Earlier this month, the Regional Office for Sustainable Tourism facilitated a tour for several influential travel and lifestyle bloggers. Several are pictured here at the Hungry Trout Fly Shop in Wilmington on Tuesday, Aug. 11.
LAKE PLACID — A crew of international travel and lifestyle bloggers took a whirlwind tour of the North Country earlier this month.
Branded as #EatPlayLoveNY, the outing was designed by the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism to drum up interest in local destinations by using these tastemakers to influence their readers, who collectively number in the hundreds of thousands, to follow their lead and book their own trips.
After touching down in Montreal, the group kicked off their six-day stint at Point Au Roche State Park in Plattsburgh, where they navigated a short stretch of the 14-mile trail network. Later that day, they found themselves waist-deep in the AuSable River with a Wilmington-based fly fishing guide, casting off with the hopes of reeling in a winner.
The rest of the week was a blur packed with the blend of outdoor recreation, from hiking in Tupper Lake to kayaking near Wellesley Island, and whimsical experiences that have come to define the Adirondack brand:
Amazing. Magnificent. Stunning. Beautiful, said the bloggers.
Of course, they chronicled each canoe ride and pitstop on social media, hammering out a steady stream of commentary, selfies, pics and plugs to their followers across the world, who ate up the experience in real time across a wide spectrum of platforms, from Twitter to Instagram.
“I absolutely love it here,” said Sandy Allen, an Ottawa resident who blogs at Canadian Blog House. “I am loving the Adirondacks.”
The tour is just one prong of ROOST’s strategy to promote tourism destinations across the North Country.
While the agency develops and shares their own promotional content, they also prioritize the cultivation of relationships with online influencers and travel bloggers, explained Communications Director Kim Reilly.
“By hosting these online storytellers on familiarization tours, we facilitate the creation of first-person accounts of the Adirondack visitor experience,” said Reilly, “and leverage those influencers’ social media networks to amplify them.”
Shortly afterward the bloggers departed, the posts went up.
Vicky Philpott, a London-based writer who blogs at Vicky Flip Flop Travels, hammered out a series of entries diving into the region’s history, activities and the emerging microbrewery industry, including Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake.
She ticked off the names of the beaver-themed brews.
“I’d love to come back here for the special events,” wrote Philpott. “Fun staff and a great spot for a beer in the sun.”
Allen said she was blown away by her first visit to the region and thinks her fellow Canadians will react similarly.
Fort Ticonderoga was magnificent, she said, while she found Plattsburgh to be a “beautiful little town.”
When she touched back down on her home turf, Allen gave her readers “11 Reasons Why You Need to Visit the Adirondacks and Northern New York State!”
“After returning from a whirlwind tour of the Adirondacks and upper New York State, I’ve been left to wonder — why did it take me 47 years to discover this stunning region that lies so close to home?” wrote Allen. “I have no answer. Just a little regret… and a whole lot of catching up to do.”
Readers and fellow bloggers immediately began sounding off.
“I’m embarrassed to say that I have never even heard of the Adirondacks,” wrote DeBalino, a blogger who writes a kids-style blog, BabyStylista. “Not even sure how to pronounce it. But what an amazing place! The food looks divine and the scenery is breathtaking. I go to New York quite a bit and would love to take a detour and check out this wonderful place.”
This conversation is part of the strategy, explained Reilly.
The majority of traveling planning occurs online. Since conversations about Adirondack destinations are already happening there, the goal is to open up conversations during the “dream” stage of the visitor’s planning process.
Following tours, ROOST monitors media coverage and increased word of mouth to track elements of success.
Since this group used a common hashtag on all platforms — #EatPlayLoveNY (think of it like an online road map) — and was provided with destination website addresses to include in their blogs, Reilly and her team will be able to track trends and activity via analytics tools and measure the effectiveness of each blogger.
Nearly after two weeks after the crew fanned back out across the world, the #EatPlayLoveNY hashtag continued to crackle as posts continued to be shared, remixed and picked up by other outlets, including large online travel communities like Those Who Wander.
Erin Musich, who writes at the World Wanderer, said the trip was transformative.
“It’s changed my understanding of the area,” said Musich, who lives in the NYC metro area. “Hopefully it’ll make them visit the region and see something unexpected and how something so close to home could be so different.”