News of Otsego County

Destination Marketing of Otsego County

Destination Marketing: Promote Outdoors

Destination Marketing:

Promote Great Outdoors

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to

DMCOC’s Cassandra Harrington with schematic of first post-COVID promotion. (Jim Kevlin/

COOPERSTOWN – DMCOC is looking at the doughnut, not the hole.

And the doughnut, for now, is the great outdoors, says Cassandra Harrington, executive director of the Destination Marketing Corp. of Otsego County.

In an interview Friday, May 15, Harrington said DMCOC, which contracts with Otsego County to put “heads in beds” to generate occupancy tax, had met with her board of directors the day before and it was awaiting final visuals from PaperKite, the advertising agency, to launch a program on June 1, when

Phase Two arrives and shops can open.

There is some urgency to begin promotions again.

In 2018, tourism brought in $206 million to Otsego County. Of that, $101 million was spent on payroll, funding 7,426 jobs, mostly gone this year.

In March 2019, county hotels billed $948,312; this March, it was $483,269, and there was a 46.4 drop in occupancy. “Mind you, that’s with a half-month of normalcy,” Harrington said.

With all of Cooperstown’s main draws cancelled, delayed or on hold – from Cooperstown Dreams Park to Derek Jeter’s Hall of Fame Induction – and much other activity limited by Governor Cuomo’s PAUSE, DMCOC is looking at what’s left.

“I don’t have a lot of good news,” said Harrington. “I have optimism.”

Which is: “outdoor assets,” state parks, lakes, the river. “Picnic at Lakefront Park, kayak the Susquehanna, swim in Otsego Lake, enjoy the beach at Gilbert Lake,” said Harrington.

These are all activities conducive to social distancing, so an infection-sensitive population is more likely to respond to the promotion.

Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan said she’s working with Harrington on the county’s Economic Development Task Force – Harrington chairs it – to ensure Oneonta, with its parks, the Susquehanna Greenway and hiking opportunities, fully participates.

“People are going to be travelling closer to home; they’re penned in and they want to get out,” Harrington said, so the marketing footprint, usually the Northeast, the nation and the world, is now within 150 miles from the flagpole at Main and Pioneer.

That includes the east end of Rochester, most of the rest of Upstate, dipping down toward Scranton, Pa. It does not include plague-stricken New York City.

The promotions will be rolled out on Instagram and the “This Is Cooperstown” Facebook page, where the Paperkite video had been posted as of Tuesday. The DMCOC video features “brand promoters,” people here and around the country talking about how they can’t wait to visit their favorite attractions.

For now, “all spending is on pause,” said Harrington, but beginning June 1, paid social promotion and retargeting will resume, which will place ads on websites, the leading ones which typically include,, Fox News,, CNN, USA Today and Pandora.

The ads will be swapped out with other regional attractions – the Adirondacks,
for instance – in the hope people interested in one Upstate attraction will be interested in others.

What distinguishes Otsego County in potential visitors’ minds? the DMCOC asked. Baseball, or course. “It’s a national attraction,” Harrington said.

So the theme is “Cooperstown On Deck,” a batting line-up. “Texts are emerging to match who’s open at what time,” she said.

For instance, if COVID-19 infections remain in check, Phase Four – it pretty much opens up the whole economy, subject to social distancing and other cautionary steps – will arrive in late June.

The DMCOC – it is chaired by Ken Meifert, the Hall of Fame vice president – is looking to July 1 as a “pretty good target date” for some of the museums to open. (The Clark Sports Center, part of the Clark family interests, has already announced it is looking to open at that time.)

“If museums need less people,” given the precautionary measures, “we may have to be careful about how much we can promote,” said Harrington.

In the fall, there will be another push to bring people from around the region to see the foliage.

Build On DMCOC’s Smart Marketing


Every Business Should Build

On DMCOC’s Smart Marketing

It’s been hard to approximate layoffs. Business owners don’t want to announce them, and the monthly figures seem so theoretical.

Bassett Healthcare Network, people figure – and have heard anecdotally from time to time – has certainly furloughed and cut back hours after closing two floors and halting elective surgeries while coronavirus was considered a pending local emergency. But it doesn’t want to brag about it either.

So the county Board of Representatives plans to lay off 59 people – 50.5 FT equivalents, 10 percent of its payroll for $1 million in savings, and hardly enough – was a bracing bucket of cold water.

So were state Sen. Jim Seward’s declarations over the past few weeks that a depended-upon safety net, the state Department of Labor, is inaccessible. No one’s answering the phone and constituents, after days of trying, have been calling the senator’s office in tears. He wants answers, and action.
We need to focus, people.

In an interview the other day, the able Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corp. of Otsego County (too long a name) or DMCOC (meaningless acronym) had some scary numbers to share.

In 2018, she said, tourism brought $206 million to Otsego County, of which $101 million was spent employing people in a total of 3,426 jobs. Those jobs aren’t there this summer.
Happily, Destination Marketing has an action plan: It is rolling out a summer marketing promotion on June 1, looking to draw people here from a 150-mile radius.

