Experiences that Bring Customers Back!

We’ve heard from several communities across the commonwealth that improving downtown hospitality is a high priority in making their downtowns a destination! With help from the Virginia Tourism Corporation, DHCD has put together a series of 20 workshops across the state called Delivering Memorable Experiences Downtown, which aims to strengthen business hospitality to provide an experience that creates return customers and positive and proactive word-of-mouth.

Delivering the workshop is Virginia Tech associate professor and author, Dr. Vincent Magnini, who was recently ranked one of the top 12 most prolific hospitality researchers worldwide. Dr. Magnini has published six books and more than 150 articles and reports. His projects typically include destination marketing plans, economic impact analyses, feasibility studies and visitor satisfaction tracking. Before his career in academia, Dr. Magnini worked on management teams at Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton Garden branded hotels in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern regions of the U.S.

This training is designed specifically for business owners – restaurant, retail, service – there is something for everyone. Learn how to generate good buzz for your businesses!

Sign up for a workshop near you! Contact Jessica Hupp at Jessica.hupp@dhcd.virginia.gov or 804-371-7121 to register. Do not wait to reserve your seat for these one-time events!

August 6: Hopewell
August 14: Petersburg
August 15: Farmville
August 20: Waynesboro
August 21: Staunton
August 22: Winchester
August 23: Culpeper
August 29: Strasburg
September 11: Altavista
September 12: Pulaski
September 13: Lynchburg
September 14: Vinton
September 18: Cape Charles
September 19: Franklin
September 24: Gloucester

Mapmaker, mapmaker, make me a map

Maps make sense of the world around us.  They are both descriptive  (think of the elevated ridgelines of topographic maps) and prescriptive (the Google maps navigator telling you how to get from here to there). 

And they don’t always match reality.  As this Slate slideshow of strange maps demonstrates, maps may not fit so much into neat categories of right or wrong, but  they do shed some light on our perception and experience.  At right is one of the classics of perceived landscape, Saul Steinberg’s 1976 New Yorker cover, “View of the World from 9th Avenue.” 

Maps also tell stories. In The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, Reif Larsen’s recent novel of a boy cartographer who maps everything from the concentration of Chicago litter to the flight paths of bats above his family’s Montana Ranch, the maps show what exist and they propose what might. Spivet’s earliest vision is a six-year old’s map to God.

Maps can help you see your downtown anew, and  they can point to the vision of what it could be. Try it.

As a conversation starter at your next design committee meeting, consider doing a cognitive mapping exercise.  On blank sheets of paper, have each person draw a  mental map of their downtown— the buildings and streets as they experience them.  Then discuss them.  How are they different?  How are they alike?  How is a young person’s different from yours?  What places aren’t part of anyone’s downtown at the table?  Who else should be invited to draw their downtowns? Are their obvious natural districts? 

Your discussion is sure to be be rich and specific, and  best of all, fun.  Send us imagesof a map or two and we’ll share your results on the blog.