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Bree Nidds: Answering the Tourism Call

Bree Nidds - Discover Lehigh Valley

Episode 48

“It’s just super cool to see the hard work that you all put into really, you’re the boots on the ground hosting that event it’s directly reflected in an economic impact on Lehigh Valley.”

Curious how events like national championships happen? That’s one of the many topics covered in this week’s pod with Joan and guest Bree Nidds of Discover Lehigh Valley. Joan and Bree highlight the importance of a good relationship between a venue/sport and the local tourism board and sports commission, the challenges of tourism in a pandemic, and how you can bring events you are passionate about to the area.

Bree Nidds - Discover Lehigh Valley
Bree Nidds – Discover Lehigh Valley

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Thanks to B Braun Medical Inc. for sponsoring the Talk of the T-Town Podcast. BBraun is a global leader in infusion therapy and pain management, B Braun develops, manufactures and markets innovative medical products to the healthcare community. They are also strong believers in supporting the quality of life in the communities where their employees work and live.

Transcript

Joan Hanscom:

Welcome to the talk of the T-Town podcast, where we discuss all things, track cycling. Broadcasting from the Valley Preferred Cycling Center, I’m your host and executive director, Joan Hanscom. Welcome to this week’s talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscom. Joined by my co-host Maura Buettel. And today we have a very fun guest a person who I’ve enjoyed working with tremendously. We have Bree Nidds joining us from Discover Lehigh Valley. And you may ask why do we have somebody from Discover Lehigh Valley on a track podcast? And that’s because Discover Lehigh Valley and Bree are an incredibly important partner in what we do. And so we wanted to take you inside how things work with your local CVB sports commission, tourism board and hopefully it’s some interesting insights. So Bree, welcome to the podcast.

Bree Nidds:

Well, thanks Joan. I’m glad you introduced me as a fun guest because I feel like you all are fun hosts, so I’m happy to be here.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, we certainly try to be fun hosts, but sometimes we go on a weird tangent, but hopefully not today. So Bree, as we said, in the introduction, you are the vice president of sales for Discover Lehigh Valley, which is a very big title for a person so young as yourself, for our listeners, Bree was named 20 in the 20s by the Professional Convention Management Association in October of 2020, which is an impressive recognition. So Bree, you are a mover and shaker in the tourism space, which is pretty cool for your career trajectory.

Bree Nidds:

You’ve done your research Joan. I like it.

Joan Hanscom:

Always.

Bree Nidds:

Okay.

Joan Hanscom:

Oh, but I just think it’s cool. And I think that we have a tendency here on the pod to try to elevate our female guests and highlight women who are doing cool things, whether it be in coaching or racing or in your case tourism. So yeah, we want to-

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, if I’m not mistaken a couple years ago, I think maybe back in 2019, you and I were recognized by sports events magazine for maybe it was women to watch or people to watch in the sports events industry. And I thought it was really cool that we were both kind of side by side and the same destination you being the venue and me being on the destination side of things. And so, yeah, accolade it’s all around, but I can kind of give an overview of what I do at Discover Lehigh Valley. If you’d like to hear that.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes.

Bree Nidds:

Okay, cool.

Joan Hanscom:

I would love, and I’d love our guests to understand it. And so for everybody listening before Bree gets started, this is a little bit of inside baseball, but it really provides the context or understanding for how the events that you like to race come about to happening, things like national championships, how they come about. And that’s why this is important for you all to understand, because then you can support organizations like this, where you’re from and, or work with them where your venues are located. So Bree take it away. What do you do?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, sure. So I oversee our general strategy for booking meetings, conferences, new festivals, sporting events and the capacity that. We work in together is mostly on the sporting events side of things. I also oversee the certified tourism ambassador program that Discover Lehigh Valley started in partnership with our community college hospitality program a year ago. So that kind of falls under our umbrella, but really what I like to do and what Discover Lehigh Valley is out to do is to enhance strengthen Lehigh Valley’s economy through visitors. So in my specific role, I do all of that, but we focus on groups. So think 10 or more people that would come into Lehigh Valley, that’s kind of what I’m charged with and we’ve worked together in a few different capacities, you with Discover Lehigh Valley, but most recognizable are some of these championship events that we’ve hosted here recently.

