From the first contact to the last goodbye, every interaction counts toward a visitor’s experience of the place they are visiting. Exciting travel packages, quality services, attractive buildings and genuine Maine Woods experiences will draw visitors and keep them coming back.

The Center’s Tourism Innovation Program is helping tourism providers implement innovations that will strengthen their businesses, expand job opportunities and attract visitors to the Maine Woods.

In 2017, the Northern Forest Center awarded the first three grants in the Piscataquis County Tourism Innovation Program (TIP) to assist three Moosehead Lake area businesses in implementing new product and business innovations.

The program offers qualified businesses financial assistance ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 each to hire top consultants to develop and implement business innovations ranging from software and facility improvements to new product development. Learn about grant eligibility. Business grants awarded in 2017 include:

The Spa at Blair Hill (completed Fall 2017)

The Center’s first TIP project assisted in creating a new spa and wellness center at the Blair Hill Inn—a five-star B&B with sweeping views of Moosehead Lake. After connecting the proprietors of the inn with professional support from Mia Kryicos of the international spa consultancy Kyricos & Associates, the Center provided financial assistance to accelerate the project and ensure a top quality final product. 

Even with some construction still underway and limited marketing, the Spa at Blair Hill was busy during its first season—booking more than 70 massage and facial treatments and providing income to four treatment specialists from the Moosehead area. With the launch of a new website featuring the spa’s offerings, the proprietors project a 100% growth is spa sales for 2018. 

Adding the new spa was a factor in enabling the Blair Hill Inn to secure an exclusive quality certification from Relais & Chateau—a global brand that uses exacting standards to identify quality destination inns and restaurants. The Blair Hill Inn is now one of only 85 properties in North America to receive this recognition, and the new spa will be a key element of the services they offer to guests seeking (and expecting) a truly world class destination experience.

Northeast Whitewater & Moose Tours

In December 2017, the Center awarded a matching grant to assist Jeremy and Jessica Hargreaves to upgrade the online marketing platform for their tour company. As the only whitewater guide company in the Moosehead area, and the state’s leading “moose tour” provider, Northeast Whitewater & Moose Tours needed to streamline its brand and increase its ability to track client behavior on its online reservation system.

TIP funding from the Center is enabling Northeast to work with Flyte New Media and Arctic Reservations on these and other activities to improve their ability to target high potential clients and increase bookings.

Moosehead Marine Museum

Also in December 2017, the Center worked with staff of the Moosehead Marine Museum to launch a comprehensive review of its overall marketing program and develop new marketing strategies to increase product sales—particularly tickets for Moosehead Lake tours on the historic steamboat Katahdin.

Built in 1914 by Bath Iron Works, the Katahdin was used as a towboat to haul booms of logs until 1975, including participating in the nation’s last log drive, after which it was designated a National Historic Landmark. Now entering her second centennial, the 225-passenger Katahdin serves as an primary attraction for visitors to the Moosehead Lake region.

A matching grant from the Center is enabling the Museum to contract with Nancy Marshall Communications, one of Maine’s leading marketing and PR firms, to improve its marketing program and its ability to share this unique Moosehead experience with visitors.

Funding for the TIP program comes from a New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) financing, facilitated by the Center, that funded reconstruction of the AMC’s Medawisla Lodge on the edge of the 100-Mile Wilderness, northeast of Greenville. This federal financing program enables the AMC and the Center to invest in a range of projects and programs that support the Maine Woods economy and provide other community benefits. The Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and JP Morgan Chase provided capital and tax credit authority in support of the NMTC financing.