By Stephen Smoot
The Pendleton County Convention and Visitors Bureau held its first meeting of the year remotely, due to concerns about safe travel in the bad weather. They discussed building on successes earned in 2023, in large part in the marketing area.
After the board heard the financial report, it moved on to marketing. Melinda Brooks from Experience Learning presented the report. She explained that the committee discussed a number of items with the website a priority.
The committee received quotes from website developers, including Taylor Yokum who recently updated the page for the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce. Brooks said of Yokum’s work for the chamber that “it looks pretty good.” She then stated that Yokum gave a quote of $2,000 to “refresh the website.” Board members discussed the quote and found it favorable.
Previously, the board budgeted $5,000 for refurbishing the website. Even with added services for a professional business suite, the amount came in well below both the budget and also prices for similar services from other companies.
Katie VanMeter, attending for the first time as a board member, responded to a question from executive director Amber Nesselrodt about response time. VanMeter replied that “she usually gets back to us very quickly,” referring to her experience with the Warner Theater web page.
Cory Thomas of T&K Markets also was recently added as a member of the board.
Annie Humes, board member, said that “Taylor is building in Wix,” a website design program. She added that the features were “easy once you learn them” and said that expected cost was “super reasonable.”
She also explained the importance of search engine optimization techniques that drive more traffic to a website and also elevate it in search result rankings.
Nesselrodt then reintroduced the topic of specially designed county welcome signs. She indicated that she held talks with the Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau on splitting the cost of signs that could welcome visitors to both counties on the same sign. She said, “Grant County is excited about that and is on board.”
Pocahontas County also responded favorably to the idea. Nesselrodt stated that “we have a lot more to work out on that.”
Kim Kirk from Swilled Dog informed the board that the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce also had discussed putting up new welcome signs. Nesselrodt said that she would confer with Elizabeth Scott, chamber executive director, on signs.
Kirk also offered the notion that the CVB should make additional wayfinder signs a higher priority. By this, she meant signs at intersections directing drivers to popular locations.
Jeff Munn, owner of Dry Run Spirits Distillery and whose wife, Teresa, operates the Loafer’s Glory Bed and Breakfast, started discussion on Maple Days. He suggested that the CVB reach out to WHSV, the Harrisonburg, Virginia, television station, to see if the event could be mentioned in a CVB sponsorship of weather reports or other aspects of the news broadcast.
He stated it could help “to get people across the mountain.”
Nesselrodt explained that the CVB has a marketing plan in place for Maple Days, which runs in both February and March. Part of this includes a Loafer’s Glory centered package to be given away in a drawing. Registration for the drawing will provide vital demographic information that shows the CVB where the most interest in Pendleton County tourism events and sites comes from.
She said that so far, the CVB had received 138 responses and shared, “I think that’s fantastic.”
The drawing runs through March 1. Nesselrodt added that the marketing effort will “highlight different producers who are here. Each one offers a unique experience” and that will shine through.