County’s tourism website needs some TLC
Plumas County paid $7,500 to develop a tourism and marketing website, but isn’t paying anyone to update it. The site isn’t even linked to the county’s own home page.
Instead the county link takes visitors to plumascounty.org, the site maintained by the Plumas County Tourism and Hospitality Council. That website was formerly maintained by Plumas Corporation through the Plumas County Visitors Bureau, which no longer exists.
“It’s a work in progress,” said Supervisor Jon Kennedy during an interview last week, six months after the website, exploreplumascounty.com, launched last August.
At the time, Kennedy said he would administer the website’s content until a permanent webmaster could be named.
But then the supervisors faced a looming budget deficit and Kennedy focused on that issue. Now he is devoting his time to fighting the looming MediCal cuts, which are threatening Eastern Plumas Health Care and Seneca Healthcare District.
The county’s website is still accessible, but if anyone Googles Plumas County, the website doesn’t appear until the second results page. It’s a visually beautiful website, and includes a lot of information about the county, but it’s not kept current. For example, a click on the calendar reveals no information about what’s happening in the county. And, if someone asks for additional information, there is no one designated to provide it.
Kennedy said he is hopeful that an economical solution can be found. In the meantime, he said he is pleased that the county is no longer paying $150,000 to support a tourism bureau and that there “hasn’t been a dip in TOT” (the county’s transient occupancy tax, levied on customers of lodging providers).
Kennedy said he planned to talk to Michael Clawson of Big Fish Creations, the new website’s creator, to see if he could help.
“I’d be happy to help,” Clawson said, adding that he has been talking to Kennedy.
The original contract called for Clawson to develop the website, which he has completed, and to train the webmaster.
Clawson said that the site is easy to maintain, but it’s more than just posting updates.
“It’s almost like being a concierge,” said Clawson, and explained that someone needs to respond to questions and make referrals.
Also, since its purpose is to promote tourism, Clawson said that ideally a marketing component would be included as part of an overall county campaign to attract visitors.
“They need a marketing plan, not just a website,” he said.
But the county has a good foundation from which to work.
Clawson said he developed the website with a lot of capabilities that just need to be implemented.
And since Clawson is also a photographer, the site is filled with beautiful photos depicting the county, all of which now belong to Plumas County.
Clawson explained that unlike plumascounty.org, which was owned by Plumas Corporation, the new website is owned by the county.
“Everything we did for them is now their property,” Clawson said. “They wanted possession of the website.”
So now the county owns a website, but what they do with it still needs to be determined.