Winter Retreat at the Mountain View Grand

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJjDHLtE5cQ

The Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce had their strategic planning board meeting at the Mountain View Grand on January 11th and 12th. The Mountain View Grand Resort & Spa in Whitefield, NH is an elegant old hotel with nostalgia, charm, and all the modern amenities we come to expect.  Watch the video to take a quick tour, and be sure to check out the bathrooms!

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Chamber Tidbits….

I will be holding a Constant Contact Training Session and there is still room left!
Are you getting together your 2009 marketing plan and need some new ways to contact your customers? Sign up for a constant contact training and refresher session. Hosted by Kelly at the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber Office on Friday, January 9th, 2009 at 10 a.m.Prior to training you will need to create a Constant Contact account. Audience participation required so please bring a laptop if you have one.

Some of the topics covered will be:
*Introduction to Constant Contact
*Chamber Benefits when you join Constant Contact
*Email Marketing
*Reaching Your Customer with Your Service & Message

FMI call Kelly at 603-356-5701 ext. 301

Settlers’ Green Holiday Tree Festival

Saturday, December 6th marked the Settler’s Green 12th Annual Holiday Tree Festival.  This year the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce entered a tree into the tree decorating contest.  Watch the video, it’s really cute!  We got there early in the morning, on a freezing cold day, but the end result was great! On the red balls, we painted all the towns the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce represents, and on the silver balls we painted all the activities you can do here in the Mt. Washington Valley.  The tree came out great, and it just goes to show you in Mt. Washington Valley… anything is possible!

What’s happening in the regional real estate market…

With the stock market crashing around the world, banks going out of business on a weekly basis, money and the real estate market seemed to have dried up. Let’s look at the numbers instead of just listening to the hype. Here are the statistics comparing the year to date (Jan through Sept) in the Mount Washington Valley*:

Residential Properties

2007

2008

Change

# Sold

358

298

-17%

Sold Volume

$75,948,755

$56,362,151

-26%

Avg. Sold Price

$212,147

$189,135

-11%

Avg. Days on Market

149

201

35%

Despite all of these negative numbers, there is some good news. First time homebuyers can finally afford to purchase property, something that hasn’t been a possibility for the past 5 years, and buyers in all price ranges can get a really good deal. Sellers, on the other hand, will be able to make up for the loss on the selling side, when they get a fantastic price on the next home that they purchase.

If you do need to sell your home in the next 12 months, the most important thing to keep in mind is to price your home ahead of the market: the closer you are to market value, the more competitive your offers will be. If not, you will end up chasing the market down and always being a step behind. We can help you with this, as we are still doing what we have always done, and our sales volume has not dropped during this period.

Living and Working in Conway NH – A series – finale

Well, this week will be my last week with the Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce.   I will be heading south to be the Executive Director of the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce with offices located in Laconia and Franklin.  As some of my previous posts mentioned, I moved to West Ossipee at the end of June, so I will continue to commute from there to my new office location.

I spoke about owning your own business, but briefly touched upon other opportunities.  Working at the chamber is one, there are also many other non-profits to work for if you are interested in that avenue like Memorial Hospital.  The Mt Washington Valley Economic Counsel is at the new Tech Village and that has many high tech companies located within that people can work for along with Educational Opportunities.  Working at the outlets in a retail environment is another option; Settlers’ OVP and Settlers’ Crossing have many stores and opportunities.

If you are a teacher we have elementary and high schools to teach at; we also have manufacturing and service jobs.  Basically, there are many jobs available based on ones vocation.  If you are relocating from a larger city, you will find the pay scales to be different and you will need to be aware of that when looking for a position.  Then again, the housing and rental markets are different than the larger cities also.  Driving 20 – 40 minutes to get some where is not unheard of when you move to this area.

Many people relocate here for a quality of life change.  The natural beauty and outdoor activities draw people here from the southern cities.  Skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, skating, road biking, hiking, kayaking… the possibilities are endless and are up to you to decide on what will be your hobby or escape.

The Chamber has relocation packets available if you are interested in learning more about this great area to live and work.

Doug

Living and working in Conway NH – A series part 4

I joined the chamber as a staff member on February 1, 2005; I was working as many hours as possible while still running the inn as we had guests up to the second week in March.  In addition to these two jobs I was also coaching Girls Ice Hockey at Fryeburg Academy, things were busy for me, but that’s how I like it.

I remember an old TV ad where there is a man talking about the Hair Club for men and he uses the phrase, “I’m not just the President, but also a client”.  Well, there can be nothing more accurate for a statement that I could make, from being a business owner in the valley, I could talk to potential Chamber members and tell then honestly what being a Chamber member could do for them.  I was not just a staff member but also a past client / chamber member.

Through the years I have seen businesses succeed and fail in the valley.  I was a SCORE counselor and spoke with individuals who wanted to start up a business or buy an existing one; I must say this was an interesting experience, some had no idea what they were doing and others were exactly where they should have been and doing due diligence.  Some successful businesses I have seen start up or be purchased through the years when I was a SCORE counselor are the MET, The Inn at Jackson and Chef’s Market.  Each of these owners worked hard at a business plan and also at getting their businesses open and successful.  There are many resources in our valley to help people start a business; the Chamber, SCORE and Mt Washington Valley Economic Counsel are the top ones that come to mind.