Bree Nidds:

And a lot of that was of course made possible by you and the venue, but I think our synergy together that we were able to showcase that the Lehigh Valley is truly a destination that welcome cyclists, especially in the niche that is track cycling. So when I was actually doing our year in review of just 2021, I’m like, “Man, we had a big year of cycling” and a lot of that was events that through USA cycling the elite, what did we host? Junior, elite-

Joan Hanscom:

Junior are masters.

Bree Nidds:

All the things.

Maura Buettel:

All the things.

Bree Nidds:

So, and then that is reflective of when we look at our kind of some measures of success that we have at Discover Lehigh Valley occupancy, how many people are coming in and staying in our hotel rooms, what are they paying each night, how many stay in, and so when I kind of crossed reference the events that took place in July, we hosted NAS as well as September. There’s a direct correlation to what our bump in occupancy looked like. And it’s just super cool to see the hard work that you all put into really, you’re the boots on the ground hosting that event it’s directly reflected in an economic impact on Lehigh Valley. So yeah, that’s in a nutshell.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I think that that’s so important for the cycling community to understand, that these events are made possible through these types of partnerships. I mean, obviously you supported our bids for the national championships which is how those things work, right? We have to have a… The way the bidding process works is that we have to have the local organizing committee, which is typically the sports commission, the CVB, the tourism board, that’s typically who does these bids and we did them in partnership. But for folks who understand, like there are no national championships happening pretty much anywhere without a partner like Discover Lehigh Valley. And it’s really a key… It helps with funding, but it also helps just with our ability to earn the bid and part of what these bid packages include. And I think there’s a lot of mystery around this, in the cycling community, and you hear it all the time “Oh, why are they going back to winter park for mountain bike nationals?”

Joan Hanscom:

Well, really how this whole thing works to demystify for our listeners is that the governing body puts out a bid document. And then typically it’s organizations like yours, that whether it be at a convention or via online sees these bids, collects these bids and say, “Which ones of these is correct for our destination.” Then the organization like yours, like Discover Lehigh Valley contacts a venue like ours and says, “Hey, should we bid on this event?” And then we do this in partnership. And then ideally, if your bid is strong enough, you are awarded the event. But I think people just think that the national governing body just selects a place. “Oh, we’re just going to go there again.”

Joan Hanscom:

And it’s not really how it works. It really works with the importance of having this organization like Discover Lehigh Valley, wanting to host and wanting to have that event come to their community. And it comes with things like, “Hey, we have to have X amount of hotel rooms available. We have to have X amount of support.” And unless communities come forward with that kind of support, the federations, don’t bring the event to that region. So I really want people to understand that because it’s a process and it’s a process that sometimes the Federation gets bashed about like, “Well, they’re going back to Albuquerque” or something and really if nobody else wanted to host the event, then yeah, they’re going back to Albuquerque because that’s where the tourism board decided they wanted to actually welcome the event.

Joan Hanscom:

And in my experience of event, production events only work if you have a strong partnership with your local community. And I think that’s when events really gain traction, when they have longevity, when the sport gains traction, and one of the coolest things I think about you and Discover Lehigh Valley, and your boss, Alex as well, is that you all really do value cycling events. Not just the track cycling, but you really expressed interest and willingness to work with the cycling community more broadly. So next year we’re working with the Hincapie Gran Fondo bringing that event to the track. You are really a pivotal partner in the new Eastern Crit. So you all get the value of cycling and for the people of us who are in the little niche sport, we appreciate that you value our sport.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And just going back a little Joan, like the destination has to want to host that event. And I think that’s why even USA cycling, they want to see that the destination puts a high emphasis on the cycling community, in their destination. And that’s something that I feel proud of that the Lehigh Valley does. And I want to perpetuate that message forward to not only USA cycling, but like you were talking about this new event, the Gran Fondo Hincapie. When that came across my opportunity desk, if you will, I first said, “Let me talk to our cycling community and see if this is the right fit for our destination.” All I needed was your endorsement to say, “Yes, let’s go after this. Let’s do it.” And then we partnership again, did it again, and submitted a proposal for that.

