December 26, 2013 9:17:33 AM
Nathan Gregory - [email protected]
Four local governing and tourism entities have overhauled their websites in time for the new year.
The Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of West Point, Clay County and West Point Community Growth Alliance have worked with web development company Marketing Alliance on new-and-improved websites.
CVB Executive Director Nancy Carpenter said the revamped site, which went live Dec. 16, is more user-friendly and allows for more interactivity between Columbus residents, tourists and their tourism board on promoting events. The new site, visitcolumbusms.org, also has features including a request submission form, visitors guide and interactive maps.
"It allows us to update our calendar of events quickly and easily so if there is an event that maybe we haven't sponsored financially but certainly it's an event we want to promote then we can easily post it on our website," Carpenter said. "Marketing Alliance has done an amazing job in working with us. They wanted to know everything from who our visitors are to what drives our market."
Carpenter said many visitors of major Columbus tourism events have found out about them through the Internet. A fresh, modern web home where CVB staff can update information quickly is expected to draw more traffic not just to the site, but to the Friendly City, she said.
"There have been limitations in the past that we will not have anymore," Carpenter said. "We're excited about being able to efficiently carry on the mission of the CVB to local people as well as to visitors. We're extremely pleased with the efforts (Marketing Alliance has) made to meet our needs."
The websites for both Clay County and West Point have updated menus allowing visitors to find out more information about public safety, government offices, public works and court information. Those two are separate sites with the same domains they had before -- claycountyms.com and wpnet.org -- but they are tied together with the WPCGA site and all three can be accessed through westpointms.org. The site offers virtual tours as well as information about industry, Main Street and recreation.
The interactivity and consistency between those sites is something Marketing Alliance creative director Mark Kitchens said was paramount when designing the new sites.
"The main goal was to consolidate the look and feel in order to better portray the area and to better attract both tourism and commerce in the area," Kitchens said. "I think we achieved that through a simplified, consistent navigation system as well as a graphic look and feel between the sites so as you go from one to the other you feel you're in the same area both through the graphics and the navigation system."
Carpenter said the $15,000 estimated cost for Marketing Alliance's services came from CVB funds. Former WPCGA director Cynthia Wilson said about $31,000 in tourism revenues were used to revamp the three West Point and Clay County sites.
Marketing Alliance operates from four locations, including one in Jackson. Its other locations are in Charlotte, N.C., Punta Gorda, Fla., and Tulsa, Okla.
Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.