Sometimes statistics surprise me. I dont know why, but what has caught my attention today are the number of people who rely on word-of-mouth marketing to help them decide to travel to our area. According to the 2006 Leisure Travel Information Study, compiled by the Technical Assistance Center at SUNY Plattsburgh, 32% of the respondents to the study indicated that one of the reasons they inquired about the area was because someone told them about us. In addition, 68% indicated they had been here before. Thats huge. If anything, these two figures indicate the level of satisfaction the customer is receiving when they visit the area. Now, the mountains and lakes themselves are the draw nobody can contest that point. People come here for the great outdoors experience coupled with the small-town resort atmosphere. Pepper in all the great diversions like museums, shopping, and the Olympic Venues, the destination has a character all its own. In a way, its like great art you cant describe it, but you know it when you see it. For a destination, its more like you know it when you feel it. One thing that helps generate the feel-good quality of a destination is the people. Ive heard more than one visitor mention chatting with the person who sat beside them at dinner or lunch and how they got a sense of the community from that conversation. Its amazing to think that the person you are chatting with is responding to you as a person and at the same time they are linking that experience to the entire community. Thats powerful. We know that each one of these visitors is going home and telling folks about their trip, and out of next months visitors, somewhere around 32% of them, will have decided to take their trip because of what they heard. I dont know about you but that seems like an opportunity to me. I think Ill take an early lunch.