Bree Nidds:

And it’s all worked out but I think just the piece I also want folks to understand is while I love booking events and seeing new visitors, cyclists come into the destination, it’s more so about how do I say this, showcasing the destination sometimes for the first time to people and hoping that they come back, do they come back for maybe it’s the same event next year, or maybe it’s another event that’s outside, it’s in a completely different discipline or it’s for a festival or they’re they want to comment explore some of the colleges and universities that are here. So 2020 was a really interesting pivotal year for us. And we just had new research that we came across and invested in just to know what our destination is like.

Bree Nidds:

And majority of the people that come to the Lehigh Valley, they are repeat visitors. I think it’s somewhere close to 80% of the people that come to the Lehigh Valley have been here before. So events are a great way for us to introduce new people to Lehigh Valley. So a lot of what we do together at the velodrome is I like to welcome new people here so that they hopefully will come back.

Joan Hanscom:

Absolutely. And I think that the that events are such an amazing way to do that. And whether you are doing marketing your destination or whether you’re marketing a thing, right? You’re marketing a product that bringing people together is sort of a magical thing. And yeah, I think it’s so powerful. And I do think we’ve already started to hear from folks who are going to be new visitors to the Lehigh Valley next summer for the Fondo we’ve heard from people who are going to be coming from Texas, coming from Louisiana more. And I went down and did the Hincapie event in South Carolina. We couldn’t believe the number of Hincapie participants who were already completely stoked to come to the Lehigh Valley for a new event.

Bree Nidds:

I checked the registration number, so they got close to 600 people registered and we’re over six months out.

Joan Hanscom:

[crosstalk 00:12:36] months away. Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

So it’s super cool. And I love that we have the runway to promote, then not only the event, and what’s going to take place there at the velodrome in all of our surrounding beautiful roads. But what other things people can engage in while they’re here, extent their stay and really make it a destination event.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And I’m really hopeful that folks are going to come and they’re going to ride, and they’re going to see just how tremendous the roads are around the velodrome, and just want to come back and do more bike tourism in in our region. And hopefully that means they’ll come to the track and do some spectating at the velodrome, and they’ll go out and have some good dinners at some of the Lehigh Valley, good restaurants, maybe go to a winery or a brewery and just really get the full flavor of the place. But yeah, I think it’s an incredibly powerful partnership for cycling to partner with your tourism board, because there’s better way to really see a region than by bike, in my opinion. So I think to have a partnership that really showcases the beauty of the region, which is usually what you see by bike, because nobody really is like, “Hey, let’s go for an ugly bike ride.”

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. Right.

Joan Hanscom:

It’s such a perfect way to showcase your areas by a bike and particularly blessed with beautiful roads.

Bree Nidds:

Oh definitely. And I was actually driving out and was passing the Rodale Institute not too long ago. And I know you’ve done a lot of work with them and with us, and we’re trying to really synergize the whole farm cycling destination aspect, just highlighting that. It’s such a unique thing that we have here. So again, with those folks coming in on for the Fondo, I hope they can then experience some of that. But two folds our mission, I mentioned it before is strengthen Lehigh Valley’s economy. The other piece is we want to enhance regional pride and having the venue like yours, having your enthusiasm and passion of your entire team, the events and then what you do in programming throughout the summer it gets our locals, our residents, more excited about what the Lehigh Valley has to offer and the best referral for a visitor or new visitor coming in is when someone who lives here loves what we have to offer.

Bree Nidds:

So I think it’s just another thing that we can be proud of that we have here, that we have some of these marque events here that then just helps us perpetuate our message of, “Hey, Lehigh Valley. It’s a great place to live, but come and visit us. It’s a great place to come and visit too.” So I just love that and the work that we’ve done together on all fronts.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. And from the events perspective, from our side, we at the Box Office every week we would talk to the people as they come into the Box Office. And typically it’s a very conversational thing at our Box Office, right? It’s not like going to a Philadelphia flyers game where you’re just like a number punched through the window. It’s pretty conversational at our ticket window. And when new people come a window, our ticket booth people pretty much know it and, or they have questions because it’s their first time. And that always seems to come up. And we started collecting numbers every week. And we’d ask the new people where, how did you find out about us? And it was always through Discover Lehigh Valley, which I think is also important for the cycling community to understand one of the things cycling struggles with is talking outside their own ecosystem, right?

