Editors Note: What does it mean when we say that someone is a “pillar of the community?” How you answer depends a lot on your experiences and intersections with the people who, in your mind, help support and strengthen the areas of local life that are most important to us. In this new series, we’ll surely tread some well worn paths in search of those personalities. We’ll blaze new trails looking for emerging leaders, as well as expand our vision of where to look for these pillars of our community. Know someone you think fills the bill? E-mail us.
When most of us Berkshires dwellers encourage friends to visit, we usually highlight the traveler’s trifecta of arts, culture, and outdoor recreation. But for Lindsey Schmid, tourism in the Berkshires is a lot more specific and varied. It’s about mindfulness and wellness. It’s about glamping and hotspots for watching wildlife. It’s the craft beverage trend, farm-to-table foods, and cannabis tours. And it’s about interactive experiences and behind-the-scenes tours of well-known venues—all the better to attract thrill seekers jonesing to be the first person to post on Instagram and say, “I did this!”
Schmid, who was recently promoted to Vice President of Tourism and Marketing of 1Berkshire, has tracked—and sometimes guided—the trends in Berkshire tourism over the past nine years. Originally from New Orleans, she lived in Vancouver; Washington, DC; Denver; and San Jose, Costa Rica, before returning to the Berkshires, where she’d attended middle and high school. She’s traveled widely, especially around South America, and has seen what works and what doesn’t in local tourism. “It’s really helpful to be in this role and have a broader perspective,” she says.
A shift from the tourism of the past, while subtle, has begun. Although legacy travelers still make up the bulk of the tourist population, 1Berkshire is seeing a rise in numbers of travelers among the 25-to-40 demographic, as well as visitors in the shoulder season—the months surrounding the Berkshires’ high season of June through August. This is thanks, in part, to campaigns like “Visit the Berkshires,” which shone a spotlight on many of the county’s unique offerings.
It’s also a result of younger visitors’ desire for experiential travel. To that end, Schmid was behind campaigns like #tastetheberkshires, a branded hashtag developed to push the burgeoning dining scene. “We’re the original farm-to-table,” she says. “People like Daniel Chester French and Edith Wharton grew their own produce and shipped it to New York City to enjoy there. Local farms and restaurants have been partnering for decades.”
Schmid and the 1Berkshire team have also reached beyond stalwart print publications like Travel + Leisure and Yankee Magazine to a variety of digital outlets and to social media and travel influencers. They host about 50 familiarization, or FAM, tours per year, giving writers and photographers the full-on Berkshire experience. She says, “With FAM tours, the story changes; each writer has a different angle. It’s a great way of starting new conversations.”
Lindsey Schmid’s “Hidden Gem” Picks