By Stephen Smoot
Last week, the Pendleton County Chamber of Commerce held its monthly meeting. Most of the discussion centered around different ideas and methods of improving marketing and expanding membership.
One of the barriers to efficient marketing and communication for the chamber has been its website. Elizabeth Scott, executive director for the chamber, shared that “it’s not an easy website to maneuver. The website is not functional.” She explained that lack of consistent service from the vendor made the site difficult to administer, especially in terms of updating information or adding events.
Scott said that people often comment that the site still carries old information.
She then discussed how much easier the Town of Franklin website functions and suggested going with the vendor for it. The board voted to approve the change despite the fact that its contract with the current provider lasts until August. They decided that foregoing the paid for service was more of a benefit than waiting several months before going with the new vendor.
If the board decided at that meeting, Scott related, the new vendor could have a replacement site working by Jan. 1.
Kristin Dingess, board chair, added that “starting the new year, having something the members could get the benefit of is huge.” Scott mentioned that the new site could help to create a calendar of events for the entire community.
It was also suggested that an easier site could allow for more to do administrative work “so everything is not all on Eizabeth.”
Teresa Munn, owner of Loafer’s Glory, then gave a presentation of an idea to promote both the chamber and area tourism. “I’m here to talk about weddings,” she shared.
Munn described how her lodging business went from charging $800 for a wedding experience to $5,000. She added that they brought in $11,000 in the past year and that one wedding party “dropped about $30,000” at Pendleton County businesses.
She explained that “almost every chamber site” in different areas “has a place for weddings.” In her talk, she explained how the chamber and wedding related businesses could link to each other and, with a combined effort, push the county as a wedding destination.
Munn also explained that the Trip Advisor results for Franklin showed a very limited number of local businesses and that more should submit information for free promotion on that site.
Next, Scott discussed the chamber’s plans for the town Christmas celebration. She informed the board that the chamber would partner with the Moose lodge and senior center for food and event space. Gary Hess shared that the South Fork Ruritan Club would also provide candy canes and cookies for the kids.
Scott wrapped up the meeting by asking for ideas to expand membership. Munn said that it might be beneficial to include businesses outside of the county that might do business with residents or visitors. Board members suggested a discount for multiyear dues payments.
The next meeting will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 in the town office.