NH is full of entrepenuers, do not be afraid to be one of them, but be prepared and do not take this task lightly.  Do your homework, talk to people in the field, do something that interests you, take a stand and work hard.  Best of luck to the future business owners.

My last post will be in the next week or so as I am leaving this Chamber to be the Executive Director of another Chamber in this wonderful state of NH.  I’ll talk about other opportunities for those that do not want to own a business.

Doug

Living and working in Conway NH – a series part 3

As we went along building the inn business and creating relationships in the valley, we met many great people.

Don Nicoletta and Evelyn Whelton from Northway Bank were our bankers and were a great help with to us as new business owners in the valley.  We found Pat Murphy from Apex Plumbing to be reliable and fair especially with an older home that needed major updating.  Another Pat Murphy, this one from Heartland Payment Systems was also great in setting up our charge machine and payment options for receipts.

I will tell anyone thinking about owning an inn to be realistic and not just think about “living the life” and having it be all fun and games.  My wife and I had spoken to someone back in Rockport, MA when we lived there who was an innkeeper and he was brutally honest with us.  We also read the book “So you want to be an Innkeeper” which provided great insight.  A normal day in the busy season for me was waking up before 6:00 am and going to bed at 12:00 am.  This is normal for an inn with business and only a husband and wife as a team taking care of the property.  In the off season you do get more rest and have time to yourself, but you always have your phone with you and never are really “away” from the inn.  When we did get away from the inn we loved to go to the Kanc and sit on a rock by the water or go to Cathedral Ledge and look out over our beautiful valley in which we live.

We closed our inn in March 2005 as my wife went back to teaching full time and I took my current position with the Chamber as Business Manager.  It was at this time that we could actually take a real vacation and went to New Orleans in April before Hurricane Katrina came in later that year.  We turned one of the large suites in the barn into an apartment and a year later we built out another apartment in the lower part of the old barn.  As it was, being a landlord was much easier than being an innkeeper and the money was consistent thanks to the great tenants we had during that time.

More to come on working at the Chamber and in Conway, NH.

“Beautiful Gay and Lesbian Civil Union Ceremonies”

I am a Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire and I can’t help but think how wonderful it is that New Hampshire Civil Unions Law gives same-sex couples the same rights, responsibilities and obligations as heterosexual married couples. As a gay or lesbian couple whether you desire a simple civil union affair for just the two of you or a large formal gathering for your family and friends, I would invite you to come celebrate your most memorable moment with us in the Mt. Washington Valley. Come and discover the breathtaking mountain views, beautiful wildlife, charm of our many villages and an almost limitless variety of shopping and things to see and do for you and your guests.

For your special event choose from one of our many beautiful hotels, charming inns, or gracious bed & breakfasts that offer the perfect setting for your dream civil union.

With the relatively minor requirements for getting married in New Hampshire, I know that your wedding will be intimate, relaxing, and a memorable event and both of you and your partner will want to return year after year to the Mt. Washington Valley to relive romantic memories.

Apple Picking

As a family traditon, every year in October we go apple picking.  This year was great!  We went with just the girls in my family, and my 1 year old niece went for the first time.  She was a great apple taster…and as we know, it is important to taste the apples from each tree before you start picking.  We all had a great time, and ended the day with making apple pies and homemade apple sauce…yum!  Check out my video from the orchard! Apple picking is a great way to take in the fall foliage, and a fun activity to do with the whole family.

Living and Working in Conway, NH – A series part 2

So we bought an inn that had no clientele, what to do?  First thing was to get our marketing going and make our website better, actually better is not the word, we had to create a site as the previous owners did not have one.

The valley we live in has many talented people and two of those are Stephen and Lisa Surrette of North Country Graphics who we went to for help in designing our website and marketing materials.  With their help we now had business cards, rack cards and a website that got rave reviews, .  Our website became so popular with search engines that by the time we closed our business in March 2005 we were being listed on the first page of Google.  I remember talking to Marti Mayne of Maynely Marketing 6 months after we had closed the business as she called me at the Chamber office to tell me she was doing a Google search and we were still coming up on the first page of Google.  We did so well with the web thanks to Lisa and Stephen but also due to some SEO tips I learned through the years.

The other way we improved upon the inn was using local knowledge by joining an inn association, of which there are two in Mt Washington Valley; Bed & Breakfasts Inn Mt Washington Valley and the Country Inns in the White Mountains.  It was by joining one of these that we became part of the Annual Cookie Tour and getting more exposure as we hosted a writer from a Boston Paper and got great press from that.  Also, by joining the association we met great people like Kevin Flynn who had owned an inn on Long Island and then moved to Snowville to operate a successful inn there also.  Others who were great resources were Bill and Lisa Guppy who owned an inn in Intervale and Mark Donaldson of the Darby Field Inn.  These long time innkeepers were a wonderful source of knowledge for fledgling innkeepers.

Stay tuned, more to follow….

Doug

Anything is Possible!

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