Tourism Marketing

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Living north of the Mason-Dixon line, I get a little tired of all the Blue State – Red State chatter and the way that the South gets looked down upon from the ivory towers on both coasts. I have never found it less than rewarding  to visit any Southern state or city. The locals are always friendly, the food is always comforting, and the music is always invigorating.

The chance to visit the Electronic Security Expo in Nashville was no exception. I had a great time sampling barb-b-q, listening to honky tonk bands, and sighting Elvis (at last four times in an hour).

My sense of Nashville is that it exists for in-state politics and out-of-state tourists lured by the Grand Ole Opry and the chance to discover the next great country music star in one of the many juke joints along Broadway.  Most of the manageable downtown consists of hotels, a few office buildings, the convention center, and a lot of tourism sites and supporting businesses. I didn’t see a lot of residences in town, so the city really seems like a business and arts center.











Nashville is doing a good job of converting long-gone spaces into new places. Former banks on opposite corners are now a gift store and a tattoo parlor respectively.











A visit to the Ernest Tubbs record store reminded me that vinyl lives. And that country and crossover music has a unique heritage all its own. Personal favorites like Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Patsy Cline, and Steve Earle were there in abundance.

By the time the ESX show opened, I was in a mellow CMT frame of mind. It was great to visit clients former (Linear), present (2GIG Technologies, Secure Wireless) and hopefully future (Security Partners). It was even better to help out with some onsite PR when 2GIG Technologies did the remarkable — winning the overall Maximum Impact Award two years running with a second incredible home security/automation panel, the Go! 2.0.  It was a terrific way to wind up a fun visit to a fun Southern city. Makes me long for a road trip through Memphis, Charleston, Savannah, Atlanta, New Orleans. . .

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This post-Halloween edition of NewtonIdeas is devoted to an undervalued, under-appreciated way for communities (cities and small towns) to boost their tourism revenue, especially during the month of October — ghost tours. The best of these walking/talking/yarn-spinning excursions are wonderful mixes of architectural visits, local history lessons, and occult experiences. Because they are walking tours, the group gets to soak in local culture and atmosphere, often winding past main street restaurants and retailers. They attract all ages, and often, entire families. They spark the interest of participants to learn more about the people and places they hear about on the tour.

Our reason for attending Ghost Tours of Phoenixville was to find something different for a birthday party outing for a small group of middle schoolers. We were rewarded with a fun night out, listening to some intriguing, not-too-scary stories about haunted goings-on around an old steel mill town that is having a gentrified resurgence otherwise through fine dining, arts, music, and a very walkable downtown. And we all had a few genuinely spooky moments. Not the same frights as you’d get from a haunted house full of movie monsters. But the tour yielded its share of ghostly accounts.

Of all places, the Phoenixville Library has made a list of most haunted sites. It even led the cable show “Scared” to devote an entire show to investigating paranormal weirdness in and around the stacks, the attic, the children’s library, and the front lawn of the library.

Local legends can be fun and take on a life of their own, especially through popular culture. Anyone who has ever read Greyfriars Bobby will appreciate this version of the shaggy dog story and how a local legend can pay big dividends for an entire community.

I like all that Phoenixville has to offer enough that I didn’t need another reason to return (the town also collaborates with the historical Colonial Theater to stage an annual “Blob Fest” every summer, since the famous scene from 50s Horror Classic, “The Blob”, where the crowd runs screaming from the theater, actually took place at the Colonial.

However, now, my curiosity about the spiritual energy at the Phoenxiville Library has been piqued. Here is a photo taken by iPhone, without flash, that captures the presence of orbs outside this reportedly haunted facility. Whether astral projections from a paranormal presence on the site or some other other-worldly phenomena, there is definitely something in the air in Phoenixville.

Orbs outside the haunted Phoenixville Library.

Orbs outside the haunted Phoenixville Library.

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