Our number one, top priority within the Mohawk Towpath National Scenic Byway corridor is to provide a positive visitor experience, period.
But how do we measure or quantify our successes? The designated route is along public roads that are open 24/7/365! Most of our historic features are along public highways or in, or along side the right-of-way. One such measure would be the number of hits on our website. That’s a start, but that’s only the visitors to our website. Intuitively visits to our website would reflect early curiosity or the number of people searching for a unique experience, not physical visits to the Byway. When we first set up the Byway’s website one of the concerns was that if we included too much information, too many pictures that would provide the whole experience and no one would try the real, authentic, visit.
I disagree. The more we can provide pictures of people enjoying the Byway and its many features the more we inspire the public to gain their own experience by physically visiting the Byway. My feeling is that use of our cell phone based self-guided tour is one of the best metrics of Byway visitation and experience.
Gathering information on visitors, not personal information, but number of calls to the self-guided tour are most helpful. Also the number of brochures that are picked up at various Byway locations are revealing.
The above data shows that visits almost doubled during the pandemic. People, including you and I, needed to get out of the house, but go where they were not exposed to others. A drive on the Mohawk Towpath Byway or visit one of our parks or historic sites was the perfect answer. Recent numbers are back, but not down to pre-COVID numbers. Perhaps return visits to the Byway and a greater digital marketing effort are definitely playing a role.
Also note that visitors don’t spend a lot of time on the page or listening to the entire narrative. If it is longer than 2 minutes they are gone to the next or are otherwise distracted.
For those of you who have used the self-guided tour service before, we will be adding new sites, new STOPs this spring along Erie Blvd. in Schenectady and in downtown Cohoes.