Tourism commission seeks software to strengthen community

By Paige Nash

The Webster Parish Convention and Tourism Commission (WPCVC) is currently exploring options when it comes to software that will strengthen community- partner relations, visitor activity and economic development.  

WPCVC Executive Director Serena Gray recently participated in a demonstration and conference call with Simpleview- a customer relations management software. This software is currently popular amongst tourism commissions due to its ability to keep all activities in one place.  

“It is also used for community partner relations,” said Gray. “Every partner you establish with Simpleview has their own username and login to see their business listing or business history with the tourism office.” 

If a local business signs up to access this software, they will be able to view how many clicks their venue has received and how many have been booked.  

This will allow local venues and overnight accommodation locations an opportunity to see the work the tourism is putting in firsthand. 

“We have gotten a lot of feedback over the past few years, asking what you are doing for us? It is hard to explain how it all works together. We had to build something here that brings people into our community and now that we have that, we can finally start finding ways to market and sell Webster Parish,” said Gray.  

Gray feels this type of software will provide concrete evidence that she is doing the work required to bring visitors to the parish. She said, “I have said that I have attended these shows or that I’ve gone here and had these conversations, but they want to see heads in beds, and I get that.” 

This software will track leads and allow the user to send out a message that connects all local vendors, caterers, hotels, or whichever type of accommodation a particular sales opportunity is searching for.  

“It would say this is a request for proposal. If you can accommodate this, then this is how you fill out the form. It pulls all that back into the software, so that I can submit that to the person who is leading the tour and from there it is in their hands, and they can choose who they want to use or who can accommodate them best,” said Gray.  

The Simpleview software costs $5,000 for the initial fee that will include building the software and then $6,000 annually after that. It is priced by the size of the individual organization.  

“There are other programs out there that do similar things, however they are just not in our price point,” said Gray.  

The WPCVC is considering putting this fee into next year’s budget and possibly launching it in 2024.  

While researching other software systems, like Simpleview, Gray also participated in a demo with PlacerAI. This software specifically tracks visitor activity, demographics and web analytics. 

Gray used the Scottish Tartan Festival as an example. She had PlacerAI place a geofence in the downtown Minden area during the duration of the festival. She said, “They told us there were about 1,700 people who were at the event. I believe that number was only ticket sales. During the demo I had them run a geofence around downtown Minden where the festival took place and their geofence was able to capture cell phone data for 3,000 people.” 

This discrepancy between the two numbers could be due to ticket sales not including staff members, entertainment and the number of children who got into the event free of charge.   

This software also works in the lane of economic development. It is able to identify square footage, street traffic and average household annual income of the area. This is important information for retailers who are interested in setting up shop in the parish.  

They base their pricing on population size. For Webster Parish as a whole, it would run the WPCVC $26,000 annually.  

To cut costs, Gray suggested that the tourism commission partner with the individual cities and chambers, so that they could have access and utilize the software as well. 

“I just thought it was a great opportunity to partner with the local community to show that we have a leg in the game. We have a dog in the fight when it comes to economic development,” said Gray. “I think we can do more to support economic development in our communities.” 

The commission will be looking into both software options in more detail over the coming months, as well as setting up meetings with local governments to establish possible partnerships.