Christine Barney|Feb 17, 2015

Ithaca is gorges. That’s been the tourism slogan for this beautiful area in New York’s Finger Lakes for many years. But today, marketers are saying “Ithaca is refreshingly honest and exceedingly smart.”

Bruce Stoff, director of Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau, is getting national attention from the likes of the TODAY Show on the Bureau’s decision to “surrender to winter.”

As reported in the Miami Herald, the website shows “Visit Ithaca” crossed out and an invitation to visit the Keys instead until things in Ithaca “thaw out.” The article lauds the area for truth in advertising.

While it should be a shame that truth is considered newsworthy, there is something refreshingly honest in telling it like it is. No one is surprised that it is exceedingly cold in Ithaca right now. What’s surprising is Ithica’s proactive acknowledgement that this winter stinks (unless you love snow activity) and to come back later when you can truly enjoy all they have to offer.

Their actions are akin to the “pardon our dust” signs you see in retail establishments undergoing renovation. Letting a customer know you are unable to deliver on the brand promise shows respect and commitment to delivering on the best customer experience. In our opinion, that makes the Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitors Bureau a Breakout Brand.

Breakout Brands not only put the customer first – they also communicate with soul. Breakout Brand research shows that 79 percent of consumers doubt at least some company claims, because companies exaggerate or abuse the truth. But when you see an organization communicate openly, you are more likely to trust future claims.

By the way, Ithaca really is gorges. I spent my college years there and loved the creative energy of this college town nestled in the hills of the Finger Lakes surrounded by wineries, waterfalls, and of course, gorges. It’s definitely worth the trip and if my marketing instincts are any good– this effort to genuinely connect with potential tourists will pay off for Ithaca come spring.


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