The tourism agency has a website geared toward tourists with information about things to do, places to stay and where to eat, but it never before had a site aimed at teaching lodging owners about the TDA. Hotel, motel and other lodging business owners had to contact the tourism authority office if they wanted the particulars about how the county’s 4 percent lodging tax is spent — which brings in almost $900,000 — or to find out when the TDA board was meeting or how to apply for grants.
“This is just going to be information we can add in there for our partners,” said Lynn Collins, executive director of the TDA. “This is not the type of information you need on your visitors website.”
But, it is a sort of knowledge that is important to lodging owners, who are highly vested in the success of the TDA’s tourism marketing efforts. Thus, the TDA built a completely separate website (www.haywoodcountytourismdevelopment.com) to keep them informed.
TDA employees hope that the website will make it easier for groups seeking grants from TDA money, or for lodging owners wondering how to remit the tax or how to register a new lodging business. Now, when a new cabin rental business opens in Maggie Valley, tourism agency employees can simply direct them to the site for everything they need to know.
In addition to telling people what the TDA is, what it does and what their responsibilities as lodging owners are, pertinent tourism-related articles on topics such as new trends and social media advertising will also be posted to the site.
A link to the new site will be placed on www.visitncsmokies.com and Haywood County’s webpage.
The tourism agency is also redesigning its visitors website, which will revolve around the TDA’s “Homegrown in Haywood” campaign. “Homegrown in Haywood” will focus on advertising locally produced items, be it Sunburst Farm’s trout dip or handmade dulcimers.
— By Caitlin Bowling