Joan Hanscom:

We consistently talk to the base, right? We always talk to the people who are already the converted. And we always wonder, how do we bring new eyeballs to our sport? How do we bring new walls to our venue, our event? And we saw measurably, demonstrable, actual, real numbers saying that we brought new people to the venue every Friday because of our partnership with you guys. And that’s powerful because that’s hard to do these days, right? Cycling is pretty siloed, like I said, it’s hard to talk outside the ecosystem, but if we can find a way to punch through that, to your point it really helps the sport grow or stay relevant.

Joan Hanscom:

So it incredibly valuable partnership with you all and from both sides, right? I think that’s the key and I just want to keep encouraging folks who are working in this space outside of the Lehigh Valley to find their Bree, right? Find their person in their community that can help them. And you guys, I mean, you work with the cycle cross events, like you guys don’t just work with us, you work with promoters across the State.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And it’s generally every disciplinary, I think about mountain biking, cycle across and cycle across the crit and track. It’s like, goodness, we’ve got, and now we’re doing this Fondo it’s like, we’ve got nearly every discipline. So it’s not-

Joan Hanscom:

It’s fun.

Bree Nidds:

… it’s fun that it’s not just one thing that we can really say cycling and then it’s it kind of it’s everything. And then just our amazing trail systems that we have with the DNL trail. It helps bring folks who are more of those recreational cyclists kind of into the fold, what you do with your programming to welcome folks who maybe don’t ride bikes on the regular, you have ways to get them introduced to the sport. So there’s all types of little feeder programs that really fit us nicely into this cycling destination category.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. So that’s all the shop talk, right? We’ve jumped right into the deep end of the shop talk, but I want to take a step back and talk a little bit more about Bree because you were in Roanoke before you were here and you were in a similar role, not the same role, but similar.

Bree Nidds:

Sort of.

Joan Hanscom:

And you were you focused on cycling there as well.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, you would think that I, myself am a cyclist for, with all the passions that I have in cycling and my previous destinations, but I’m very amateur when it comes to cycling. But yes, I worked at Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge which was based out of Roanoke, Virginia. We represented five jurisdictions so much like the Lehigh Valley. We were a regional destination with that being said during my time there, as a destination were able to get the IMBA silver ride center designation that’s through the International Mountain Bicycling Association. So we really staked our claim that we are a mountain biking destination on the East Coast. And we really wanted to bring all of, all of again like new visitors, new eyes new people to come and experience the destination. And we worked closely with economic development there to host cycle cross events, a pretty marque cycle event there called, go cross.

Bree Nidds:

So it, yes, cycling has been kind of a focus of mine because I’ve seen how it not only impacts on the tourism front, but when you look at the entire destination as a whole it just amplifies the quality of life that exists in any given area. So focus on that there, and then prior to my time at Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, there I focused just on sports. So as the director of sports development there, I was in wiling to North Carolina beach destination. So you won’t get too many mountain bike trails there it’s a little flatter, but yeah, so there, I also focus on sports and dabbled in a few other tourism related things

Joan Hanscom:

Speaking of beach destinations, this was a fun fact when I was, you know you always do your research on people before they come on your podcast, even though you and I know each other, you always want to, you want to dig a little bit and what I didn’t realize Bree was that you went to college in Hawaii. And-

Bree Nidds:

I did.

Joan Hanscom:

… you were on the sailing team.

Bree Nidds:

Yes, to those.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s cool [crosstalk 00:21:12]. That’s so cool. Tell us about that.

Bree Nidds:

You know, Joan, I think that’s where, whether I knew it or not, that’s where my career in tourism started going to college in Hawaii. That State is a tourism destination. It’s almost like the epitome of tourism for our country.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

And so as I went to school there and moved back to North Carolina where I’m originally from, it just became a part of my narrative. And so then when I randomly applied for a tourism job, it just fit so nicely in that people are like, “Oh, well you lived in a tourism destination and you…” Yeah. So it was really cool in that aspect. And I loved that I was able to kind of piece that into my personal narrative, but yeah, that was such, such a great experience and yeah, great time there.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, you got a little sparkle in your eye, just talking about it.

Bree Nidds:

Oh, yeah, we’re sitting in the middle of winter and so. I’m like, yeah, I love that tropical climate.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. Hawaii was pretty great. Did you still do you still sail?

