CARS HOMES JOBS

Proctors revives tourism website

Grant to help match events, businesses

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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— Instead of saying Schenectady, why not try visiting?

The “Say Schenectady” promotion campaign launched by the county Chamber of Commerce more than a decade ago is getting an overhaul by Proctors, the agency now tasked with administering a state grant aimed at bolstering regional tourism. The new campaign will start as an online initiative offering free promotion for tourism-related businesses and attractions at the new website, www.visitschenectady.com.

In January, the “Say Schenectady” domain name used by the chamber since 2003 expired. Promoters at Proctors figured the time was right to change sayschenectady.org to something that more adequately reflects the goal of the campaign: to get people to visit county attractions.

“We thought it was a good opportunity for us to rename the site something a little more explanatory,” said Leesa Perazzo, who oversees group and special events for Proctors.

Earlier this month, Proctors began soliciting listings from county businesses to post unique profiles on the site at no cost. Once completed, web traffic will be redirected from sayschenectady.org to the new site, Perazzo said.

The new site will aim to link county attractions — places like the Mabee Farm in Rotterdam Junction or the sprawling Plotter Kill Preserve on the border of Princetown — with businesses that cater to visitors. These could include restaurants, hotels or even a shopping area.

“It’s the easiest way for us to communicate what is in the county in a way that everyone can access,” Perazzo said of the new promotion.

In December 2011, Schenectady County legislators designated Proctors as the tourism promotion agency for the purpose of enlisting in Empire State Development’s “I Love New York” program. The designation allowed Proctors to access a matching $33,935 grant for regional tourism promotion activities.

The program was originally administered by the chamber, but when county legislators and many chamber businesses didn’t want to match the state portion, Proctors offered to take over, using its own funds so the grant money wouldn’t be lost.

Proctors is unique in administering the grant, which is typically overseen by a regional chamber of commerce or tourism bureau. The theater must send quarterly reports to Empire State Development outlining how the grant is used to promote county destinations.

Phillip Morris, Proctors’ chief executive officer, acknowledged the theater needed to expand its promotion efforts to include a greater number of county attractions last year. The new website represents the theater taking a greater step toward promoting a broader cross-section of destinations.

“It’s really just using our tourism promotion agency role to bring awareness to people about Schenectady County,” Perazzo said.

The new site also means a departure from the tourism promotion slogan that has been used in the county since 2001. The “Say Schenectady” campaign was a print and radio campaign launched by the chamber that was transformed into a website promoting local businesses in 2003.

Chamber President Charles Steiner said the campaign was effective for its time, but was in need of an update. He credited Proctors for undertaking a new online venture that will promote the county.

“We probably would have changed it ourselves,” he said of the old campaign.

 
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