Finding New Visitors to 'Explore Bristol'
The local initiative hopes for a boost from exposure in national magazines and websites.
Bristol may not be completely done with winter, but the Explore Bristol effort is already looking ahead to tourist season.
Jeff Hirsh, owner of The Lobster Pot, recently traveled to New York for meetings with writers and editors of some of the major travel publications in the country in an effort to reach potential new visitors.
Explore Bristol organizer Michael Byrnes explained during a recent interview at Bristol Bagel Works that Hirsh's visit is a key milestone for the initiative, which is seeking to draw people within "a one gas tank drive from Bristol — and that includes Washington through Montreal."
The overal goal of Hirsh's visit, Byrnes said, was "positioning Bristol as that quintessential New England waterfront town steeped in history with a wide variety of cultural and natural resources — a lot of people weren't aware of it, and were looking for something a bit off the beaten track, not necessarily in Newport or Providence [and] who appreciated that we're between both of those places."
In an email, Hirsh noted that he met with writers from Food Arts Magazine, the New York Post, Conde Nast Traveler, Food and Wine Magazine, Veranda Magazine, and Family Travel Forum, a group of magazines and websites aimed at reaching families.
Those readers, Byrnes said, are "the target audience — people who will come down for a weekend or three or four days. We're [also] looking for the cultured traveler, the traveler who's looking to learn and experience something new."
Byrnes also explained that Explore Bristol is getting more local businesses involved with the effort so that a visitor experiences Bristol's feeling of community.
"One of the things people like is that Bristol is an authentic place — we don't want to destroy the feeling that this is a real living town, a working waterfront. That brings people to town," said Byrnes, who added the group is encouraging business owners to work together in sharing referrals. "That cross-marketing is really important — it makes you feel more at home, that you're in more of a family environment than a crisp business environment."
And as the larger effort for regional exposure continues, Explore Bristol's squad of volunteers is also keeping focus on building the local initiative.
"There's a lot going on — we're making progress, which I think is important," Byrnes said. "A lot of the merchants in town are now seeing how attractive the website is, and they're asking 'How do we get involved?'"
It all starts with listing the business on the Explore Bristol website, Byrnes added — www.explorebristolri.com — and getting involved with the community effort.
For more information, visit the website or email Alayne White at firstname.lastname@example.org