Summary of Team Journey:

Following the retreat, the Tourism Team began meeting regularly. We first discussed our DISC assessments and how each of our results would contribute to the group’s dynamic. With being the final program day for the year, our meetings were a bit more infrequent.

We explored what tourism meant to each of us and what we thought tourism looked like in the Roanoke Region. From there, we met with different experts including Doug Blount with Roanoke County, Katie Conner with Virginia Tourism Corporation, and a panel of employees from Visit Virginia Blue Ridge. We were able to dissect different projects as well as consider marketing and branding. As we learned more, the vision for our day grew.

Another likely commonality among groups holding the last program day, we changed our itinerary several times. Different ideas sparked from different conversations and expertise. Once springtime hit, we all decided we needed to buckle down and begin making our vision more concrete.

We ultimately decided to meet at Explore Park to network while enjoying breakfast, hear from Explore Park staff, and meet with the Roanoke Regional Partnership for the opening. RRP is increasing focus on attraction and retention efforts, and we thought this would be a great start to the day.

To get a feel for things happening in the City as well as the County, we hoped to take the group to the in-river kayak drop-off to meet with City staff on how these efforts will enhance Roanoke’s natural amenities. Conveniently, Black Dog Salvage was just a quick walk away and was going to be a unique spot to visit and explore. Our vision included hosting lunch and yard games in the dog bowl followed by a couch conversation with our panelists on the stage.

We chose our panelists in a way to touch on multiple different points- marketing and economic development as well as the different organizations lifting up tourism in our Region. We chose people who have their hands on multiple different components regionally as opposed to focused on one particular locality or area. Katie offered great feedback to our group and we wanted to utilize her VTC expertise as the state-wide tourism agency. Kathryn Lucas from VBR has been the mastermind behind VBR’s second-annual marketing campaign in DC as well as a frequent tour guide for travel writers who visit. We knew she would offer a lot of unique expertise particularly with marketing and marketing tourism for our Region. To bring it all together, we looped in John Hull with the Partnership as he works with localities and groups to showcase the Region and attract businesses and people. We knew we could tackle a lot of ground in this panel lineup.

We then wanted to split the group into an active group and leisure group to accommodate for everyone. We coordinated with Roanoke Disc Golf Club to teach and play disc golf with part of the group at Mayflower Hills. For others in the group, we coordinated for Doug to meet with everyone and discuss Illuminights while walking the trail. The trail would not contain the lights, but we thought that added to the magic and amplified how much the trail and park transforms in the winter.

To account for weather, we adjusted much of these later activities. Quickly, we pivoted to bring City staff, Pete Eshleman and Katie Slusher, to Explore Park to have the discussion on the in-river kayak drop-off. From there, we shuttled participants to Black Dog Salvage for a quick tour before taking everyone to 5 Points Music Sanctuary for lunch. This was a great venue space, especially so last minute. They had the perfect set up for the panel discussion there as well.

Still accounting for the weather, we eliminated disc golf and hosted everyone back at Explore Park for a conversation with Doug on leadership and how leadership and perseverance has been a big part of the successful startup for Illuminights. Doug kept the conversation engaging with trivia and beneficial advice.

Merging with our original plan, we were able to go through with hosting our social at Twin Creeks Brew Pub which we received commentary that this venue was a first for LRV socials! #TrailSetters

Speaking of hashtags, we coordinated a social media challenge throughout the day by encouraging participants to post pictures at the different venues and tag the venues and organizations. We hoped this would help fill the marketing gap, even if just for a day.

We felt our day introduced participants to unique venues and perspectives while encouraging participants to get involved and spread the word.

Program Objectives:

Educate participants about influences on tourism and its impact on the Roanoke Valley.

Explore the diverse offerings of the Roanoke Valley.

Inspire participants to go beyond and set new trails in the wonderful place we live, work, and play.

Calls to Action:

Stay informed on developments, events, and initiatives. Subscribe to newsletters, follow relevant social media accounts, and stay informed on ongoing opportunities to engage.

Advocate for our local economy by portraying the Roanoke Valley as a wonderful tourist destination by social media and word of mouth.

Take time to explore the Roanoke Valley. Support local businesses and tourism in the Roanoke Valley.

Team Members:

Teresa Fridley
Amanda Holcomb
Jene Amundson
Kaelyn Spickler
Lydia Aluise
Robyn Tuck
Will Stephenson

Team Advisors:

Scott Hudson
Sara Guerry
Jodi Judge
Jeremy Longshore

URL to Team Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1SMiRovTREvGaWueka8eGnafQi8Dix8Vs?usp=sharing