s Farm in Easton, Mystic Aquarium, Craig Castle in Meriden and Hartford Stage.
“This campaign is entirely location driven, pairing two locations in the state that can be visited in one day, without having to travel too far, by families, couples and friends,” said Brian Bennhoff, partner and executive producer, Standard Directors, and a New Canaan resident. “We spent a lot of time … selecting beautiful locations that represent the state.” Philip McIntyre, a Greenwich resident and partner in Standard Directors, said the majority of the 20-plus person crew were local hires and all 19 actors were local talent. Editing, he said, was done both at Standard Directors’ office on West Putnam Avenue and at Palace Production Center in South Norwalk, according to the Fairfield Business Journal.
Lead sponsors for the Tourism Conference on May 12 include Foxwoods, Mohegan Sun, Waterford Hotel Group and the Connecticut Convention Center.