Connectivity key to tourism in county

A surprised Ruth Taylor accepted the first ever Tourism Person of the Year award from Cass Scenic Railroad State Park’s Mary Snyder during the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau partners’ luncheon held at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Taylor was selected as recipient of the award for her tireless efforts in promoting tourism in Pocahontas County and the state. S. Stewart photo
A surprised Ruth Taylor accepted the first ever Tourism Person of the Year award from Cass Scenic Railroad State Park’s Mary Snyder during the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau partners’ luncheon held at the Pocahontas County Opera House. Taylor was selected as recipient of the award for her tireless efforts in promoting tourism in Pocahontas County and the state. S. Stewart photo

Taylor named Tourism Person of the Year

At the annual partners luncheon hosted by the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, executive director Cara Rose said tourism is all about connectivity. Tourists are turning to their smart phones, computers and social media to find the perfect place to visit and vacation.

“Connectivity is kind of a trend,” Rose said. “I got to thinking about this. In 1900, that would have been a Sunday visit where you walked down the dirt road and visited with your neighbor on a Sunday, or had a social after church. In 1950, you would have gotten on the telephone where people could get all the gossip in a matter of minutes. In 2014, it’s social media.
“People do want to be connected or more importantly, in Pocahontas County, they want to know they have the option to be connected,” she continued. “Two thirds of people use social media as a way to stay connected to current friends and family. Social media is also a way for people to find information, travel information. [It] is a way to share information with those people on our part.”

To meet the needs of visitors, Rose said it is important for businesses to be up-to-date on technology and the connectivity availability in their area.

“You need to advocate for improved Internet service,” she said. “As you know, living in Pocahontas County, we do have some challenges with that. Provide free wifi for your guests. Know where cell phone service is available in this county if it is not available in your area.”

To reach out to visitors who are using the Internet more and more, Rose said it is important for businesses to think outside the box when marketing themselves.

“Today, several ways to grow your audience and customer base via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,” she said. “Use the outlets. Again, we can see that people are using them. People can make booking decisions, travel decisions, vacation plans in a very short time period. For us to be prepared for that, we need information up-to-date on our websites. We need to be prepared.”

CVB marketing and media specialist Gail Hyer and Presidio Studios owner Timothy Luce gave a presentation on options for web advertising, as well as samples for newspapers and magazines.

“We work on media campaigns, getting information out to seventeen to twenty-five million people,” Hyer said. “We’re trying to stay on top of where people get their information.”

At the highlight of the luncheon, Rose took the podium to make a very special presentation. The first Tourism Person of the Year award, which was presented to Ruth Taylor.

“The tourism industry is truly made up of people like yourselves and without people, there would be no industry,” Rose began. “Pocahontas County is very fortunate to have many tourism leaders in our midst. Because of this, the CVB has decided it is only fitting that we recognize individuals who have had an influence on our industry.”

The CVB selected Taylor for her tireless efforts in promoting tourism in Pocahontas County, regionally and state-wide.

“She went above and beyond to bring awareness to the tourism industry in the state and in this county,” Rose said. “She’s traveled far and wide to promote Pocahontas County as a motor coach destination. She was one of the first hospitality trainers in West Virginia and instrumental in establishing a hospitality program at D&E College, and also offering a tourism diplomacy class to the board of education in the early 1980s.”

Taylor has also served on the Potomac Highlands Travel Council, was a founding member of the CVB, helped establish the hotel/motel tax in Pocahontas County, began the eighth grade luncheon, serves on West Virginia Fairs and Festivals and West Virginia Hospitality Travel Association.

She is currently active with the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace, the Little Levels Heritage Fair and Dramas, Fairs and Festivals.

“Her passion remains evident in all she does for tourism in this county and the state,” Rose said. “She’s been very generous mentoring me for nearly thirty years and for that I will be forever grateful.”

A shocked Taylor accepted the award and thanked the CVB for the recognition.

“I definitely was not expecting this. I thought it was going to be Mike Smith,” she said, laughing. “It’s a pleasure to see younger people getting involved and taking over because I told Cara and everybody, I’m going to be seventy next year and when I’m seventy, I’m not going to be president, director or chairman of anything.

“But I had fun doing it.”

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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