Contact: John Golden
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Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board Expands Membership Benefits

"Valley" Forge becomes "Value" Forge, as the VFTCB Provides Members with More Resources - at No Additional Charge

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa. - Membership benefits in the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board (VFTCB) are taking a jump in 2016, as part of the organization's efforts to expand its collaborative reach throughout Montgomery County and the region.

A VFTCB Speaker Series launches January 28, with an informational program at the Sheraton Valley Forge in King of Prussia from 4 to 5 p.m. followed by a networking mixer. It is the first of a series of VFTCB-led presentations to provide practical and strategic information to the local hospitality industry.

The programming is free to VFTCB members. The initiative comes under the organization's general effort to bolster membership numbers and increase the value of a relationship with the VFTCB. Thus far, the effort has resulted in 114 new organizations signing on in the past year. New VFTCB members since 2015 represent a 21 percent lift in participating businesses related to the local tourism industry.

"The idea for the Speaker Series came from the knowledge that several VFTCB members represent small organizations or mom-and-pop businesses. Resources can be thin for marketing initiatives like PR and media relations. So we decided to bring our expertise to our members in a program of scheduled presentations," says VFTCB President & CEO Mike Bowman.

"We making them as informative as possible - but we're also going to have some fun," Bowman continues. "Future topics will include things like wine tastings, the basics of a golf swing or health and fitness recommendations - things that fall under the general category of lifestyle enhancements."

The topic for the initial session is "Finding Your Sharable Moments: Creative Content for Social Media," led by Joe Tacynec, VFTCB Creative Content and Social Media Manager, and Taylor Tropea, VFTCB Marketing and Social Media Associate.

"Social media skills are crucial to success in the tourism and hospitality industry," says VFTCB Vice President of Marketing and Communications Edward Harris. "With so many people posting about their experiences - good and bad - public discussion is widespread. We at the VFTCB see both the upside and the downside for our members and we therefore want to stress the importance of managing that messaging. Hotels, restaurants, historic sites, family-friendly destinations, park personnel and other professionals tied to our tourism industry need to constantly monitor what's being said about them in public forums, highlighting the positives and mitigating the negatives. "And From a business perspective, many organizations are coming to the realization that their social media pages are equally if not more important than their homepage."

He continues, "Fortunately, our expertise in this area is deep. Our social media reach has exploded over the past 18 months or so, with now more than 65,000 VFTCB followers across all channels - including our new presence on Snapchat. Joe and Taylor live this media every day and have become not only strategic but also creative with its use. We're looking forward to sharing that extensive knowledge with our members.

Megan Tomlinson, Director of Event Services and Membership, comments, "We are very excited to be engaging with members in this new forum. The Speaker Series joins our existing platform of member-centric communications tools: ongoing training on our extranet, a bi-monthly newsletter, ample networking events, a presence on our website, online event listings, blog opportunities, inclusion in our yearly Visitors Guide and an invitation to our spectacular annual luncheon. The range of topics scheduled for the Speaker Series - together with the expertise of our presenters - will make these sessions a not-to-be-missed event for VFTCB members."

The January 28 program on social media will be followed by a networking mixer, giving VFTCB members an opportunity to cross-pollinate their insights.

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The Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board is a nonprofit, membership-based sales and marketing organization that actively promotes the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County, Pa., as a convention site and leisure visitor destination by encouraging patronage of its 300-plus member hotels, restaurants, attractions and services. The Board's website serves visitors, meeting planners, tour operators and residents, as well as hosting The Pursuit, a twice-weekly blog.