Internet listings valuable in promoting tourism, Tourism Bureau director says
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Tourism Director Beth Wiles tells board members that she wants to help local resorts, outfitters, lodging facilities and restaurants use the internet to promote area tourism.
ST. ROBERT, Mo. (Dec. 19, 2008) — Pulaski County Tourism Board members are urging hotels, restaurants, outfitters and resorts to take advantage of opportunities to build up a better presence on the internet.
“We need to explain to our business partners here in this area that they need to get onto the state tourism website to list their tourism-related businesses. It’s free; once they list there, they can then checkmark a box and it will get them in the visitors guide, the big planner the state does,” Tourism Director Beth Wiles said during the board’s Friday meeting.
Wiles said she’s already held a workshop for Pulaski County outfitters on internet usage and plans a Jan. 21 meeting with area lodging businesses and a Jan. 22 meeting with event planners. A meeting with area restaurants will be held later, she said.
“And that doesn’t cost them anything?” asked Tourism Board Chairwoman Twyla Cordry.
“It is totally free and very easy to do,” Cordry said. “There are some business owners who don’t have internet access or don’t work with computers. So in our outdoor room, we’re getting ready to set up an online area, one for guests but then those type of businesspeople can come in and we’ll assist them on getting their listings in.”
Wiles said 70 area businesses are already listed on the state’s tourism site, but many haven’t updated their listings recently. Web space is available for photographs and video of properties, she said, but those features haven’t been used often.
“I’m really afraid if I don’t get out and promote this, we’re going to be down on our listings in the state guide as well as the website,” Wiles said.
While not directly related to tourism issues, Wiles also noted that a recent seminar was held by St. Robert city officials on promoting commercial real estate availability through the internet.
“The city of St. Robert held a meeting offering assistance for listing commercial buildings and land for sale. They’ll be listing it within their website but also on the (Missouri Location One website),” Wiles said. “They’re just doing this to assist, to get it off the ground, and later they’ll turn it over to the Pulaski County Growth Alliance. So in your business activities, if you know of anybody that has some property for sale, get a hold of (St. Robert land use administrator Alan Clark) and they will help with photos and getting that listed because people access that from all over the United States, different developers that might be considering our area.
“It’s important that we get on the move and get things out there so that people can consider us for a possibility,” Wiles said.
Wiles said the Tourism Bureau’s own website is continuing to see substantial growth with 6,000 more people viewing the site in November than last year November and up 110,000 to 114,000 over the previous year.
“From the different research I’ve done, more and more people are just going to the web for their information and research,” Wiles said.
In-person visits to the Pulaski County Visitors’ Center have dropped off somewhat, with 7,592 visitors this year through the end of November. That’s down somewhat from last year’s statistics but still up from last year, Wiles said.
A major item part of the tourism bureau’s expenses includes advertising for Pulaski County in various periodicals and attending trade shows to promote the county. Wiles said several new ads recently came out and staff members have purchased computer software that will be useful for photo production work.
“I’m working with several individuals in the community to assist me in building our photo library. They’ll be getting out and about to area festivals and getting different seasonal shots for us,” Wiles said. “One thing that will be occurring in 2009 is ads that are in fall issues, we’re going to start matching our ads up with the season in which they come out … Currently we’ve been running ads that are spring year-round.”
Wiles said during January, her assistant Karen Hood will attend the American Bus Association convention in Charlotte, N.C., and Wiles will attend a Kansas City sports show followed by a Chicago event. Representatives of the Pulaski County Outfitters’ Association will attend events in Collinsville, Ill., and the St. Louis suburb of St. Charles as part of a cooperative marketing program with the Tourism Bureau, Wiles said.