Updated: Apr 14, 2021
This is our first time making a Quarterly Report. Even though ASTC is an LLC, we are not in competition with others. Our legal structure does not require us to be transparent with stakeholders, but our value innovation prevents us from hiding information from others. ASTC becomes stronger when stakeholders better understand the atmospherics and economic development potential of tourism, particularly nature based tourism in our 5 state service area.
Our primary objective for 2021 is to network and develop our brand while making our 3 websites more robust,
ASTC Home. Appalachiastc.com
Touring Events & Activities. astctour.com
On Feb 15th, ASTC went public and sent out emails of our press release. We also started a Twitter campaign with about 5 tweets per day.
In short, ASTC is satisfied with how the first quarter went.
The big surprise was how much time and effort went into Twitter. It was easily half the week’s work. For zero down you can network and advertise with thousands of people from around the world.
It was disappointing to discover how hard it is to find tourism activities over the internet.
Big Stone Gap, VA had a ½ marathon in late March and we never knew it.
We see potential in becoming the one stop shop for the information to help tourists make more informed decisions. However, it may take a couple of years.
We’ve emailed, Zoomed, and chatted with several stakeholders. They have all helped us with our 2021 Goals. More detail will be provided as the year progresses, because our Hall of Fame runs from Jan-December.
Thanks to twitter, we started to look into travel agents in our Coal Country regions (KY, VA, Southwestern WV). We found that most travel agents focus on cruise ships and Disney trips. We may have a huge market failure with no global or even continental travel agencies sending tourists to Coal Country. And worst yet, there may not be any local Travel Agencies working from within our region to help tourists bring down barriers to planning their trip. ASTC wrote two Entrepreneur Incubator blogs that help fill this market failure. More below in our blogs.
We will continue to push the agenda that we are on the verge of a huge change in our Coal Country services area. Smith sees West Virginia 'on the cusp of greatness' with entrepreneurship.
“I’m not sure there will be a lot of change. There will be some where we’ve reduced hunting in the Gorge, but I think what the Park and Preserve does is really highlight the four most spectacular parts of the park,” Watts said.
Things are picking up steam with passenger rail to the NRV.
We have it listed on our Policy Issues page.
Recently REI began to only provide trip packages to the USA. They would like to create 12 more Adventure Centers. They already offer packages to the Smoky Mountains, but we would like to see more in the Coal Country areas of KY, VA, and WV.
We sent them an email on March 25th to gauge their interest, and never got a reply.
We were able to complete the ARC Envision Appalachia Strategic Planning Survey
Thanks to Twitter, ASTC has found many many stakeholders. We tried to get the most from twitter by creating lists and using them to help others make more informed decisions. Everyday we found a new organization to connect with, and every week we found a huge nugget to add to multiple topics on our stakeholder site. Almost weekly we created a new list.
The first zoom meeting was on March the 9th. No one was present.
The next Zoom meeting will be April 13th. We will discuss opportunities for the Outdoor Club at Virginia Tech and their academic programs that complement our mission and vision.
ASTC Community Service
No community projects performed. We were never asked to help out.
No Sponsors were created. No interest was shown.
ASTC Hall of Fame
There were a few stakeholders who reached out to ASTC! We have some good leads for the 2020 Hall of Fame!
No financial support was given.
New ASTC Contributors
New ASTC Interns
In late Feb ASTC created our Internship Program. No Interns.
New ASTC Volunteers
In mid March ASTC created our Volunteer Program. No Volunteers
None recommended to us.
None recommended to us.
ASTC’s 5 Goals for 2021
No submissions. We will send out weekly tweets on this Goal.
Help Facilitate a Regional Trail Crew/s:
Very early on, we were surprised to get feedback after emailing a few stakeholders. We actually got an online member from this goal.
Of course the best model we wish to replicate is the Konnarock Trail Crew.
We did find another model to follow in Washington State (The Washington Trails Association). Our problem is that KY, VA, and WV does not have an AmeriCorps program like the ones that are found out west. They have lots and lots of public domain land out west, but not that many people to work on the trails. They most likely have excellent volunteer onboarding. Our public domain land is not that vast, but we have the local people and 4 more months of weather to work in, but we can’t onboard volunteers.
Once we get stakeholders to shore up this market failure, we can better improve the outdoor experience for tourists and create more businesses who profit from improved and connected trails.
Until we have localities really go up to politicians and give it to them straight, this goal will languish for years to come. ASTC believes the best route to go is to motivate higher education to create certifications and even degree programs to talk to the politicians. We do this by tweeting about stories of how there will be hundreds of miles of trails built that need to be looked after by future Trail Coordinators and Crew Leaders.
No interest was shown here. We did keep improving the site and services provided. Even though we stated that we would focus on placing organizations and events in distressed areas first, during our Twitter campaign we followed and added organizations in “At Risk” and “Transitional” counties and areas because we did not want to have to go back and find these places later. Because of this our Twitter Lists are strong in NETN, NC, and the New River Gorge area of WV. These areas have taken to Twitter well. We hope that organizations in Coal Country will see this and get with the program. Again, Twitter is free.
