Here are the most frequently asked questions about our organization. You may have others and we encourage you to contact us with those questions. Feel free to call (585) 394-3915 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where do you get your funding?
Finger Lakes Visitors Connection gets is money primarily from three sources: Ontario County's Lodging tax of 3% provides about 75% of the funding that the agency uses. The next largest source of funding is a New York State Matching Grant. This money can only be used for promotional purposes and cannot be used for personnel or other overhead expenses. Finally, about 10% of our budget comes from cooperative fee based projects that we involve our industry with. A good example is a map that we might produce and sell advertising on to offset the costs of the printing.
Are you a membership organization?
No. When Ontario County Four Seasons Local Development Corporation was founded by Ontario County in 1984, it was determined that this should not be a membership organization primarily for three reasons. First, there was a desire not to compete for members with other existing member organizations like the local chambers of commerce. Secondly, it was decided that the most effective way to promote tourism was to not have to restrict promotions to those who were members. Third, it was felt that "drumming up membership" would dilute the efforts of the staff to "drum up tourists" to come to the area.
Are you a part of Ontario County government?
When the organization was established, the initiative came from Ontario County to establish an organization to focus on the promotion of tourism as an economic development tool for Ontario County. However, it was felt that it was best to have the organization established "outside" of the county government. Therefore, it was established as a 501 c3 local development corporation with a private board of directors. This board of directors is, however, approved and appointed by the Ontario County Board of Supervisors.
What is most effective in bringing visitors to Ontario County?
Although visitor services has changed over the years, the main things we employ to bring visitors to the county would be: creating an aspirational location through digital marketing, particularly social media; production of printed materials, including visitor guides and other niche publication; creating and cultivating unique and effective intercounty (and surrounding area) partnerships and also staying up on industry trends through media pitches and other public relations materials.
Do you give out matching funds?
No. We do receive an annual grant from the State of New York – I Love New York for the purposes of promotion. We match that grant in full in order to produce materials that "display" the entire county. Most of the grant money goes to: internet marketing, trade show and personal sales, and publication development. That money is also used to respond to consumer inquiries through the 877 # and other lead generation.
Do you have a strategic plan?
Yes. Tourism is big business in Ontario County, and just as any business does we have a focus on key objectives that will help us achieve our goals of heads in beds – and revenue generation for Ontario County. We are actually on our third strategic plan and the copy of the current one is located within this industry site.
How do I get involved with your organization?
Let us know that you want to get involved. We have some committees that work collectively toward our strategic objectives. This is a great way to get involved initially. Another way is to simply make sure you're on our mailing list and you respond to all the opportunities that we offer. You're on this partner's site, so this is a great start for involvement.
How big is your staff?
Currently we employ six full-time staff members. In addition to the president and her assistant, we have employees working in marketing, communications, public relations, partner relations, research and visitor services. We are proud that over the years we have helped teach people about our industry and have had interns from more than 12 colleges.
Why are you called Finger Lakes Visitors Connection when you actually represent Ontario County?
Our original name was Ontario County Four Seasons Local Development Corporation. That remains our legal name. However that name was very difficult for the potential visitors to understand. We changed our name to reflect that we were the tourism business, and used the name, Ontario County Tourism Bureau. This name worked very well for us, until the use of the internet expanded for consumer searching out information on an area using the keyword function. We were nowhere to be found in searching the internet. And, while our local people knew how to get us, our key audience could not find us using this new technology. We had to decide how to position ourselves so that the consumer could understand who we were and what services we perform. After a great deal of investigation, brainstorming, and group discussion, we adopted the name, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. Using this name, we have risen to the top of many of the search engines and media contact lists. This position is important to us. Although some people think from this name that we represent the whole region, we try to first help the consumer get the information they want, no matter where that is in the region and refer them to the best possible resources as necessary. Most people, however are happy to have found us so quickly, and we believe that our service model is commendable in helping the consumer receive the information they need on both Ontario County and the Finger Lakes Region.
Is there duplication for what you do and for what the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance or the local chambers do?
Generally no. Tourism marketing is a complex system that requires many different levels of consumer contact. We think it works most efficiently within the inverted pyramid model. In other words, I Love NY is responsible for getting people aware of and interested in visiting New York State. The next level of the pyramid should bring them to the Finger Lakes Region – that is the job of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance (to whom we pay dues and program fees to promote Ontario County.) Basically, the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance promotes the fourteen counties of the Finger Lakes Region in tandem and in ways that we cannot do on our own. They help us to form flexible partnerships to achieve our marketing goals. If people are interested in the Finger Lakes Region, we work hard to ensure that Ontario County and its communities and attractions are the places of choice to visit. We work with the next level of the pyramid – the communities. Chambers of Commerce groups, business improvement groups, and the like all have a role to play to make sure that their constituency is profiled for the potential visitors. The last part of the pyramid is the actual hosting facility. Whether it is an attraction or a hotel or a visitor center, they are an important cog in the marketing mix. While to an outsider, unfamiliar with marketing in tourism this may seem like duplication, it is not, as long as there is agreement on markets and distribution systems. Communication and cooperation are key to making this system work!