Before we all throw up our hands in horror: The idea is to attract people, hopefully a lot of them, to kayak (with a loved one who has been equally exposed, or not exposed). And go to our airy beaches. And

Ride bicycles – one person per bike. And hike our lovely trails – 6 feet apart, of course.
Social distancing is easy in the Great Outdoors.

After July 1, when the Hall of Fame and other attractions very likely will have reopened
(The Clark Sports Center is looking to open that day), the marketing plan will shift to attractions, (paced to ensure the local institutions are not overcrowded.)

In the fall, the marketing will shift to foliage.

All of this makes sense, in line with the two-word imperative: REOPEN SAFELY. Both words matter equally; each must be done.

Two things:

One, are Destination Marketing’s promotions being sufficiently financed?

The county’s contribution to DMCOC is based on last year’s sales- and bed-tax revenues. We know the county’s broke, but it should take a flinty-eyed look at cost-benefit before it considers cutting here.

Another source of revenue is the Partners’ Program – partners being individual hotels, restaurants and attractions. They also are strapped, some less so, and they should participate if they can.

How about our local private foundations? Perhaps they can help ensure marketing efforts are fully funded.

People, some anyhow, are reluctant to accept the fact Otsego County is a tourist economy. That fact is going to be dramatically emphasized in the months ahead.

Two, local business must do what they can to serve, and thus profit from the people lured here by DMCOC’s marketing campaigns.

Maybe restaurants can make box lunches for bicyclists or picnickers. Maybe stores can set up sidewalk displays (enabled by municipalities.) Otsego County Chamber President Barbara Ann Heegan said Oneonta City Hall is considering allowing all restaurants to do sidewalk cafes.

Nice, airy and safe idea.

Individual businesses know better how to do so for themselves. It’s important they do so.

We’re all in a fix. But it’s not a fix that’s going to last forever.

Maybe the weather will slow the coronavirus. Maybe a vaccine will be developed over the fall or winter or sooner. Maybe immunity will become widespread. Pandemics eventually end, some more happily than others.

The point is, as we flattened the curve, let’s now do what we can to soften the economic pain.

Who To Call For Takeout Today, Courtesy Of DMCOC
Reprinted From This Week’s
Freeman’s Journal, Hometown Oneonta

Who To Call For Takeout

Today, Courtesy Of DMCOC


The Destination Marketing Corp. of Otsego County (DMCOC) sponsored two full pages of ads in this week’s Hometown Oneonta & Freeman’s Journal to benefit restaurants offering takeout in Otsego County. Patronize these fine restaurants. Let’s help our neighbors.
Destination Oneonta Hosts Coloring, Balloonfest Photo Contest

Destination Oneonta Hosts

Coloring, Photo Contests

Destination Oneonta’s Katrina Van Zandt holds up two of the “#ColorMeCoop” coloring contest pages that Destination Oneonta is sponsoring with Destination Marketing of Otsego County to boost spirits and support of the downtown merchants. The pages can be downloaded from their Facebook page and are due April 12; winners will receive Downtown Dollars to spend at Oneonta merchants and restaurants. In addition, the winners of the Balloonfest Photo Contest will be announced this week; the finalists are all posted on their Facebook page. (Jim Kevlin/
Tourism Industry Donates $8,000+ In Sweat Equity

Tourism Industry Provides

$10,000 In Sweat Equity

Ashlee Lansing, who handles sports bookings for the Holiday Inn, Albany, helps paint a bleacher wall at Doubleday Field this morning.  She was part of the Tourism Cares contingent.  (Jim Kevlin/
Ashlee Lansing, who handles sports bookings for the Holiday Inn, Albany, helps paint a bleacher wall at Doubleday Field this morning. She was part of the Tourism Cares contingent. (Jim Kevlin/


Doubleday Field manager  Quinton Hasak leads a group of Tourism Cares volunteers into the field this morning.
Doubleday Field manager Quinton Hasak leads a group of Tourism Cares volunteers into the field this morning.

COOPERSTOWN – Three dozen volunteers from Tourism Cares are painting the bleachers at Doubleday Field at this hour, part of a national effort that allows hundreds of tourism professionals to “give back” annually.

The volunteers will be able to say, “I painted the outfield wall at Doubleday Field and swung a bat at home plate,” said Jay Smith of Sports Travel & Tours, Hatfield, Mass., the official travel agent of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  He estimated the volunteers will do $8,000-$10,000 worth of work today.

Smith, who worked with Mayor Jeff Katz, Destination Marketing of Otsego County exec Deb Taylor, and tourism agencies in Albany and Oneida counties, pointed out that the NTA (National Tourism Association) logo includes the phrase, “Save Our Sites,” and that the intent of the undertaking, as well as to familiarize tourism professional with attractions around the country.

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