Bree Nidds:

I had boat in Virginia down in Roanoke. I sailboat definitely a fixer upper. So that was a fun, I say fun loosely, that was a fun project to have. I don’t sail as often as I would like. Now I am very, yeah, just the power of wind energy is an incredible thing. So if sailing taught me anything, it’s that man, the wind can do some crazy things that can get you from point A to point B maybe with a few tax and jobs along the way, but you’ll eventually get there. But no, I haven’t done a whole lot of sailing here in the Lehigh Valley. I’ve just focused, it’s like my life I live in compartments. Sailing was a compartment of my life. It doesn’t mean I can’t revisit it.

Bree Nidds:

But now I’m more into running. I got into golf recently and so I’m sure I’ll be into those things for a couple of years and then I’ll move on and do something else and be focused personally on some other things. But yeah, collegiate sailing was definitely a great lead in to what I do on the regular now with sports, tourism and events, because I was a traveling athlete. So you got to experience a lot of different destinations and places which was awesome. It’s super cool. We were hopping on planes to go and sail and California and Texas and Florida and Annapolis. And so I was able to then understand firsthand when we’re welcoming in college teams for a variety of tournaments or events, like I know what they’re experiencing, when they go and what’s important to them. And a lot of it was where the nearest restaurants are to eat, every team must be fed. So it’s just understanding that. So again, when I talk about my personal narrative that fit into tourism really nicely just because I’m able to put myself in these traveling athletes, in their shoes.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, every traveling athlete wants to know where the food is. First and foremost, where’s the snacks, where do I go for food?

Maura Buettel:

Where’s the nearest Wegmans that I can go to.

Joan Hanscom:

Yes. So funny. So we’re going into year three of our pandemic which is so crazy to say. And tourism obviously was a chat during, or the ongoing is an ongoing challenge during COVID. And you guys had to get pretty creative on some stuff. And certainly economically it hurt everywhere, not just Lehigh Valley from a tourism perspective. Talk a little bit about out what you did during that time, because I think you started going to virtual trade shows, you started doing a whole bunch of stuff. And how did Discover Lehigh Valley sort of pivot through that time? I mean, not like, oh, staff reduction or whatever, but more like, how did you change your approach to managing time for the pandemic and where do you see that going right now? Because you and I are talking about events for next summer, different events not just the Hincapie event, but we’re looking at some other options as well which shall remain in the box until they have information. But how did you guys pivot? How did you guys respond?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. And just talking about the virtual thing for a second, that’s actually how we met the event organizers with Hincapie Gran Fondo is through a virtual event trade show that was powered through our relationship with the what we call, PA sports, which is our statewide sports tourism entity. So through them and our association and membership with them, we were able to get in front of these Hincapie folks, and that all came to fruition virtually, which was super cool. And that happened during the pandemic, which I thought was a nice refresher, goodness that gave me some optimism for the future for us. But certainly the Lehigh Valley, we did have some new research conducted for the year of 2020. And while you think like, 2020 is kind of a strange year to have research be done.

Bree Nidds:

It was pretty eye opening and really reaffirmed what we were doing at Discover Lehigh Valley and what our inklings were. And so it’s been known in the Lehigh Valley that people come in to visit with their friends and family. That’s always the top of the list of why people come to the Lehigh Valley. Second on that list back in 2018 was for special events. People came in either for an event at the velodrome or for music Fest or a litany of other things. Bacon Fest sounded Easton that in 2020, our research showed that, yes, people were still coming in to visit friends and family. But second to that now was outdoors. People were coming in to experience the outdoors. So Discover Lehigh Valley made not so much a pivot, but definitely brought to the higher surface that, “Hey, we have a lot of outdoor assets.”

Bree Nidds:

We have a lot of things that people can come into the Lehigh Valley and do safely. So we need to really double down on promotion of those things. So we really got into promoting all of our trail systems, our outdoors, our covered bridge, guided tours, the velodrome, anything outdoors that people could experience. And I definitely see that continuing as we move forward, I think outdoors is going to be, outdoor assets and things to do while also still having amenities in a destination is going to set places apart. There was this, definitely this sprawl early on in the pandemic where you had city folks, they kind of wanted to get out and got out in the sticks. So places maybe that didn’t have all of the amenities that city offers or Lehigh Valley, Allentown’s the third largest city in Pennsylvania.

