Revamped website coming soon

by Cole Dittmer
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winter promo and drawbridge PR continue

New upgrades to the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau’s official tourism site for Wrightsville Beach were presented Tuesday, Feb. 12, during the Wrightsville Beach Marketing Advisory Committee’s monthly meeting. 

Pete DiMalo, director of business strategy for Fuel Interactive — the CVB’s web design and analytics firm — said the new edition of the website was very close to launching. 

Part of the committee’s FY 2012-14 budget, the upgrades include an improvement of the site’s internal search engine capabilities like the option for multiple search filters and a customization of the search options for each destination. DiMarlo said these features would allow the site’s visitors to find exactly the type of hotel, restaurant or store they want in Wrightsville Beach. 

When it launches, DiMarlo said the load time for the site would be in the top 85 percent of all websites. A fast load time would help to ensure visitors stay on the site and prevent them from going to another tourism site, he said. 

In an effort to catalogue more emails of site visitors, the new site will have a pop up menu asking any first-time visitor for their email, as opposed to relying on visitors to sign up for emails on their own. DiMarlo said research from other sites has shown that this tactic increases email sign ups by 3,000 percent. 

From July to December 2012, the CVB’s technology systems administrator, Karla Thompson, said 44,094 people on the Wrightsville Beach site clicked onto a lodging industry partner’s website and 154,531 people on the main Wilmington and Beaches portal site moved to a Wrightsville Beach lodging industry partner’s site. 

Designed to promote increased traffic to the hotels and rentals in Wrightsville Beach, the WBMAC’s winter promotion giveaway of his and her Tag Heuer watches has generated a total of 40 room night bookings so far, said CVB executive vice president of marketing Shawn Braden. The winter promotion page created by the public relations and marketing firm French West Vaughan has generated 1,656 page views. Including the $3,000 spent to acquire the watches and the creative from French West Vaughan, the cost for the winter promotion initiative totals $27,600. 

French West Vaughan also presented its recommendations for handling the marketing of the Heide Trask Drawbridge lane closures. The public relations threats the drawbridge renovations pose are that proactive marketing of the lane closures and traffic alerts could work to deter visitors before they arrive. Conversely, the public relations opportunities include delivering messages about the long-term benefits of the renovations and that proactive outreach can also allow visitors to plan accordingly. 

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has launched the project website for the drawbridge renovations with details. However, the WBMAC asked French West Vaughan not to refer people to the site until certain details on the site are addressed, like the project completion date. Currently, the site only lists the full project completion date of the fall of 2013 and not the projected April date when all four lanes will be open. 


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