On Friday, May 20, a new website to promote the area’s attractions is going live at www.visitgering.com.
Karla Niedan-Streeks, executive director of the Gering Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCVB), said the group is doing a “soft launch” of the site on Friday. People are invited to look over the site and offer suggestions on how it can be improved. The official “hard launch” will be during the Memorial Day weekend.
“The soft launch is an opportunity for our tourism partners to visit the site and determine whether the site is easy to maneuver,” Niedan-Streeks said. “They’ll also tell us whether the pictures are the ones they want to use for their attractions.”
Last January, GCVB hired the Pickering Creative Group in Lincoln to design a new website for them. Pickering has a specialty in creating tourism related websites and has won several awards for its design of a site for the Willa Cather Museum.
“The new site they’re designing has solid research behind it as far as data collection,” Niedan-Streeks said. “The site has very powerful messages with a lot of great photography. It’s an entirely fresh look to promote what Gering has to offer.”
All tourism websites are geared toward their top tourism audiences, although other groups are targeted as well.
“Our top target market is meeting planners,” Niedan-Streeks said. “The home page will have appeal to everyone who visits, but we’ll be more geared toward conventions, tour groups and the like. The site will offer great information so meeting planners can make an informed decision about bringing a group to Gering.”
The “second layer” of target visitors is the leisure travelers who may want to visit western Nebraska. The site features area attractions and what travelers can do while in the area. Also featured is a list of dining establishments, featuring recommendations from locals about their favorite places to eat.
“It’s a very personalized site,” Neidan-Streeks said. “It’s not a huge site, but we had it designed that way for it would be easy for people to maneuver and get the information they need.”
The former GCVB site was created about six years ago. Tourism related groups usually update their sites about every four to five years. Gering’s was scheduled for an overhaul in 2012, but when the site was hacked on the host server, it would have been too risky to attempt retrieving the information. So, the date was moved ahead a year.
The new website might get a welcome boost in visitation, thanks to an internationally distributed magazine. The 2011 edition of “Discover America” features a two-page interior photo of Scotts Bluff National Monument and the covered wagons in front of the visitor center.
“That announcement was just like a gift,” Niedan-Streeks said. “That magazine is published in eight countries and eight languages. The history of the Oregon Trail and the westward migration has a lot of interest for people not just in America, but around the world.”
Ken Mabery, superintendent of Scotts Bluff National Monument, agreed. He said he was blown away about their inclusion in “Discover America” because he didn’t know they were under consideration.
“A feature like this is beneficial to the entire area,” Mabery said. “Anytime we draw attention to any of the attractions in the valley, we all benefit. It lets people know there are things to see and do in western Nebraska. We’re an overlooked area, so national attention will help.”
Mabery added that many people have already made their travel plans for 2001, but he expects increased interest over the next few years.