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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Tourism Director Tanalyn Dollar again stressed the need for bringing the visitstegen.com website up to par and for utilizing Visit Widget, during the June 20 Joint Tourism meeting.
During the financial report, Dollar recommended that the group consider a change to this practice.
Instead of going over the budget each meeting, she suggested omitting the report from most meetings and four times a year go into the finances in more detail – a “deep dive” into the numbers.
“I would say that every quarter there would be the option for the board to say that we actually want to allocate more of the time that we have understanding this or doing a deep dive,” she said.
Dollar said she had talked to other tourism directors who operate that way. They found it advantageous. She said it would allow her to be better prepared to answer financial questions at that quarterly meeting.
Nicole French asked if Dollar would want them to submit questions to her prior to that meeting. Dollar said she would.
Geoff Giglierano called it “an interesting idea,” and asked Dollar to put it in a written proposal for the entire board to consider. Dollar said she would.
“I think this also you know really speaks to the overall strategy so you know your overall strategy and how that’s being funded you know so they really kind of dovetail together,” she said.
Dollar also shared research data with the board. Consumers avoid new destinations if they have difficulties planning a trip, or anticipate a bad trip, she said.
According to the research, 63% said they had a poor experience planning their last vacation.
“So just think of the impact if we do a good job with helping them plan it right,” she said.
The question, Dollar said is “how can we make it easy to plan our families, and of course groups, and then how can tourism help travelers feel confident and then if they can quickly and easily plan where they’re going to stay what they’re going to do and also have the ability to change that on the fly?” She noted that this would be “a game changer” that would provide visitors with “a frictionless experience.”
She emphasized that the website is always the first place someone will go, in planning a vacation. From there they go to “events” and to places to stay. Then, a tool like Visit Widget would allow them to make their plans for the entire trip.
She said she is also getting brochures and maps updated.
Dollar also talking about meeting with Andy Waterman, director of communications for Discover Illinois, and about the idea of co-marketing tours with another destination such as Perryville.
At one point, French questioned the need for Visit Widget, asking if there was a free program that would do the same thing. She also asked whether there was data on how many visitors to Ste. Genevieve had requested travel itineraries.
New member Taylor Marberry, asked why Visit Widget was necessary if the new website design was going to make it “stellar.”
Marberry also expressed uncertainty over the price of the website revamping and the cost of Visit Widget.
Dollar said that a little over $19,000 was approved for the website improvements. Visit Widget will have a one-time $3,000 fee, then a $399 a month fee for basic service and $599 a month later on, for the full service.
French said that one of the cities Dollar gave as an example had taken a full year to rebuild its website. She questioned paying for Visit Widget before the website revamping is done.
Dollar said that in the case French mentioned, the website had been totally redesigned. In Ste. Genevieve’s case, it will not be a ground-up rebuilding, and should just take three months.
In replying to Marberry’s question, Dollar said the goal is to make things as easy as possible for the potential visitor. Also, the website will not be collecting any analytics.
A discussion also took place on Dollar’s visit to Illinois and to Washington, Mo.
Dena Kreitler suggested she might be better off staying in town and focusing on getting to know the product better.
Geoff Giglierano agreed that she might want to meet more local business owners, and then go check out the competition later.
Dollar said she “learned a awful lot about what’s working and not working” when she visited other tourism leaders.
The question arose as to whether Visit Widget would work with the tourism website before its revamping is done. Dollar agreed that she would contact Visit Widget and see if the app would do so.
Meanwhile, she mentioned a co-marketing campaign being done with Perryville. With Ste. Genevieve’s lack of motel rooms, the two cities pair well together, with visitors coming to Ste. Genevieve during the day and then staying over in Perryville.
A two-page ad will be in the Missouri Visitors Guide for the joint venture.
Dollar reported that both the French Heritage Festivals and the Spring For Down Syndrome events had been successful on June 10. The Down Syndrome event’s UTV Poker Run had more than 600 vehicles take place with no reports of any problems.
She noted that the Third Annual Honey Festival would be the following weekend.