DANVERS — Representatives of three prominent local companies — which you may not think are heavily impacted by tourism — spoke Friday about how they depend on the region’s thriving tourism economy.
Friday morning’s panel discussion in the ballroom of the DoubleTree hotel in Danvers, at the 14th annual North of Boston Tourism Summit, was led by Laura Swanson, the executive director of the Enterprise Center at Salem State University. Swanson took the B2B approach when it came to how businesses view the importance of tourism.
Local tourism helps retain workers, provides venues for meetings and gatherings, and teaches soft skills such as communication and customer service as workers move from tourism — which depends on many part-time workers — into new careers.
The panel was made up of Shari Hewson, project coordinator of the biotech company Cell Signaling Technology in Danvers and Beverly; Patricia Carroll, senior vice president of human resources for EBSCO Information Services of Ipswich; and Deanne Healey, vice president/marketing manager of Salem Five and the president of Peabody Main Streets.
Swanson asked these business professionals how their companies interact with the tourism industry on the North Shore.
Hewson said Cell Signaling is an international company with locations in the U.S., China, Japan and the Netherlands, and they use local hotels or tourism businesses.
Those employees from other countries are often looking for something to do, having heard about Salem and the North Shore’s beaches. She relies on her contact with Destination Salem’s Executive Director Kate Fox, who runs the city’s travel and tourism office.
Fox has introduced Hewson to Karen Scalia of Salem Food Tours to give workers from out of town a taste of the North Shore.
Hewson said the company’s chief digital officer “is very adamant about supporting local businesses, venues; I’m always looking at new venues.”
They have gone to Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, and the Danvers Historical Society’s Glen Magna Farms in Danvers is on her list. Another venue they are using is the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem.
Healey said you don’t always think of a bank as being involved in the tourism industry, “but we are certainly a consumer of tourism services.” The bank does sales incentive weekends, client receptions at local function facilities and it holds a Christmas party with 600 employees at the Danversport function facility in Danvers.
Salem Five also partners with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem to provide free passes for employees and customers.
On the issue of recruiting and retaining talent, Carroll (at EBSCO) said employee surveys show a link between job satisfaction and the environment.
“We find that, in Ipswich center, there is 1,200 people in Ipswich. They are always walking out, getting a local coffee or visiting trails and heritage sites, and it really builds camaraderie, and that results in higher retention rates,” she said.
Healey said the tourism industry, because it has a lot of part-time workers and provides entry-level jobs to high-school and college students, is a great way to train workers in the soft skills they need in other industries.
“It provides a great training skills background,” she said, “for industries like the banking industry. They come to work, they know how to handle cash. They have customer relations experience so they know how to interact with the general public, and those are all soft skills, not always easy to teach people, but they are easily transferable to other industries.”
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2534, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @TannerSalemNews. Find us at 300 Rosewood Drive, Suite 107, Danvers, Mass.