On the vividly colored computer screen, pictures of Lake Roesiger Park fade in a montage in a framed box. Next to it, another colorful box shows a link to the park website, the phone number, which can be dialed instantly from a mobile device, and a map with the park’s location. The button called Share allows the visitor to post the link to the park on any of several dozen social media sites.
And another button says, “Add to my visit.”
Click that, and it goes on a list of things you want to do while you are visiting the Sky Valley.
It’s just one of many cutting edge features found on www.choosemonroe.com, the Monroe Chamber of Commerce’s website, and all the chamber paid for the sophisticated site is about $2,000.
A tour of the site can take most of an hour, cruising through the links.
The homepage features things to do, places to go, and links to local restaurants, city pages, and news stories from the Monroe Monitor.
A link called “Things to Do” takes you to links to outdoor recreation, dining, attractions, events, the downtown, shopping and more. “Stay here” takes you to hotels and campgrounds.
“Go Local” isn’t geared to visitors as much as it is people who live in the area. It includes links to churches, community services, restaurants, retail, professional services and more.
“We know that local people want to know what’s local; that’s what statistics show,” said Bennett.
Another button takes you to “Directions/Maps,” where you’ll find an interactive map showing you what is in your immediate vicinity. If viewed from a handheld device, it can tell you what you can find within walking or driving distance.
The “Itinerary” button is something like your shopping cart on a shopping site. It shows the items you have chosen with the “Add to my visit” buttons, and you can easily share your itinerary by email.
The last link, to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce page, has information about the chamber, a history of Monroe and more.
The site is meant to make it very easy for anyone planning to visit Monroe to plan their stay.
But it has a whole separate side to it, as well.
“There’s a back side that’s for members only,” said Bennett. Members can contact each other through it and are included in a directory of businesses.
“The hope is that will become more of a networking tool. People can email straight through it, find out how to connect, what chiropractor needs his place painted and that sort of thing to increase business, member-to-member,” Bennett said.
And using the tools on the site, they can keep track of visits, click-throughs and more.
Furthermore, each Chamber of Commerce member gets a webpage of their own, to which they can upload photos, link to other webpages or social media sites, embed videos and more.
For most chambers of commerce, a site like this would run easily $30,000, said Bennett.
But Monroe’s cash-strapped chamber got it for merely $2,000 because it is a beta, a trial site created by web development company Carta Nova.
“We’ve been guinea pigs,” she said. “We’ve been a beta project for his company. We told him what we want and need and he put it together.”
To see the new site, visit www.choosemonroe.com.