Heritage Corridors: Routes to Increased Occupancy

By John Poimiroo Principal, Poimiroo & Partners | October 28, 2008

When limited markets are divided among competing hotels with similar facilities and services, hoteliers find that new guests can be attracted and hotel occupancy increased by revisiting the past.

They've discovered that heritage corridors create additional reasons to travel a route, be loyal to a property and stay longer. These less-traveled corridors were once the beaten path, but now have nostalgic appeal for travelers in search of a slower pace, authenticity and our nation's history.

Nearly all the 35 National Heritage Corridors and most state and local corridors are built around old transportation corridors... old highways, railroads, canals, rivers, ports and other waterways, but it is not the byways, historic facilities or equipment themselves that attract public interest. It is their historical and cultural character that does so.

Utah describes its heritage corridors as where "yesterday meets today," and "where history continues to shape the architecture, music, crafts, foods, festivals, customs, culture and lifestyle." Like many states, Utah employs its heritage corridors as a tool to encourage travelers to visit lesser-known destinations. In turn, rural and depressed economies benefit through the export value of travel spending, which also helps sustain arts, culture and traditional lifestyles both directly and indirectly. The entertaining stories and cultures along these byways attract travel spending, generate state and local tax revenues and create new jobs, motivating local officials and residents to see cultural heritage tourism as vital to their economies and way of life.

Every part of America has stories and cultures of interest to travelers, whether it be native American history and culture, early European colonies, military installations and battlefields, the arts, crafts and cultural traditions of local people or pop culture (i.e., motion pictures, the summer of love, rock music, etc.). Grand themes are always compelling, but even lesser ones can attract a following. And, heritage corridors need not be limited to the countryside, compact corridors can provide the warp and woof of a city's cultural fabric.

All but one of America's National Heritage Corridors are located east of the Mississippi River. Those in the east are largely related to transportation corridors, such as the Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor in New York State or the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor in Connecticut, but heritage corridors need not be limited to transportation routes, either. There are conceptual routes such as Texas' Los Caminos del Rio" or "Texas in World War II" corridors. Any aspect of the American experience can be a heritage corridor.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.