2013-07-18 / Arts & Entertainment News

Small towns, big stakes

Rand McNally looks for great stops on the American summer road trip
SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY


Heaven Hill Distillery is a popular attraction in Bardstown, Ky., which was named Most Beautiful Town in Rand McNally’s 2012 Best of the Road program. 
SHUTTERSTOCK IMAGE Heaven Hill Distillery is a popular attraction in Bardstown, Ky., which was named Most Beautiful Town in Rand McNally’s 2012 Best of the Road program. SHUTTERSTOCK IMAGE Once again, Rand McNally is searching for the Best Small Towns in America.

This year, Rand McNally has teamed up with two new partners, Good Sam Club and Geocaching.com. With these new partnerships, the Best of the Road program kicks off and is sure to provide excitement, inspiration and an increase in travelers interested in visiting America’s best small towns.

Winning towns in six categories will receive a free custom iPhone App and online travel guide developed by Rand McNally, coverage in the 2015 Road Atlas, billions of media impressions, thousands of new visitors and more.

In 2012, with more than 700 towns participating and 1 billion media impressions generated, thousands of road travelers and small-town residents encouraged friends, family and fellow residents to vote for their favorite town in five different categories: Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Friendliest and Best for Food.

“The Best of the Road program put us on the map in a way that no amount of traditional advertising could,” said Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, representing 2012 Most Beautiful Town winner Bardstown, Ky. “We have received so many national accolades, visits and notoriety because of Best of the Road. Best of the Road showcased what our community is truly about, and why it should be part of your journey. People are driving 100 miles out of their way to visit with us. Local businesses shared that the recognition of our town as the ‘Most Beautiful’ in 2012 has led to significant increases in revenues, and our residents are even more proud to hail from Bardstown, Ky. – the Most Beautiful Small Town in America.”

This summer, Best of the Road will again ask America to vote at bestoftheroad.com for the small towns that everyone should visit. But this year will be better than ever, with a new category and more online and social media interaction as Best of the Road goes all-virtual.

Enhancements to Best of the Road 2013 include:

• A new website featuring a simple path to registration and easy voting features.

• Increased integration with social media.

• A new category: Best for Geocaching, sponsored by Geocaching.com.

“The addition of two new partners this year brings a great combination of inspiration and trip-planning, and a new way to experience a small town — all via technology,” said Dave Muscatel, CEO of Rand McNally. “Our new digital product offerings for CVBs and DMOs, in addition to our partnerships with Good Sam and Geocaching.com provide tools to optimize the trip experience. Between Good Sam’s online trip planner, where travelers create a road trip and download it to the Good Sam GPS device for navigation, and Geocaching.com, which promotes pre-planned GeoTours within a location to attract the Geocaching community, we’ve combined forces to help destinations showcase the best that their towns have to offer.”

Program details

Through Sept. 3, nominations will be accepted, and the competition to capture the most votes in each of the six categories — Most Beautiful, Most Fun, Most Patriotic, Friendliest, Best for Food, and Best for Geocaching — will take place. Five finalists will be selected in each category by a panel of travel experts based on a number of criteria.

Finalists and winning towns will be featured in the Good Sam Club’s Road Trip Planner, a new online tool that helps roadtrippers organize and plan their trips and the stops along the way.

Also new this year: The winning town in each category will receive a free custom online travel guide and iPhone app to promote the town to travelers across America, developed by Rand McNally and powered by Best of the Road. Additionally, the winning Best for Geocaching town will receive a free GeoTour, courtesy of Geocaching.com. Geocachers from around the world will be able to use the Geocaching smartphone app to learn about the town’s best places via strategically placed geocaches.

Small towns for the Best of the Road program are defined using the 2010 U.S. Census definition of “Places” (Towns, Cities, Villages, CDPs, Municipalities, etc.) and having a population of fewer than 150,000.

For more information about Rand McNally, visit randmcnally.com or bestoftheroad.com. ¦

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