Keep Your Place Real
You have a vision for a more vibrant community, but don’t want to trade off the things that make it a great place to live and visit. Harbinger offers an integrated approach that is rooted in knowledge, committed to engagement, and aware of the nitty gritty work of building local economies. Over time, the work blends baseline assessments with original research to provide a solid foundation, engages key stakeholders and the broader community, takes an integrated approach to economic development that respects your surroundings, and builds in targeted support for local businesses and organizations.
Examples from our work
Integrating destination stewardship, development and identity & promotion
As defined by National Geographic 15 years ago, Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the distinctive geographical character of a place—its environment, heritage, aesthetics, culture, and the well-being of its residents. As a program framework, Geotourism is in equal measures collaborative content marketing, local engagement and appreciation building, stewardship and conservation, community building, and targeted support for local businesses and entrepreneurs
Since Harbinger’s first engagement with this approach—with National Geographic and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition around Yellowstone National Park—we have been convinced of its integrative power. Harbinger has been involved with several Geotourism initiatives, and with the evolution of the approach to incorporate more economic assessment, branding, and business and entrepreneur support. This work has taken us from southeast Montana to New York’s Harlem Valley and Genesee Valley to the Borrego Valley in the southern California desert.
Harbinger was in on the ground floor in building the Scenic Wild Delaware River Geotourism initiative with the National Parks Conservation Association. (See detail on the “Tell Your Story” page on this site.)
New Geotourism work along the Upper Texas Gulf Coast builds on a 2011 economic study (updated 2019) conducted for the National Parks Conservation Association and the Lone Star Coastal Alliance. The study examined the potential economic impacts of designating a new National Park Service national recreation area in the region, laying a foundation for a broad-based regional collaboration that is now taking shape.
Letchworth Gateway villages, New york
research support and geotourism coaching
In 2016-17 Harbinger worked with the Letchworth Gateway Villages initiative to help them understand how these communities could maximize economic opportunities related to Letchworth State Park’s visitor market. We worked together to collect data, conduct research and analysis to better understand the area’s visitor market, identify strategic market segments and the most promising tourism-related market opportunities that align with their regional strengths.
Harbinger advised on context-setting research, developed and assisted with analysis of a visitor survey, and co-authored a research findings and strategic insights report.
In 2018, Harbinger partnered with James Dion (Destination Solutions) to coach Letchworth Gateway Villages through the process of developing a Geotourism initiative. This collaboration formulated a strategic plan for the regional leadership group; worked together on branding; and advised on the development of a Genesee Valley online travel guide focused on providing an easy-access shared promotional platform for the area’s locally owned micro, small and medium-sized businesses and public and privately managed recreation, cultural, historic and culinary attractions and experiences.
Formative work with Tourism master plan citizens committee
In 2018, Harbinger worked with the newly comprised Whitefish Tourism Master Plan Steering Committee in its formative phase. We worked with the Whitefish Convention and Visitors Bureau and the City of Whitefish to help the committee identify priorities, do initial community outreach, design a community survey, and organize the work needed to research, compile, review and finalize the plan.
Key areas of concern for the committee guiding the development of a plan for sustainable tourism management in this booming town in northwest Montana included:
Understanding population composition in summer
Short term rentals vs. affordable housing
Jobs & economic resilience
Access and connectivity
Future challenges such as climate change, resource management and population growth
The plan is currently under development, slated for completion in fall 2019.