(By Amy Byres Staff Reporter for the Rio Rancho Observer)
RIO RANCHO, N.M. — Sandoval County’s Tourism Department surfs to the modern age with the launch of its new website, seesandoval.org.
“We knew there was a role for tourism to serve in the county as an economic sector,” said Director of County Business and Economic Development Dora M. Dominguez.
She said there was value in investing in a new website to tell the story of what it means to “eat, stay, play.” The website frames a new logo and color scheme.
Belle Allen, tourism and event coordinator for Sandoval County, is excited about the business directory and event listings. The tourism website is more interactive with the community, Allen said.
Businesses can upload a profile with pictures, a menu, coupons and information. These profiles link to a directory where visitors can search for a certain type of cuisine or entertainment.
Ultimately, Allen would like to make a business owner say, “I have a new business; I am going to the tourism website!”
“One of the other things that is so fantastic about this site, and the ability for basically anyone to submit something, is that it gives us the opportunity to make (our directory) more robust,” she said.
Allen verifies all businesses that submit a profile.
“And it’s cool to learn about what little hidden treasures we didn’t realize were in the most rural areas of our county. They now have a platform to tell people about them,” she said.
The biggest expense was converting the website to WordPress.
There was a learning process to develop a new website for the tourism department, Allen said.
“It is the integration of new, much more modern technology,” she said.
“So I think this is something that became the purview of IT. (The county has) an IT department of course. And we have people in there who are very adept at the web stuff, but the website would have been another item of their responsibility; and they have a whole county to take care of,” Allen said.
It made sense to go with a contractor, she said.
The county partnered with Simply Design about a year ago, spending just over $5,000, according to Dominguez.
“This isn’t done; the website is a work in progress,” she said.
Allen and her team will review analytics and adjust the website according to trends.
She expects to launch phase two of the website in about six months.
Allen would like to add features for people to be able to build an itinerary of their visit to Sandoval County.