Bree Nidds:

A lot of people don’t know that. So we actually have quite a few amenities that people can enjoy. And so I think the trend is going to move more. So now that things are opened back up, these city folks are not going to want to go as far out into the sticks as they did. They want to find a happy medium for visiting, for recreating. I mean, we’ve seen a lot of people move here. So I think the trend is going to be a destination like ours. That’s set up with a great balance of outdoors. We have events coming back now, plus we have amenities. It’s going to set us up for longevity of welcoming visitors, retaining visitors. So that’s kind of my prediction will continue to double down on those promotions of all of those assets and see what happens, I guess, is the main thing.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, we’re on that, see what happens. I think point in this journey that we’re on, but I do think you’re right. I think that people have rediscovered the value of the outdoor space and the value of fresh air. And it’s interesting because I recall being at meetings at Discover Lehigh Valley in 2019, where it was like, “Oh we don’t have a convention center. Is that a problem?” And now I think the last thing people want is to be in a big convention center with a gazillion people. And really it is the outdoor opportunities that are attractive to people right now. And whether that be the IronPigs for outdoor baseball or us at the velodrome, I do think that that mental shift has really taken hold and you see it in the bike industry, you still can’t buy a bike.

Joan Hanscom:

Now, a lot of that is supply chain driven, right? A lot of that is issues where the supply chain is so messed up that that bikes are hard to come by, but the fact that bikes are hard to come by, is a testament to the fact that for years bike shops had a backlog of inventory, they had bikes sitting in the stores that they couldn’t move and bike shops sold everything. And bike industry hadn’t been in a position to have to restock their stores from ceiling to floor in a long time and they found themselves in that position. And I think that just, and it was the same in all the outdoor industries. You couldn’t buy a paddle board, you couldn’t buy a tent, any of the outdoor toys that we all like to play with. You couldn’t get your hands on because everybody discovered doing outdoor stuff.

Bree Nidds:

They did. And even, I don’t want to berate you with statistics, but I’ve some fun ones that we have is that so many of the people that came in to experience if they brought their bike or just came to experience our trails or whatnot, that we saw a 20% increase just from our own State in Pennsylvania. And just going back who enhancing regional pride people realize they don’t need to travel. They don’t need to hop on a plane per se, to go and experience a destination or a great experience. So they kind of became tourists in their own backyard, which is cool. And hopefully then dovetails into folks coming back and taking pride and all of that stuff.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah. So I think for folks listening, who aren’t from the Lehigh Valley, but who are involved in our sport, what would your advice be if you’re an event director, or if you are a person who loves bike racing, you live somewhere else, what would your advice be to start a partnership with your local sports commission or your local tourism organization such is yours. I mean, I’ve done this for a long time, right? I’ve had really great partnerships with the folks at, the Louisville sports commission, I’ve worked really closely with the Philadelphia folks when I worked for that race, we worked with- Like you said, at the very top of this, so the destination has to want you, as a person in a different destination, how would you recommend they start approaching a partnership with their local organization?

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. If you are a passionate community member, if you run the chapter of your local Mount biking club, if you are like the Joan of your community and you run a venue, I would say, and this is how I view any visitor to the destination too. You have to see it and experience it to understand it and get it. I, myself come from a background of sporting events, so I just know the type of energy, excitement, and impact that they have on any given place. But my advice would be, if you are trying to tap into your CVB or destination management organization, simply invite a representative out to an event or out to one of your chapter meetings or out to the venue to see it, to experience it, treat them like they’re the visitor and that you want to show off what type of event… It’s not everyone comes from a background of sporting events.

Bree Nidds:

Some destinations are smaller, whether they don’t even have a sports wing, they don’t even have a salesperson-

Joan Hanscom:

Right.

Bree Nidds:

… or department like mine, so then find a person who you can then bring out and show them and walk them through. And then hopefully that will open their eyes a little bit more to what can exist, then you can start ideating together and then hopefully go in on like what we’ve done Joan, go in together to bid on opportunities. So even for the Lehigh Valley, if we can get people here on site visits, if we can get event organizers here, I mean, we keep referencing Hincapie but we got those folks here. They hopped on their bikes and rode around on our roads. And they said, these are like Belgian style roads.

Joan Hanscom:

Awesome.

Bree Nidds:

Now they can’t do that virtually. They can’t do that on Zoom. They had to be here to experience it.

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah.