In late March we reached out to West Virginia University because of their
They have three locations, one of which is Lewisburg. We received a friendly reply.
The Entrepreneur Incubator goal did not receive much attention after mid March. We did add organizations to the Twitter list and new organizations to the website from time to time.
We did not have anyone reach out to us for a free consultation.
Tourism and Social Media
We’ve found that flickr may not be the best platform for ASTC. We are unable to motivate others to share their photos that will help tourists with their trip planning. We may need to switch to Instagram. We would prefer not to because they are owned by FB.
We’ve found a lot of great YouTube videos which have very little reviews. This again is a market failure. Organizations are not adequately promoting these videos. Near the end of the quarter we put in some more work and found a video for nearly all of our 48 topics. We still need one for snowmobiles.
We picked up no new Subscribers to our channel. We are currently at 5.
Followers: We picked up 150 followers.
As mentioned in the opening, we were surprised how much opportunity there is with Twitter. We created many lists to help others.
But again, Organizations are not using Twitter to its fullest. There are many impressive stakeholder websites that accept donations and do not have a Twitter account set up for advertisement and it's free. And Twitter has been out for many years. Amazing.
We have thought about creating a FB account, but Twitter takes up so much time, and because we have a solid website with up to date calendars. Granted, the SEO improvements would be nice, plus we would better be able to keep up with tourism events & activities more, and have much more exposure.
We’ve created Tourism Events & Activities Monday (T.E.A.M.). Here we have at least 5 tweets for upcoming tourism events. We feel confident that in a year’s time we will be given emails and text messages from stakeholders about events because the information is still too hard to find on google. Sadly, organizations do not update their calendars and events pages. No app can fix that. Again, we never knew there was a ½ marathon in Big Stone Gap, VA and we spent hours just in VA looking for tourism events this first quarter. We found out from their news paper.
As mentioned above, we created two trip planning lists for tourists. One is for general information. The other is for local information, which has local hobbyists and stakeholders for tourists to connect with. As mentioned above, while finding organizations to place in these lists we started to get the impression that there is a huge market void in our Coal Country states. ASTC believes that many international and continental travelers would want to connect with the locals in our area, and we recommend an authentic experience where the tourists see the good with the bad. We hope to create a blog on this in the 2nd quarter.
We have produced 3 Entrepreneur Incubator Blogs, and 4 ASTC Blogs. We hope to create one blog a week for one of our five topics.
Entrepreneur Incubator Blogs
With each blog we increased the commitment and detail needed to create an organization. These blogs address the market failures in our service area, particularly Coal Country. In the second quarter of 2021 we will create a model to become an Outfitter Guide. Later we hope to write about the value innovation that encapsulates them all. Here the entrepreneur becomes a Travel Specialist to bring in tourists from all over the world.
Even though we picked up two online members, we do not have any activity in our forums.
No Groups were requested to be started.
We created several new topics to help Tourists make more informed decisions. Spa, Recreation Centers, Cabins, Science, and we added Writing to Arts/Crafts, and added Entertainment to Theater/Play. The interface of the site did not change. There were roughly 30+ calendar events created, with some put on different calendars, because they crossed topics.
As the weeks went by, we felt that something was off with the Stakeholder site. In mid March we overhauled it and created a 5th element, Policy. Like a keystone, it connects Business and Communities, with Nonprofits and Government. This site now properly complements the ASTC Home site and what we provide
Not having a brick and mortar office, the carbon footprint of ASTC is extremely low.
We created a Sustainable Tourism Twitter List to help stakeholders learn about the connection with the environment and tourism.
We also made tweets about helping out the environment.
As mentioned above, our biggest effort with this topic was working on our Entrepreneur Incubator goal.
We created a Management Consulting Twitter list to help others improve their organization.
We have promoted several organizations on twitter.
We wrote 3 blogs to help educate and motivate others to start up their own organization.
We created 5 Economic Development twitter lists to help others learn more about the potential for our region.
We created a Job listing link on our stakeholder site. There is much work to be done here.
We redesigned the stakeholder site and added a 5th category, Policy. Here we provide links to issues in our 5 state service region. A topic created was resources in order to help others learn more about the policy formation process. Also, we created a calendar page with meeting dates for stakeholders to go to events so their voices would be heard and they can network with others.
We did create a Volunteerism Twitter List.
The Twitter List, called Our Appalachian Region has picked up over 30 followers in the 1st quarter.
We created a Twitter List on nonprofits to help stakeholders better connect with an organization that they may want to get involved with.
We created a list on Community Foundations to help nonprofits and those thinking about starting a nonprofit better understand the resources available.
We wrote 4 ASTC blogs:
In the first 3 blogs we addressed how there will be new community members over the next 20 years, and we gave recommendations on how to best onboard these new stakeholders in order to best preserve the character of the community.
We are happy with the 1st Quarter. The Ship has been christened. She is still at the docks as more and more improvements happen daily. Many people are looking on and wondering what type of purpose the ship will have, after all there is not even a flag on the main mast yet.
If you need clarification or more information on a subject, please contact ASTC and we will try to help you.
Please consider joining the discussion in our ASTC Sub-Forum.
Appalachia Sustainable Tourism Collaboration, LLC