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County Tourism to help fund website and community calendar

Grayson Chamber will handle administrative duties

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

Carter County has a lot of events going on. Events that the county’s tourism commission wants to let folks know about – especially folks who might travel from outside the area to participate, and spend money in our communities.

While organizations and individuals often create events on Facebook as a way to share and promote what they are doing, if you don’t follow that individual or group you might not see them.

This newspaper and others also maintain community calendars that organizations can submit their events to as well, but those have a limited reach. Folks outside the communities they serve likely never see them. And if individuals don’t think to alert the newspaper, it might not be added to the calendar at all.

But the Grayson Chamber of Commerce believes they may have found the solution the county has been looking for; one they discovered in a search for a new provider to host their website.

After another increase in the cost for hosting their website, the chamber began looking for a new host and content management system and discovered Locable – a host that could not only meet the needs being met by their current provider, but offer other tools as well.

One of those tools is a community calendar that the Chamber hopes could serve as a source for visitors who want to participate in events, as well as help local organizations avoid conflicts with their scheduling, so they aren’t splitting their audiences.

The plan that would allow the Chamber to do this isn’t cheap though. The Coordinate Plan comes in at $109 a month if paid on an annual basis, or $149 if billed monthly. What that plan would allow, though, is for any business or community group to add items to the Chamber’s community calendar, with the creation of their own free account and web presence.

There are options for businesses or organizations who are looking for a paid web presence of their own, including the ability to accept payments and donations, but the free Engage Plan allows businesses to explore options for community engagement and marketing without any start-up cost.

While the Coordinate Plan would also provide the Chamber with a number of other promotional tools, such as expanded email lists, the community calendar option is one that tourism has been seeking for some time.

By allowing folks to propagate their own calendar entries, which can then be shared though multiple portals, the service has the potential of exposing visitors to other events they may not have known of before. For instance, someone visiting the fair page to learn about the rodeo could see that the Shrine Club was hosting a horse show the weekend before and – if they were horse people – one weekend trip might turn into two weekend trips, or even a week-long visit.

It’s this kind of synergy that Carter County Tourism wants to support, to keep tourism dollars flowing into the county. So, after discussion on Monday evening, the tourism board moved to approve a motion to fund the service for the Grayson Chamber. This will allow both the chamber and tourism to have full access to the service’s suite of promotional tools, with chamber coordinator, Mike Nelson, handling all administrative duties for the new web site and calendar.

Grayson Chamber President Jill York, who made the proposal to tourism, said she is excited by their decision, and that she is looking forward to hosting a meeting to let interested businesses and organizations know how they can participate.

She also thanked tourism for their help in funding the project.

“It’s a big help in getting it up and going!” York said.

York also spoke in her capacity as a fair board officer, thanking tourism for their support in funding the rodeo at the county fair this year. That event, which visitors to the fair will get to experience at no extra charge, is expected to draw visitors to the county from across the state and region.

“The fact the group has done that (funded the entire cost of the rodeo) has just elated the fair board,” York said.

In other action tourism discussed the purchase of promotional materials for future fairs and community events, as well as the possible purchase of a large event space tent capable of seating up to 250 people. The board also discussed the possible return of community movie nights in the fall.

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com



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