Bree Nidds:

So I would say treat anyone you’re trying to influence to be on board to host an event or whatever treat them like, a client and show them the value. Do you agree? Does that kind of-

Joan Hanscom:

Yeah, a 100% and I think that’s how we’ve always done it. When we brought it to bring the cycle cross world championships to Louisville, Kentucky the first thing we did well, we didn’t initially to target Louisville. We said, what’s the right size market in the US to host a big cycling event because you have to sort of match your event to your destination, right? So we knew cycling, you don’t want to go into like the top five medium markets, right? Because if you go into New York city, your A, going to pay a billion dollars and B, you’re just going to be like a little tiny, like whisper in the back, right? You want to go into a market where you’re actually going to be the news, you’re going to be the focus, you’re going to be meaningful to that community.

Joan Hanscom:

So we said, all right, where is there a great cycle cost community? Okay. Ohio Valley, Louisville in particular has a great burgeoning, like blossoming cycle cross community. Let’s talk to their sports commission. And let’s see if this could work and it’s funny, like I had previously met the Louisville sports folks at one of the conventions that you were talking about. And we had been talking to them about a road event. So I had a contact at the sports commission in Louisville from talking to them about something else. And I was like, all right, I know these guys because of this road event, we tried to sell them on, let’s talk to them about cycle cross. They were like, “Yes, let’s tap this thing.” And then it became a four year partnership, really that it’s actually longer than four years.

Joan Hanscom:

It started in 2007 and culminated an event in 2013, but it was a partnership that we actively cultivated together and we traveled the world with those guys. We went over to Belgium with them. We showed them what the world championships was all about. We showed them what it could be and it was a true partnership. And so for folks who want to do a big event in their community, a bike event, whether it be a velodrome event, if you have a velodrome, or if it’s a road event, cross event, gravel event, I think that your point is absolutely correct. You have to cultivate that relationship and show them. You have to sort of smell them mud, as they say, you got to show the color and the pageantry and the excitement of the event. And there’s no better way to do that than in partnership.

Joan Hanscom:

So, yeah, I agree. It’s super important to have, just to establish a relationship based on like, “Oh, this is a right fit for us and we believe” right, that whole like, “We believe that we can do this here” is super important.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah.

Joan Hanscom:

And I think we certainly believed in all the national championships events we did last year, we knew that that was something that we could deliver on for you guys, really bringing people in. The Hincapie thing is a bit more fun in that it’s like new.

Bree Nidds:

Sort of.

Joan Hanscom:

But I think it’s going to be amazing. And we’re hoping to have Rich Hincapie come on the pod and talk about it too. We keep teasing this now on the podcast, because we’re so excited about it.

Bree Nidds:

Oh yeah. Good.

Joan Hanscom:

That’s [crosstalk 00:39:12] we’re going to get to have an event that finishes on velodrome with arguably the top American classics rider of all time, who always wanted to win a race that finished on of velodrome. How fun is that? So we’re pretty excited about that, but it wouldn’t have been possible without you guys.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, that was one of the, like if I could think of a pandemic win. And like that was one. That we really went after and I’m excited for June definitely. It’s again, next year’s going to be another busy year of cycling.

Joan Hanscom:

I thought you were going to see like we, Samoura, you rode the one with me down in South Carolina.

Bree Nidds:

Yes.

Joan Hanscom:

And we had so many conversations about because that one’s like, you climb a couple of big, long climbs and it’s nice right there. I mean, what the climbing is like there Bree, but so we were talking to folks about what the terrain is like here. And I don’t know. I had a fair number of people who are like, “Oh, it’s going to be flat. It’s not mountainous.” I’m like-

Bree Nidds:

No, no.

Joan Hanscom:

Okay. Good luck to you because while it doesn’t have long sustained climbs, the climbs that we have on this ride, I think are going to surprise people and I think they’re going to… It’s like you said, they like, “Oh, these are like Belgium roads.” And I think people are going to find that there’s some very Belgium climbs on this course, which is really exciting to showcase. So I don’t know, as a bike nerd, like I love the type of riding that happens in the Lehigh Valley. That’s really short, steep, mean, punchy things and I think people are going to be so excited about that event.

Bree Nidds:

Definitely, yeah. And maybe we’re not doing it just system when we say Lehigh Valley, because people think valley, oh, it’s flat and whatnot, but yeah. It’s cool. They just, I saw on their website, they had the kids out for it and the kids look super cool. So yeah, I’m excited as, yeah, definitely an understatement. That’ll be a great event.

