WESTPORT — Tourism Web sites were the primary focus of a recent informational meeting sponsored by the Westport Chamber of Commerce and its Future Business Leaders of America Club.

Lake Placid/Essex County Visitors Bureau President James McKenna said navigating the sites is a learning process that involves the media and how we communicate.

He pointed out that the tourism public is getting younger, “and we repeatedly have to change how we do things. It’s not the old 1-800 number. The technology has changed.”



SNAGS

Visitors Bureau Vice President Carol Joannette gave a Power Point presentation that outlined the ways businesses and chambers could participate in a joint marketing venture.

“From our programming, everyone can be seen in one way or another,” Joannette said.

McKenna added, “We encourage businesses to get photos on site.”

Several in attendance expressed concerns and difficulties with surfing the Web sites. This included attempting to Google “Adirondack golf” and getting other responses, such as “golf ball truffles.”

“We recognize we need to change (the Web site) and plan on it next year,” Joannette responded. “We can’t just go through and change all the pages. We need to test and retest.”



MARKETING THE AREA

Westport Golf Country Club owner John Hall told of difficulties where the Visitors Bureau site blocked him out. Others echoed sentiments concerning Lake Placid getting all the hits and the outlying regions suffering because of this.

“People might be going to Lake Placid for the specific things offered there,” McKenna responded. “We need to make sure we have the facilities in place before we market other areas, such as Westport.

“We try to market what we can, but we run into roadblocks.”

Joannette gave examples of Schroon Lake and Lake George, where there is a lot of confusion.

“We try to educate visitors to the rest of the county,” she said.

McKenna explained about the pin program, in which tourists go from area to area and collect commemmorative pins.

“It sounds like a hokey program, but it works. We show all the possibilities.”



DESTINATION PLANNING

McKenna discussed destination planning, in which the communities need to create overnight needs to eat and sleep.

“The No. 1 ingredient is word of mouth,” he added.

“People want to park their car and do all of the activities,” Joannette added. “There’s a need to create atmosphere to keep the people there. People who go to Lake Placid go home and tell their friends. You need to find out who wants to come here.”



CLUB PROJECT

Westport Future Business Leaders of America Club students gave a presentation of the tourist information and business-attraction site they are creating for the town. They received critiques from the audience, which they will incorporate in the finished project.

Westport Central School Superintendent Karen Tromblee explained they have “an active business teacher (Adam Facteau) who wants to interface with the community. We’re proud of what is happening.”

Club member Steffi Russell hopes their efforts “will be beneficial to the community and draw in more people for the school and the Town of Westport. We want to promote business in this area as a hub, to try to have people year-round.”

Student Chauntel Gillilland, who transferred from Willsboro, added, “It’s eye opening how much is available in Westport. I’m surprised how much is going on. I love the scope of the project.”

She is learning how to use and present facts and organize a market effectively, she said, noting, “We’re going out in the big world.”



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