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ROOST's new contract shows room for growth

November 14, 2013
ANDY FLYNN - Editor ( , Lake Placid News

Last week, members of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors hired the Lake Placid-based Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) for their tourism promotion in 2014. Based on this success, we wonder if there's room for growth in the Olympic Region for tourism marketing jobs at ROOST.

With more than 30 years of tourism experience - and a well-qualified and capable team of staff and board members that gets results - ROOST Executive Director Jim McKenna is a leader in the tourism industry, not just here in the Adirondack Park, but in the state of New York, and, we would argue, the nation and the world (Lake Placid is, after all, an international destination). He blushes when we say this, but we've seen him in action. It's no wonder tourism and government officials consistently seek his advice on tourism promotion and planning.

What began as a local convention center and visitors bureau for the village of Lake Placid and town of North Elba has morphed into a regional marketing powerhouse. The group took on marketing duties for Essex County and then changed its name in January 2010 from the Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau to ROOST.

At the time, McKenna said, "Following our accreditation as the destination marketing organization for all of Essex County, the new name is the next progression of our organization."

ROOST staffers soon launched a marketing brand for Lake Placid. They worked with the Olympic Regional Development Authority on sales for the new convention center. And they developed destination master plans for the communities of Moriah, Ticonderoga, Wilmington, Saranac Lake and North Elba/Lake Placid. The organization progressed further with tourism marketing contracts for the town of Harrietstown and village of Saranac Lake.

A main reason ROOST is in the enviable position in which it can expand beyond Lake Placid - in that it's able to do marketing other communities can't - is because it is subsidized with public funds, such as the Essex County occupancy tax. And that funding comes from more than just Lake Placid; much of it has come from the state. Therefore, ROOST has an obligation to help other Adirondack communities. As ROOST officials realize, the region's biggest selling point is the Adirondacks, not the Lake Placid Olympic legacy.

Now, with the Hamilton County contract, the question is, "How far will ROOST progress?"

For now, McKenna says, they will have their hands full, and they will definitely need extra help with marketing Hamilton County. Whether that means more local jobs or contracting out the work, it's too soon to tell. But what we see here is an opportunity for growth.

As counties, such as Hamilton, re-focus their staff time toward economic development, there may be more need to contract out tourism marketing. And ROOST, as the leader in tourism marketing, has a chance to help other communities with their promotional needs.

Yet it is in the field of tourism management that ROOST really has an opportunity to grow. And that could mean new jobs for Lake Placid. ROOST is considered a destination marketing organization (DMO). Now McKenna is talking about destination management, and his team will be implementing some of those strategies in Essex and Hamilton counties. In short, destination management is about planning and making sure communities have the right amenities that the traveling public is looking for. And that means a lot of consulting with local and county government leaders.

If they are successful, more communities may be knocking at ROOST's door and asking for help. And that can only benefit Lake Placid's position as a leader in international tourism.



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