Lobby with the Big Boys

Did your tourism friendly candidate win yesterday? Were we tourism professionals as active in this past election as all other interested parties? All too often we leave it to the Chambers to host the candidate forums, to publish the candidate profiles and talk the issues that impact business. Then we wonder why our Representatives and business community doesn’t pay respect to the tourism industry. Health care, taxes and education impact tourism just as much as the manufacturing plant the Chamber represents.

November’s Five at 5 suggests actions to take today to make contact with that newly elected (or re-elected) legislator. Share with him/her the impact tourism has on his/her district and the key legislative issues before them this session:

* Invite him or her to lunch, breakfast, coffee, dessert… But don’t allow them occupy the conversation talking about the election. Make sure you stress your issues.
* Send a letter to him/her outlining your key initiatives. Don’t make it long. A simple “Congratulations. Please keep in mind how you can assist tourism”, will suit for now. Hit them with the meat later.
* Host a “sending off” reception. Be sure to include your board members and contacts through out the community’s tourism industry. Stress to them the importance of attendance! If the legislator attends a reception with five people, it won’t make a good impression on the industry.
* Schedule in your Outlook a reminder to call and schedule one of the first meetings with your legislator in his/her new office at the capital. You don’t have to be a registered lobbyist. You’re a constituent visiting your legislator.
* While you are contacting elected officials, drop a line to your city council members. When was the last time you talked one on one with them? They shouldn’t only hear from you at budget time.

When you do meet with the legislator, include something to show off the district (read – your attractions.) I have visited many offices and noticed they are proud to display a picture, poster or commemorative from their home. Marketing is marketing whether you get those impressions in the state capitol or DC.

(Originally posted November 2008)

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