Listening Session Summary

One of our goals for this year is to build a better year-round experience for guests and the local Port Townsend community. To successfully achieve this goal, we want to listen to our local community to better understand how our current offerings have been received and what feedback they have for improving our offerings moving forward. To gather this information, we invited our neighbors to share their feedback via Listening Sessions and an online survey. 

The Listening Sessions were designed as a container for local community members to better understand Fort Worden Hospitality, what our goals are as an organization, and for our team to gather community feedback. The conversations from each session are vital for us as we work towards creating actionable steps for the suite of services we manage.  

To start each Listening Session, Matt Gurney, CEO, shared the goals for the listening sessions was to involve the community in the conversation around how to ensure Fort Worden Hospitality is a thriving year-round organization. He then touched on how FWH is a not-for-profit organization with board members and has a concession agreement with the PDA. FWH was created post-pandemic to manage the venues, vacation rental homes, catering, and food outlets on the Fort Worden campus and the organization is run separately from the PDA and State Parks.  

During the session, participants were asked a series of questions, including what brings them most frequently to the fort, what they enjoy most about the fort, what is the most disappointing thing about the fort, and finally a Big Sky idea. Work, walking, hiking, the beach, and entertainment are all common reasons people visit the fort. The most common answer to what people enjoyed most about the fort was the natural varied landscape that lends itself to many different activities, sitting in the Commons, and the historic architecture. Many participants voiced their disappointment in the inconsistent hours of the different outlets FWH operates, and the failure of the Glamping tents. When asked what would be convenient for FWH to have for neighbors many agreed on having more events and community activities held at Fort Worden such as live music, theater, or lectures. As well as having a small grocery store with healthy drinks, more grab-&-go options, more local discounts for lodging and events, and more kid-friendly activities. 

The survey was created to gain a better sense of the experiences both guests and locals have had while visiting Fort Worden, how often they visit, what they liked, disliked and feedback to improve. Just under one hundred people completed the survey thus far, providing a better understanding of how often people come to our different spaces such as the Reveille Cafe, the Fort Worden Commons, and the Guardhouse Pub. Feedback included suggestions for live entertainment, trivia/ game nights, and outdoor games available when the Guardhouse reopens. Responses indicated the need for more consistent and clear communication around housing rentals and Guardhouse and Reveille hours, along with a few comments regarding buildings needing upgrades like paint, and a desire for better internet around campus. We are taking this, and all the other feedback received and analyzing how we can create a sustainable business model. 

The Listening Sessions provided insight into community desires for Fort Worden, addressing historical concerns and paving the way for a more vibrant, accessible, and community-oriented space. These sessions were a productive first step towards creating a thriving place where locals can enjoy the beauty of Fort Worden and feel welcome year-round. Feedback provided will be used as FWH continues to evolve as a business along with guiding campus collaboration between all the organizations at the fort. The Listening Sessions paired with the Survey results will assist in the creation of company goals and an actionable plan moving forward. 

For those who would like to participate in filling out the survey please click this link. 

From all the team members at Fort Worden Hospitality, Thank you! 

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