How to Promote Local Business…1899-Style

How to promote local businesses has been an essential question for hundreds of years – literally! Today, with digital tourism and hospitality marketing, it is easier than ever to reach thousands of potential customers or clients.

But that wasn’t always the case!

So how did Lake George become such a tourist hot spot, and how did visitors to the lake know where to find the best dining, lodging, and entertainment before the advent of local online guides like

This article from an 1899 Lake George Mirror addresses that very issue with ideas for how to help businesses on the lake (text reprinted below with permission).

Some Ideas That Would Help Business on the Lake

A half or mile driving track.

A convention hall at the head of the lake.

A carnival of the same nature as we had several years ago.

Night flotillas would be a great summer attractions. (sic)

A summer school.

A Lake George sanitarium.

A Lake George university with college regattas on the lake.

Regattas at each resort with prizes for the different events.

A series of steam yacht and naphtha launch races.

Offer prizes for the biggest lake trout, pickerel, bass, perch, bullhead and pumpkinseed caught during the season.

An electric light plant to supply hotels and cottages around the lake. A telephone and telegraph line to all the hotels.

Have the convicts build a boulevard around Lake George.

Search lights on lake steamers with night excursions along shore.

Pack the trout streams with brook. Trout fry by the 100,000.

A fish hatchery on Lake George kept running the year round. The fish so raised to be utilized only for stocking Lake George.

Cut prices in two on cottage sites as an inducement for visitors to locate and build cottages.

A naphtha supply depot, as an inducement for owners of naphtha boats to come to Lake George.

Telegraph office in the village of Caldwell the year round.

Build a “chute” on Artillery bay so that visitors can enjoy the invigorating sport.

Build a Lake George museum in the village of Caldwell.

Low price cottages furnished that could be rented for the season.

House boats on Lake George that could be rented.

Finish the bicycle path to Glens Falls and extend the path to Luzerne, Warrensburgh (sic) and Bolton.

Reorganization of the Lake George Yacht Club.

One of the most needed improvements is a marine railroad, to be built at the north end of the lake so that steam yachts can come to Lake George from Lake Champlain or go to Lake Champlain from Lake George. With cooperation of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad Co., such a railroad could be equipped very reasonably.

Lake George hotels should provide dark rooms for amateur photographers.

Open camps on the shore of the lake at the different resorts.

Offer inducements for College regattas and the A.C.A. meet.

A public pier on the lake in the village of Caldwell.

Display of fireworks on the lake, evenings on rafts.

A series of Stereopticon lectures in the large cities, of views of Lake George.

While many of these suggestions center on things municipalities can do to attract tourism business (and some are very obviously and adorably out of date – like the references to telegraphs and steam yachts), small businesses and newer tourist destinations can learn a lot from the innovation on this list. Thinking outside the box is how you find the idea or ideas that really resonate with your audience. The fireworks display is still one of the biggest draws to Lake George today, for example, and thousands of passengers take steamboat tours of the lake during the day and evening hours every summer.

If you want to improve local and tourist business for your hotel, restaurant, or attraction it all starts the same way Lake George started getting noticed way back in 1899: with a list.

Sit down and make a list of ways to improve your visibility. If you’re stuck on where to get started, learn more about why a mobile-friendly website, engaging content, and social media marketing should be at the top of your list.

Photo Credit: Luke Dow Photography

About Sara Mannix

Sara Mannix founded Mannix in 1996 with a goal to get clients found on the web through organic search engine optimization (SEO). The company now serves over 1500 clients worldwide and employs a team of 30 specialists, operating under the tagline "Success Measured." The tagline reflects the company's focus on measurable results for every client. This multifaceted company is an industry leader, specializing in organic SEO, conversion rate optimization, SEO-friendly website design, paid advertising (PPC). Mannix Marketing has two divisions, one side is focused on lead generation for nationally competitive businesses. The other side is focused on local businesses. Mannix has one of the largest portfolios of tourism and city guides in Upstate New York. These guides, (,,, and etc), reach over 10 million visitors a year. Corresponding social media profiles for the region extend this reach to millions every month.