Like America’s founders, a group of Philadelphia attractions wants to be in the room where it happens—or the Zoom where it happens.
Destination Philly, a collaborative marketing group, started meeting in the fall of 2017 to discuss common interests. Much like how NTA members occasionally meet in separate groups, representatives of Philadelphia attractions have been putting their heads together to discuss shared concerns, such as advertising, packaging, trade shows, marketing, group experiences, and sales.
“We used this group as a sounding board for decisions we were making at our individual institutions and as a way to learn as much as we possibly could about tour and travel industry trends,” says Gina Romanelli, director of group sales at the National Constitution Center.
Members developed a mission statement, organizational structure, membership requirements, and a list of organizational goals, with “Sell Philadelphia as an ultimate group destination” at the top. And through quarterly meetings and a vibrant travel market, the group was doing just that.
Enter the pandemic … and quarterly meetings turned into weekly Zooms.
“When COVID began, we needed our group more than ever to support each other as we watched our hard work of the past year just disappear: cancellation after cancellation, refund after refund,” Romanelli says.
Yet as time wore on and the pandemic eased, the group shifted gears from sympathy to recovery and began discussing how they could work together to restore group travel in Philadelphia. They put together a promotional piece titled “Philly’s back in business” and emailed it to an audience that’s crucial to business.
“We sent it to tour operators so they could look in one place to find contact info, new hours of operation, pricing, protocols, etc. A lot of these things changed after COVID,” Romanelli says. “The Destination Philly group hosted several happy hours and info sessions with tour operators, and we sent this document as a follow-up piece.”
Travel began picking up this past spring, as warm weather returned and vaccinations took hold, but that didn’t mean Destination Philly was done.
“We still meet either weekly or every other week, and we discuss the highs and lows we’re each facing,” Romanelli says. “We have lost some close friends along the way due to furloughs and layoffs, but the group manages to stay positive because we were truly in this together. We are not alone!”
And whether future meetings will take place in a room or by Zoom, Romanelli says the group’s members will long remember how much they learned from—and leaned on—each other during a difficult time.
“I anticipate this group existing for a very long time.”
For more information, email Romanelli or call 215.409.6695.
Top photo: Signers’ Hall at the National Constitution Center features 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers.
Photo by National Constitution Center