Say Hello to the New Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board
Before a festive crowd at the King of Prussia Mall this afternoon, a new direction was announced for travel and tourism throughout Montgomery County, Pa. After months of preparation, planning, revision, brainstorming and creative input, the public and press were introduced to the new Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.
The news, delivered by Board President Bill Fitzgerald, was greeted with cheers and a swinging sea of white rally towels, bearing the message: MakeItMontco.
"You see it all around us," he said, pointing to a colorful banner hanging from the ceiling outside Lord & Taylor. "It's there on the cart that will be onsite here at the King of Prussia Mall through May 18th, offering visitors information about all there is to do in Montco. It's on the kiosk that will travel around the county this spring and summer to shopping malls, attractions, festivals, events and sports tournaments."
Fitzgerald's enthusiasm about the initiative is tough to resist: "Here's what I love about it," he freely admits. "It's contemporary; it's countywide; and it's inclusive." He sees the refreshed outlook as crucial in growing tourism, which, in turn "...means more revenue in area businesses, more jobs and a greater impact on the local economy."
Changing the name of the organization is only part of the transformation, whose intent went broader and deeper. The Board has sharpened its mission statement to embrace the whole of Montgomery County and all its facets. A new logo - a trio of shooting stars - is part of the rebrand, evoking all that Montgomery County has to offer, from the field of stars on a Colonial flag to a burst of dazzling fireworks to a starlit sky on a romantic stroll. A MakeItMontco microsite debuts today, to be followed by a complete overhaul of the Board's existing online presence.
Collectively, these tools will be used as a platform to remind the public of the genuine appeal of our neighborhoods, our nightlife, our history, our family-friendly activities, our natural treasures and our dining and accommodation options. The goal is to celebrate the touchpoints that make us a stand-out destination - our art, music, culinary expression, retail, history, natural beauty and hospitality.
Heightening neighborhood awareness is just the beginning. Once the locals are fired up, the initiative moves to a wider audience. "This is step one. This is our backyard campaign," he explains. "It's where we show our pride and where we showcase Valley Forge and Montgomery County as a diverse, contemporary landscape for adventure and productivity. It's where we inform and inspire travelers by sharing meaningful stories and experiences that are our MakeItMontco moments."
What is a MakeItMontco moment?
Fitzgerald explains: "For shop owners, it's that picture of an excited customer who found that just-right item. For restaurants, it's that story of the couple that got engaged tableside. For residents, it's baseball games, barbeques, parties, picnics, a family bike adventure on one of our trails. For history buffs, it's a beautiful photo of the famed encampment at Valley Forge National Historical Park at sunset. It's all good," he enthuses. "Share the fun, whether flying solo, with friends, family or co-workers. It's right now, right here."
The initiative will continue to unfold, encompassing a campaign that kicks off on June 21, the first day of summer. "This is when we invite travelers to explore their freedom in Valley Forge and Montgomery County," Fitzgerald says. Components include a hotel package and use of The Pursuit blog and the Board's social media outlets to strengthen the messaging.
Josh Shapiro, Chairman, Board of County Commissioners, Montgomery County, was a featured speaker at the rally. He led the crowd in a rousing chant - "Make it Montco! Make it Montco!" - before settling into his comments:"Montgomery County is an extraordinary place to live and work and visit. And the role of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board going forward is better defined than it's ever been, as far as the holistic approach to marketing the county. And I am so excited about the work it is doing and will continue to do. I'm just a huge believer in you guys and the mission that has been set out. I will be your biggest cheerleader."
The announcement at King of Prussia Mall maintained a party atmosphere well after the speakers had finished. Locals and dignitaries chatted about the rebrand as they continued to sip the champagne and nibble on the hors d'oeuvres that were served to mark the announcement. Representatives from The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College were on hand to serve star-shaped cookies that guests decorated themselves. Bubby the Bison from the Elmwood Park Zoo bounced around enthusiastically to the sound of the band, Jazz Horse.
Armed with swag bags filled with chocolate, car magnets, balloons, fake tattoos and a handy pamphlet, the crowd drifted off. Presumably to get started pursuing their own MakeItMontco moments.