Coronavirus Important Updates
Seton Hill is partnering with an innovative tourism-marketing initiative to measure the impact of that initiative’s efforts. For two weekends in September 2008 16 Seton Hill students will be gathering information on the people attending three heritage festivals based in the Laurel Highlands.

This partnership is the latest development in a cooperative marketing venture that already embraces two counties, a tourism-promotion agency and four festivals, which merge resources to draw more visitors through a joint advertising campaign.

Combining funding from the tourism-grant programs of Somerset and Westmoreland counties and the Promotional Partnership Program of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau with their own funds, four heritage festivals are advertising “Heritage Festival Week in the Laurel Highlands” on television stations in the Pittsburgh and Altoona-Johnstown markets. The participating festivals are:

* Farmers and Threshermens Jubilee in New Centerville, September 3-7.

* Ligonier Highland Games Scottish Festival at Idlewild Park, September 6.

* Mountain Craft Days at the Somerset Historical Center, September 5-7.

* Stahlstown Flax Scutching Festival, September 13-14.

Because all four festivals usually fall around the same weekend – and jointly capture elements of the region’s past with demonstrations of antique equipment, historical crafts and vendors, quality entertainment and traditional foods – they started pooling advertising funds in 2006. This year their marketing program budget totals $11,500.

“The Laurel Highlands is very rich in historical and cultural attractions, none more prominent than the four festivals that make up the Laurel Highlands Heritage Week,” said Charles Fox, Chairman of the board of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau, the official tourism-promotion agency for Fayette, Somerset and Westmoreland Counties. “The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is proud to partner with them in promoting this year’s Heritage Festival Co-operative.”

The festivals’ desire to measure the results of their advertising efforts led to their partnership with Seton Hill. Following the lead of Mountain Craft Days – which captures the home-residence zip codes of everyone who comes through the gates then compares the results with areas where the festival advertised – the other festivals decided to capture zip code data as well but lack the volunteers to do so. Students taking a hospitality and tourism marketing class at Seton Hill will gather that data at the Farmers and Threshermens Jubilee, Ligonier Highland Games, and the Flax Scutching Festival. Then the students will analyze the data on behalf of each festival.

“They get a real-world experience,” said Dr. Daniel H. Bernstein, associate professor of hospitality and tourism at Seton Hill. “It’s a good partnership. It benefits both the festivals and the students.”

Dr. Bernstein also will be taking another “special topics” class to experience the festivals as examples of home-grown tourism attractions.