Tourism van hits the street to tout local attractions
Aaron Flaum/ NorwichBulletin.com
Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Membership Coordinator Angela Adams shows off the chamber’s new van at Howard T. Brown Memorial Park in downtown Norwich.
The Greater Norwich Area Chamber of Commerce is taking its brand to the people.
Two weeks ago at the Auto Show it sponsors, the Main Street organization unveiled a converted ambulance that it’s using as an informational kiosk to provide visitors with literature about tourist attractions and businesses within its 11-town region.
“We really want to take the chamber office on the road,” said Todd Postler, chairman of the chamber’s executive board of directors. “It’s an inexpensive opportunity for us and will support the area and its tourism.”
Officials have spent nearly a year working to bring the idea to fruition. It was first suggested by former Chamber CEO Ben Lathrop, and American Ambulance donated the chassis from a retired vehicle that was used as the van’s base.
In addition to being fully stocked with brochures and pamphlets, the van’s exterior features photographs of landmarks including Sprague’s Grist Mill, the Slater Museum in Norwich and Griswold’s Buttonwood Farms.
Each panel has an attached QR code that links to a town or business’s website to give users even more information.
“We’re going to bring it to as many things as we can, whatever we feel can help market our members and bring in new ones,” said Angela Adams, the chamber’s marketing and membership coordinator.
Ginger Morse, the chamber’s director of operations, said people have reacted well to the van.
“You drive it down the street and people think you’re going to come out the back with balloons. It’s been fantastic,” she said.
In addition to being present at the Sept. 21 ribbon-cutting of the 15th annual Connecticut Renaissance Faire at Dodd Stadium, the van transported the right leg of Benedict Arnold from the city’s waterfront to Leffingwell Inn that same day.
John Hansen III, owner of Norwich-based Camaro Signs, helped design the van and also wrapped it.
“It’s eye-catching, and people have to notice it and read it, so it serves a purpose,” he said. “Anytime you do anything like this, you’re hoping the exposure is going to be something that is beneficial to everybody.”
Postler said officials were careful to make sure images on the van were not limited just to Norwich.
“We wanted to make sure this van supported our mission of being an area chamber,” he said. “They’re not just Norwich pictures.”