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Integrated Marketing Communications: Canal Quarters


For years, the Canal Quarters program was one of the area's best-kept secrets. My goal was to change that! Through an integrated marketing campaign, I consistently grew awareness of the program, which translated into increased bookings and revenue. The Canal Quarters are seven historic lockhouses that have been rehabilitated into overnight lodging for guests. Each tells a different story of a period in the canal's history, are furnished with authentic pieces, and sleep eight people who can"step back in time" to live as the lock keepers did.


There is no other program like Canal Quarters in the the country, which makes it attractive to the press. I set up journalists from a variety of local, regional, and niche publications with visits or overnight stays in the lockhouses, and I also worked closely with the tourism organizations in Montgomery, Frederick, and Washington Counties, who included the lockhouses in their own fam tours and press trips. The Maryland Office of Tourism was also a big fan of the program. I achieved 33 major features in media publications on the Canal Quarters program over seven years, which helped to raise awareness and drive bookings. A list of media placements is included below.


Until 2017, I only had $1,200 a year to market the Canal Quarters program, so I relied heavily on media placement and promotion to our own constituency through print/email newsletters, direct mail to past guests, and social media. Signage in the park and word of mouth also performed well for us, as over 80% of traffic to the Canal Quarters site in 2018 was either from organic search or direct traffic. I put in place strategies to encourage word-of-mouth marketing, including training Park Rangers and volunteers, targeting audiences who thru-hike or thru-bike the entire towpath, sending post-stay emails, and promoting social media hashtags and journal entries. Two grants enabled us to create videos for Lockhouses 6 and 22, which experienced high engagement on social media.

In order to continue increasing the occupancy of the lockhouses, I advocated for and received a $9,000 annual budget for Canal Quarters marketing, which I devoted to print and digital advertising campaigns. I also experienced success with email and social media campaigns and saw a bump in traffic with the addition of AdWords. We hosted open houses once or twice a year to raise awareness within the local community about Canal Quarters, which provide a unique staycation experience. Our seventh lockhouse, "Swains,"opened to great fanfare in June 2019, with coverage from WTOP, WAMU, Preservation Magazine, and several other smaller outlets. We gave tours of the new lockhouse to over 500 people during the two-day grand opening.

During the pandemic in 2020, the Canal Quarters program was closed for several months, but upon opening, saw tremendous growth in bookings. Because the Trust committed to cleaning each lockhouse between guests, I was able to market the lockhouses as a safe, socially-distant vacation option. Bookings nearly doubled our pre-pandemic rates.

Over seven years, I was successful in raising awareness of this award-winning program, increasing bookings, and attracting 15,500 guests for lockhouse stays, which also serves many as their first exposure to the work the C&O Canal Trust does in the C&O Canal National Historical Park. These guests were then incorporated into the Trust's larger awareness campaign, where they received our email and print newsletters and began to move up the ladder of engagement to become repeat Canal Quarters guests, volunteers, and/or donors.




Over 7 years



Over 7 years



In bookings in 3 years after pandemic

Selected Media Features

National Parks Magazine, Spring 2021

The New York Times (mention), February 2021

Fox 5 DC, January 2021

State College Magazine, January 2021

Maryland Road Trips, November 2020

Country Homes, March 2020

Blue Ridge Outdoors, October 2019
Preservation Magazine, Fall 2019
AAA Mid-Atlantic, Summer 2019
Smart Meetings, August 2019
WAMU, June 2019
WTOP, June 2019

Macaroni Kid, January 2019

Lonely Planet, December 2018

The Culture Trip, September 2018

Susquehanna Life Magazine, September 2018

WTOP, June 2018

Chesapeake Bay Journal, April 2018

Getaway Mavens, April 2018
Allegany Magazine, July 2017

Early American Life Magazine, June 2017

Frederick News-Post, April 2016

AASLH Blog, January 2016

Montgomery Magazine, December/January 2016

Family Fun Magazine, October 2015

Eastern Home and Travel, September/October 2015

Frederick Magazine, July 2015

Hagerstown Magazine, July 2015

NBC Washington, April 2015

ALHFAM Bulletin, Spring 2015

The Juncture - Journey Through Hallowed Ground Blog, April 2015

Architectural Digest, December 2014

The Baltimore Sun, April 2014


Lockhouse 6

Lockhouse 6 - 30 seconds

Lockhouse 22

Lockhouse 22 - 30 seconds

Funded by the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Grant Fund, featuring the Stacy and Wheat families as volunteer actors.​

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