Have you ever heard about an event after it happened and thought you would have liked to attend, had you heard about it in advance? At the Chamber we hear this frequently. Sometimes people ask why events aren't marketed better. Or they say they heard something about an event but then couldn't find any additional information.
Lack of knowledge about community events is common and not unique to this community. As an example, consider the Chamber's grub crawl for a moment. We sell out of tickets for this event every year. But it never fails that we have people tell us they wish they would have known about it in advance because they would have liked to attend.
Like many others who organize events, we put information on the grub crawl in the newspaper, on several radio stations and on tTV. We post it on all of our social media, email past participants, hang up posters around town and at participating establishments, post it on all community event websites and our own website, and we encourage our volunteers to spread the word and help sell tickets. This is quite a bit of marketing. Why is it that some people still don't hear about it?
We are inundated with messages all day long, every day. We all have busy lives. So paying attention to the bombardment of messages is challenging to say the least.
So how can both the event organizers and the potential attendees make this process easier? I want to take some time to tell you about a new product brought to you by the Alpena Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. These two organizations have partnered to bring you the mobile application for your smartphone or other mobile device called, "Experience Alpena, MI."
The purpose of this app is much broader than providing information on local events, but that's the part I want to focus on today. Briefly, other features of the app include information on where to stay (hotels, motels, cabins, campgrounds, etc.), where to play (indoor and outdoor recreation and entertainment) and places to eat. The app also contains information on parking and professional services. Additionally, you can find sample itineraries (looking for an entire day filled with activities for active people?), and you can use the "near me" feature to locate which places are closest to you at that very minute.
These features are all great, but the events feature is the function the Chamber was really looking forward to for local residents. Any events that are submitted to the community calendar of events (submitted at www.alpenacvb.com, or by contacting the Chamber) are also added to the app. Right at your fingertips you can access event dates, times, locations, ticket costs, and contact information.
In a perfect situation, with the addition of this app to community resources, there would be no more complaints from smartphone users about missing an event because someone didn't know about it or couldn't find additional information on it. But, as with all resources, it is only as good as the input. Staff working on the app only knows about events that are submitted. And event information on the app is only helpful if the user chooses to download the app and browse the information regularly.
The purpose of this article was twofold. First, to inform you about this great new resource. And second, to remind you that resources are only as good the information input and user commitment. Please consider downloading the app so you can have community information at your fingertips. And if you are involved in event planning for an organization or community event, please remember to submit the information to the Chamber or CVB staff so it can be added to this comprehensive list of events. Your participation helps us act more cohesively as a community, providing better customer service to our visitors and residents.
Jackie Krawczak is the executive director of the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column runs bi-weekly on Tuesdays. Follow Jackie on Twitter @jkrawczak.