A Destination Strategy
for Cordova, Alaska
- June - August, 2021
- Cordova Chamber of Commerce
Visitation to Alaska has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, putting the state’s $4.5 billion tourism economy in jeopardy. In the case of the city of Cordova, visitation had been declining even pre-pandemic, due to decreases in ferry and airline service, fewer cruise ships docking and the loss of access to the area’s signature attraction, Childs Glacier. Alaska’s governor directed federal American Recovery Plan Act funds to Alaskan communities in order to attract free and independent travelers to the state. In response, Cordova wanted to present a strong, community-driven strategy for attracting visitors, and they hired Crosscurrent Collective to help.
Looking at the big picture, Crosscurrent helped Cordova develop a comprehensive destination strategy. This comprised multiple essential pieces to guide strategic, collaborative action in the community: performing a destination scan, fostering community engagement to identify their goals, creating a roadmap guided by specific strategic focus areas, and forming a Destination Leadership Team.
Assessing the past and current status of an area’s tourism activity is critical to identifying critical leverage points across key organizations. Crosscurrent’s destination scan included reviewing local, regional and state plans and reports, to give the principal stakeholders a clear view of how numerous organizations’ efforts could align to uplift their tourism economy.
Even the best strategy will fail if it isn’t crafted directly by local stakeholders. The Crosscurrent team undertook a broad community engagement effort, using online technology to distribute two community surveys and perform key stakeholder interviews before facilitating two virtual planning workshops with the community.
Building on this foundation of insights from nearly 40 organizations, Crosscurrent worked directly and collaboratively with the Chamber of Commerce and community leaders from 14 organizations, from the regional economic development district to Alaska Airlines, to formulate a destination strategy. Together this group developed a 15-year vision narrative of what success will look like for the community, and identified important local values to maintain as they grow. In order to frame the crucial next steps, the team crafted four strategic impact areas and mapped out medium-and short-term outcome goals for each of these pathways. Within each pathway, participants also developed short-term activities and formulated “one big, bold idea”.
The final destination strategy included a roadmap of recommended actions, measures of success and potential program funding sources. Finally, Crosscurrent coached the collaborative on why and how to form and effectively deploy a Destination Leadership Team.
Crosscurrent’s efforts resulted in an innovative, community-led destination strategy that spans destination development, destination marketing, destination stewardship and destination management – one that will guide this small community for the foreseeable future.
In addition to the strategy itself, Crosscurrent provided the community with a “how-to” toolkit for kick-starting a Destination Leadership Team, including membership forms and agenda templates to guide the first several gatherings, as well as three months of coaching for the chamber to get started.
Dovetailing with the strategy planning, Crosscurrent also played a key role in developing a new marketing campaign for Cordova that was executed in summer 2021. Working with creative partners Curate and Spawn Ideas, the Crosscurrent team provided a destination management perspective as the “SEE Life” campaign was conceived, refined and delivered.
- Conducted research including surveys and one-on-one interviews
- Facilitated two virtual community workshops to foster cross-sector collaboration and develop key components of the overall strategy
- Developed a destination strategy that addresses destination development, destination marketing, destination stewardship and destination management
- Developed a toolkit for kick-starting a Destination Leadership Team
- Provided the client three months of coaching
- Along with project partners, presented the plan to the Chamber Board of Directors and the broader community
FOR FURTHER READING:
- Spawn Ideas
Crosscurrent makes the complex simple.
01Set Up a Discovery SessionContact us to schedule a free 30-minute discovery session.
02Create a Road MapTogether we’ll sketch a road map to get a feel for the investment required.
03Get to WorkOnce the road map is clear and the details agreed on, we’ll get right to work!