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Discover Lehigh Valley Celebrates Accomplishments From a Challenging Year

By Colin McEvoy on November 11, 2020

Discover Lehigh Valley President & CEO Alex Michaels speaks via Zoom during the organization’s virtual annual meeting.

Despite limited resources and unprecedented challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, Discover Lehigh Valley reported that the Lehigh Valley ended the most recent fiscal year with a 62.8% hotel occupancy rate, the highest in the state of Pennsylvania.

“Our industry continues to face unprecedented challenges, but we expect to gradually recover and regain to the vibrancy we had been experiencing” before the pandemic, Discover Lehigh Valley President & CEO Alex Michaels said. “Discover Lehigh Valley surpassed critical organizational goals and our region continues to outperform at the state and national level.”

Discover Lehigh Valley held its annual meeting for the 2019-20 fiscal year virtually via Zoom on Nov. 10, discussing the organization’s and region’s major accomplishments in the past year, as well as destination marketing challenges facing the region during the COVID-19 crisis.

Michaels said he is particularly proud of the launch of Made Possible in Lehigh Valley, a marketing initiative led by an alliance consisting of DLV, the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), and the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Made Possible in Lehigh Valley seeks to promote awareness of the Lehigh Valley outside of the market, attract a skilled and vibrant workforce to the region, and show that Lehigh Valley is a great place to visit, work, live, and learn.

“This initiative perfectly combines our strengths to develop strategies and maximize our collective resources to market Lehigh Valley as an attractive place to visit, work, learn, and live,” Michaels said. “This alliance has endless opportunities, and we’re excited for future collaborations.”

The Discover Lehigh Valley’s annual report for the 2019-20 fiscal year can be viewed here, and an archived video of the virtual annual meeting can be viewed below:

The event featured keynote remarks from Bill Geist, Chief Instigator at DMOProz, a firm specializing in strategic planning, organizational advocacy, governance, marketing, and legislative issues for destination marketing organizations across the Americas.

“I’ve got to tell you, I’m really excited about the Made Possible alliance,” said Geist, who has worked with more than 200 destination marketing organizations from Alaska to Belize during his tenure with DMOProz since 1995.

“When I see what’s happening around the country, that’s what today’s consumer is looking for,” Geist said. “They’re looking for authentic. They’re looking for the makers. They’re looking for the co-creators. They’re looking for the artists and the artisans. That’s what people are looking for in their destinations.”

Geist also said Lehigh Valley’s 62.8% occupancy rate is particularly impressive under the current climate, and that he believes it is not only the highest in Pennsylvania, but among the highest in the country with the exception of top beach, coastal, and resort destinations.

“In the days ahead, I won’t say there won’t be any more dark days, because there probably will be, but research is showing that Americans are itching to get back on the road,” he said. “They can’t wait to return to Lehigh Valley. … After 8 months of not being able to experience anything, they can’t wait to experience something new.”

Also this past year, Discover Lehigh Valley launched the Certified Tourism Ambassador Program (CTA) in partnership with Northampton Community College. This industry-recognized certification was established to increase tourism by enhancing the visitor experience.

“Lehigh Valley now joins over 33 destinations and 17,000 current CTA’s in ensuring the consistent delivery of a positive destination experience,” Michael said.

Discover Lehigh Valley also completed the Destinations International Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP), a globally-recognized accreditation that defines quality and performance standards in destination marketing management.

“Achieving this accreditation demonstrates that we have developed strong strategies, policies, and procedures to safeguard the use of public dollars and that we follow industry best practices to assure our stakeholders that we are doing the right things, the right way,” Michaels said.

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