Fourteen women industry experts join forces to create an evergreen educational resource for innkeepers, farmers, winemakers, craft beverage producers and ag-related destinations to grow their businesses.
EscapeMaker.com, a guide to local farm, food and beverage getaways within a day’s drive or train ride from New York City since 2000, will offer the first-of-its-kind “Virtual Agritourism Conference” this spring on its B2B site.
The conference, presented by EscapeMaker and Fulton Stall Market, is not only the first digital conference focusing on the tourism and agriculture industries (agritourism), but also will be produced solely by women, 30% of whom are certified as an M/WBE (Minority Women-Owned Business Enterprise). Fourteen female industry experts will come together on one online platform to share insider tips, trends and best practices for preparing a business to capitalize on the rapidly changing travel landscape and to meet the demands of leisure, group, event and corporate travel markets.
The interest in agritourism travel, i.e. visits to farms, wineries, craft beverage trails, bed and breakfasts, harvest festivals, farm-to-table events, etc., has greatly increased in recent years in the NYC metro area and everywhere as people get more interested in where their food comes from, how it’s made and sharing authentic experiences outdoors with their friends and families. Based on a survey produced by EscapeMaker for GrowNYC-Greenmarket, many regional farmers and producers have PYO (Pick-Your-Own) operations or tasting rooms, but are still seeking education on marketing, event production, temporary on-site lodging, infrastructure improvements, insurance, liability risks, packaging and partnership opportunities, best practices in tourism and more.
“Whether you’re a farmer, a winemaker, a brewer, a bed and breakfast owner or a tourism promotion agency, there is more opportunity than ever to capture these evolving competitive travel markets,” says Caylin Sanders, Founder & CEO of EscapeMaker.com. “Our goal is to ensure these small agricultural businesses, producers and destination marketing organizations are armed with the education, know-how and savvy to survive and thrive in the changing landscape.”
With so many external factors affecting their bottom line from a hurricane decimating a farmer’s crop to a government shutdown delaying an FDA approval on a new label, it’s imperative that every farmer and producer diversify their income. “It’s exciting to share how we’ve been able to supplement our income through various cider and folk festivals to farm-to-table dinner pop-up events,” says Elizabeth Ryan, one of the conference speakers and a woman who has been farming for four decades and producing hard cider for ten.
Bob Lewis, Fulton Stall Market’s public market advisor and co-founder of Greenmarket 43 years ago, comments, “women food and farm entrepreneurs are the backbone of our operations and make up over 80% of the producers we have featured in the market. Supporting this virtual agritourism conference was a natural extension of our team’s commitment to their economic development.”
All of the women speakers are either farmers, producers, entrepreneurs or consultant experts in their respective fields. Each of them will share in the conference profits and/or promotion for their organizations. Sanders says, “A s we were reaching out to various topic experts, an all women lineup became apparent. We decided the best way to support women in this industry is by sharing in the profits and promotion — considering the gender pay gap in an industry whose workforce is now 50% women.”
Each of the 12 digital presentations is 25-55 minutes long and includes access to information on financing from Kiva.org, plus additional workshop downloads and links to more resources. All combined, the conference is 7+ hours of education.
Topics and speakers are as follows:
● Welcome & Introduction:
Caylin Sanders, Founder & CEO, EscapeMaker.com, Inc.
● Social Media for Food/Beverages/Farm on Instagram 101
Amelia Tarpey & Kathleen Ernsting, Social Media Managers, GrowNYC-Greenmarket
● Basics of Agritourism Legal, Liability & Insurance Risks:
Cari Rincker, Esq., Rincker Law, PLLC
● Rallying Your Resources for Group, Corporate & Motorcoach Business:
Jennifer Ackerson, CEO, ALON Marketing
● Farm, Winery & Craft Beverage Trail Overnight Packaging:
Debbie Meritsky, Innkeeper, The Black Sheep Inn
● Social Media & Storytelling for Destinations:
Danielle Gaebel, Owner, True Food Collective
● Using Public Transit to Fuel Your Marketing Strategy:
Donna Haynes, Asst. Director Promotional Partnerships, Metro-North Railroad
● Capturing the Eco-Traveler & Making Green On-Site Improvements:
Jennifer Woofter, CEO, Strategic Sustainability Consulting
● Craft Beverage Trail & Event Marketing:
Linda Pierro, President, Flint Media & Hudson Valley Wine Magazine
● Adding Lodging to Enhance the Agritourism Experience:
Erica Frenay, Farmer, Shelterbelt Farm
● Successful Tastings, Tours & Winery Events:
Chelsea Snider, Food Programming & Events Consultant, Tousey Winery
● Offering On-Site Classes & Public Workshops on the Farm:
Cheryl Rogowski, Farmer, Rogowski Farm
● Hosting Farm-to-Table & Cider Dinners:
Elizabeth Ryan, Farmer, Breezy Hill & Stone Ridge Orchards & Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider
Presented by EscapeMaker.com and Fulton Stall Market, the conference sponsors and partners include: Kiva.org, Edible Manhattan, The New York Apple Association, Heritage Radio Network, Metro-North Railroad and Women in Hospitality United, all of which are organizations with a commitment to the advancement of the food, farm, beverage and agritourism industries and their stakeholders.
The full virtual agritourism conference access-pass is available for purchase for $249 or 4 topics for $99.