Dollar, Welch Describes Benefits Of New Software System – Ste. Genevieve Herald
By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Although no quorum was present, the joint meeting of the Tourism Advisory Council and Tourism Tax Commission lasted well over an hour March 21, as goals and strategies were discussed.
City Administrator Happy Welch and Tourism Director Tanalyn Dollar outlined the potential benefits of using ITI Digital.
“It is software that you attach to your website to pull in information, so that you can have your places to visit, your shops, everything is more automated than what were done,” Welch said.
He and Dollar believe it would be a huge boost.
“It’s not a cheap option,” Welch said. “It can run anywhere from $13,000 to $19,000, plus a $10,00 setup fee, plus an annual budget of $2,000 to $3,000.”
“The reason we are both really excited about it is that it goes out there and it crawls the web, it does Google places, Instagram, Facebook, Event-Right, many, many,” Dollar said. “What you do is put a geo fence around zip codes.
“It aggregates all that and throws it up into a very sexy, easy to use, colorful format and then allows the visitor to click on what there is to go, places to visit and trails, and allows them to create their own itinerary. Then they can either email it to a family member or they can download it. They can self-serve with this.”
With so many events going on (32 calendar events and six ongoing ones), Dollar said she is “inundated” in trying to get information out and that she feels right now she is the “bottleneck” in the information flow.
“What this does, it actually leapfrogs over all the minutia of that and puts it in the hands of the business owner, who can either fill out a form with their own information,” Dollar said. “They can fill it out and shoot it up there.”
Or, Dollar can put the information up for them, if they prefer.
“So, the advantage is that everybody gets to play,” she said. “Everybody is represented there. The customer is self-served and we can track it. All of a sudden I can do other things, like email marketing and segmentation.”
ITI Digital offers a unique service.
“There really isn’t anybody else that delivers this the way they do,” Dollar said.
The question, she said, was whether the group wanted to go with the option of letting the customer create their own presentation, or for them to do it for them.
“Instead of focusing on the information and whether that’s getting out, the focus becomes, what does our audience want?” she said. “How should we be orchestrating our resources to match their needs, especially as they are changing?”
Dollar showed the group examples of websites ITI Digital had been involved with.
“I would go to the community and say do people want themed things or do they want self-served. If you want a theme, it has to tie in with the brand of Ste. Genevieve. This is who we are, these are the things we’re known for.”
Having ITI would streamline the process for potential visitors, allowing them to choose what they want to do during visits.