The Florida Scenic Highways Program (FSHP) was excited to host a Statewide Meeting on May 17, 2018!
The entire Florida Byway Community was invited, and we had 55 people attend, filling the main room at historic Hopkins Hall in charming Lake Helen, Florida. Lake Helen and nearby Cassadaga are two small towns located on the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor Scenic Byway whose slogan together is “where Mayberry meets the Twilight Zone”.
The group was welcomed by Jeff Caster, FSHP Coordinator, Lake Helen Mayor Daisy Raisler, D5 FDOT Scenic Highway Coordinator Claudia Calzaretta, D5 FDOT Director of Transportation Loreen Bobo, and Georgia Turner of West Volusia Tourism, who stood in for Cindy Sullivan to welcome us to the beautiful River of Lakes Heritage Corridor, playing a recent tourism video about the region.
The day was packed with presentations on many varied topics relative to Florida Scenic Highways, starting with a panel discussion on how to create Memorable Visitor Experiences. Each of four speakers gave an overview of a different aspect of visitor experience as it relates to the Florida Scenic Highways Program, with an audience question and answer session at the end.
The panel presentations began with an engaging and informative overview of Visit Florida’s current tourism statistics and strategy on enhancing visitor experience from Nelson Mongiovi, Marketing Officer of Visit Florida. Stephanie Liskey of the FSHP consultant team followed with tips for byway organizations on how to leverage web and social media using resources like the FSHP website and Visit Florida membership. Dani Anderson, Executive Director of Friends of A1A, discussed solutions their group is currently implementing, using a mobile app and wayfinding signage to draw visitors to locations of interest that they may have driven past otherwise. Wanda Maloney (FSHP consultant team) gave an overview of aspects to consider when developing items to support visitor experience, like online or printed maps. The panel then opened for questions from the group, and a lively and informative discussion followed.
Other presentations included:
Lois Bollenback, Executive Director of the River-to-Sea TPO, presenting about what an MPO is and how byways can connect with them.
Marti Miller of the Florida Forest Service, and member of the Big Bend Scenic Byway board, presented on universal accessibility on public lands, and how Big Bend SH implemented opportunities for people with disabilities to utilize amenities allowing access to the natural wonder of their region.
Wanda Maloney and Michael Palozzi of the FSHP consultant team facilitated a discussion of ways to combine membership engagement and recruitment for byway organizations.
Cathie Parrot, Chair of the J.C. Penney Memorial Scenic Highway spoke about how to develop persuasive grant applications, and this was followed by discussion of best practices and lessons learned with the audience.
Greg Gensheimer, Chair of Green Mountain Scenic Byway presented about developing partnerships that support byway organizations. He highlighted the efforts of Glenn Burns, the 2017 recipient of the Garry Balogh Inspiring Excellence award, in forging many of the successful partnerships Green Mountain formed with a wide array of players to make projects like the Scenic Overlook on the byway a reality.
Wayne Carter also presented on the theme of partnership, from his point of view as the chair of MainStreet DeLand, which won the best MainStreet award last year. Wayne pointed to a deep connection and trust between MainStreet, West Volusia Tourism, and local businesses as a secret to success. He put an emphasis on surrounding your organization with can-do, passionate people.
Georgia Turner of West Volusia Tourism presented on what she does to count heads in beds. DeLand, particularly has had tremendous cultural growth in the past decade. Both Wayne and Georgia have a strong relationship to the (River of Lakes) byway organization, and all three cross-promote the region.
Wanda Maloney presented on the development and implementation of a survey tool to help collect byway visitor data that would assist byway organizations with assessments of visitor experiences along their byways.
We enjoyed connecting and networking with the byway community in person, and we hope to hold more meetings in the future. A survey was sent out to all who attended to let us know if we are on the right track.
The Florida Scenic Highways Program is thankful to all who attended! We hope it helped spark new ideas for partnering, funding, and promotion of the Florida Scenic Highways collection!
PDF versions of the Presentations are available here: