Tourism website a boost for foothills community
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 08:38 am
The Town of Black Diamond is tapping into the world of social media, hoping to draw more tourists to town this summer.
The Town set aside $8,000 to develop a new tourism and business website with links to Facebook and Twitter that highlights the area’s businesses and attractions.
David Petrovich, Black Diamond’s economic development and events coordinator, said they want to have the new website up and running before this year’s busy summer tourist season.
“We want lead-time to start attracting people to our website before tourism hits,” he said. “My worry is if we are delaying too long we are going to miss the coming tourism season.”
Petrovich is working with Dek Technologies from Okotoks and the Town’s Economic Development Committee to develop the site.
He hopes to target the larger Calgary market with the new site.
Petrovich said 46 per cent of the Town’s website traffic is from Calgary and 11 per cent are from the Black Diamond, Turner Valley and Okotoks area.
A tourism website will attract potential tourists and visitors looking to learn more about the area whether its recreational activities or a list of eating establishments, said Petrovich.
“We believe we can draw more people to a site that’s much more dynamic and less cumbersome in details to do with local issues,” he said.
“If we only have 11 per cent of our traffic that needs this information why are we putting through the other 89 per cent – lets split that out.”
Veronica Kloiber, who is a member of the Economic Development Committee and is opening a butcher shop in town this month, said the website is a great way to draw tourists.
“It’s needed,” she said. “The town website does give residents information and people looking for business bylaws, but there is nothing for tourism.”
Petrovich said the Town became aware of the importance of social media when the 2013 flood hit and cut off the telephone and Internet connections at the Black Diamond Bridge, which was damaged when the Sheep River spilled its banks.
“During the flood we had lost a lot of our ability to communicate and it ended up Facebook became one of our primary tools to get information out,” he said. “We realized if we are too restrictive in our communication and not using social media we can be caught off guard.”
Although the need for a tourism website has been discussed for years, Petrovich said the Town never had the staff to implement it.
“It’s a difficult undertaking,” he said. “Social media exerts so much staff time when you do it as a company-wide thing. It requires a lot of work on limited staff.”
Rather than the town increasing staff to monitor it, Petrovich said it will become part of his own job.
“We are going to make it work,” he said. “It will primarily fall on myself to monitor it.”
Petrovich got a taste of operating a tourism-based website when the Town created a test site for the Tour of Alberta last summer.
“The Tour of Alberta was our first dipping the toe in,” he said.
Like most first-time projects, Petrovich said there were some hiccups along the way. The website was accessed by an outside user and advertising was added to the page without Town approval. This resulted in unauthorized posts commenting on the advertisement, he said.
With the new site, Petrovich will approve all comments made before they are posted.
“We’ve got to watch some of the comments that go out there,” he said. “If there’s something negative we will put it on, but we will be able to respond that way.”
Once the site is posted, Petrovich will communicate with local businesses to get their ideas and make adjustments and adaptations on an ongoing basis.
“This is going to be a very malleable site,” he said.
“What we want to do is create a very interesting site that changes over time and adapts to people’s needs.”
Petrovich envisions a calendar of events, blogging section, Economic Development Committee initiatives, business profiles and communication through Facebook and Twitter about must-sees in the community, linking them back to the website.