Joan Hanscom:

I’m excited to see with what they do with the hospital around it too, because that’s such a huge component of that event. And so yeah, can’t wait to see, I can’t see what the final product looks like with them. It’s going to be really good. So we’ve talked about the Hincapie Fondo a whole lot and we’re coming up on the end of our time together, but Bree, before I let you go, I have one last question for you. And it’s because during COVID again, we’ll go back to that because I guess we’re still during COVID. But you became a virtual bartender. You made drinks online. So as we head into the holiday party season, I’m going to ask you one more wacky question. What’s your favorite drink to make and yeah. Your your favorite holiday cocktail from Bree the bartender.

Bree Nidds:

Wow. Bree the bartender. Yeah, I like it. Is it five o’clock yet? No, I’m just kidding.

Joan Hanscom:

Closer for you than for me.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah, I sometimes Joan, I think I missed my calling and I love mixing up a cocktail. It’s just fun. You can get creative with it, but I actually had friends giving a couple weeks ago and I made a specialty cocktail for friends giving. So this is their endorsement, not mine, that this is a really good cocktail. It’s actually called the Christmas city cocktail. The recipe itself comes from a gentleman who used to work at Emeril’s Chop House here in the Lehigh Valley. And it is composed of, I think it’s a bear of a drink just because you have to make a simple syrup and it tastes like Christmas in a comp a cup because of this simple syrup you make.

Bree Nidds:

And that’s the labor intensive part, cinnamon, cloves, allspice star andies, little bit of nutmeg rosemary and cranberry simple syrup. You cook all of that together. So that ha has to happen a day or two before your party. And then so that involves, then you add that with whiskey, grand marnier, some rosemary for a garnish little nutmeg on top, pour it over ice, and I tell you what that is my drink of choice for the holiday season.

Joan Hanscom:

All right. I think you’re going to have to send more of the recipe so we can put it in the show notes and we put it in as the Christmas cocktail in the show notes. Very timely. And yeah, so for our listeners who are looking for little holiday cheer, we’ll have Brees’ Christmas cocktail recipe for you and PS for the pro tip, you can buy a pre-made simple syrup and then you can do the cooking with the spices, probably a little easier is my-

Bree Nidds:

My simple syrup made maybe like three gallons of simple syrup.

Joan Hanscom:

Wow.

Bree Nidds:

So I actually gave, which was fun because then I gave it away as a parting gift [crosstalk 00:44:19] for guests as a little and jars, and they could take home some simple syrup. So that’s also an idea.

Joan Hanscom:

That is tremendous, because yeah, people will love it, they can go home and have more of your delicious cocktail.

Bree Nidds:

Indeed.

Joan Hanscom:

Well, that’s a very appropriate way to end the pod with some holiday cheer for everybody. So yeah, we’ve given you homework Bree, now you have to share your recipe.

Bree Nidds:

Will do.

Joan Hanscom:

And thank you so much for coming on the pod. I know again for our listeners, this is not the typical track talk. But I think it’s really important for folks in the cycling space to understand how to make cycling events happen, where they live and how to make them really work well. And maybe even to answer the mysterious question of how national championships end up where they end up, which maybe we did our friends at USA cycling a favor by explaining to folks how the process works so they can dodge some of the anger that they face occasionally. Thank you again and happy holidays Bree. If we don’t connect before I hope you have a great holiday season and yeah.

Bree Nidds:

Yeah. Happy, happy holidays guys. And thanks for the time today. Hopefully we debunked a few myths maybe, and hopefully folks learned a little something about where we’re coming from in the world of destination management and cycling. So looking forward to another year of great cycling events.

Joan Hanscom:

And looking forward bringing more folks to the Lehigh Valley. So this is been a talk of the T-Town podcast with our guests, Bree Nidds, look in the show notes for her recipe. And thank you as always for listening, leave us the thumbs up, the stars, the hearts, the likes, help us grow our pod listenership. And we wish you all a happy holiday season as well. Thank you for listening. This has been the talk of the T-Town podcast. I’m your host, Joan Hanscomb. Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode. Head over to our website at thevelodrome.com where you can check out the show notes and subscribe. So you’ll never miss an episode.