Discover the Southern Tier is a project proposal for the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Councils Upstate Revitalization Initiative efforts. The project will make Points Of Interest within the Southern Tier discoverable, accurate and appealing in the online search environment for their target audiences. By doing so, this will enhance the Southern Tier region as a tourist destination as well as promote these POIs as part of the larger vision that the area is a vibrant and culturally diverse ecosystem within which to live. In other words, illustrate there are many things to do in the Southern Tier and that it is a great place to live.
What Are Points Of Interest?
For this project we are categorizing POIs into three categories. These are:
First, geographic POIs such as historical sites; recreational POIs such as hiking trails, state forests and game lands, parks, ski “areas and trails”, boat launches, waterways, etc..; nature POIs such as waterfalls, glens, unique sites, etc…; other POIs include museums, farms, villages, towns and more.
Second, events POIs are events that occur at the same location at least once a year. Examples include music venues, fairs, art shows, concerts, farmer markets, and etc… While these POIs occur in the same place, they do so on a seasonal or infrequent basis.
POIs are also businesses that are commercial ventures. These POIs will be enhanced through our other proposal, Putting Southern Tier Businesses On The Digital Map.
How Are POIs Found In The Digital Landscape?
People don’t go online, they live online and this is largely through their mobile digital device. It is the prism through which people find and are connected to places and things in the digital landscape. This landscape is complex, expanding and constantly changing. This means that people can find information about and connect with POIs through a wide variety of online “venues”. These venues can range from:
- Google, Apple or Bing Map listing
- Google, Apple, Bing, Yahoo search
- Google My Business Listing which includes Google Maps
- 3rd party citation sites and apps such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, Foursquare, etc…
- 3rd party websites not affiliated with the POI
- Social Media ranging from Facebook, Instagram to Twitter and beyond
- Other Apps such as Google Field Trip, Eventbright, etc…
- Advertising such as Google Adwords, Facebook Ads, etc…
- Googles Knowledge Graph
- State Sponsored Apps
- Google’s Near Me Now feature
- GPS systems
- And more…
How Will POIs Be Made Discoverable, Accurate and Appealing To Their Target Audiences Through The Online Environment
To achieve our desired outcome of making POIs discoverable, accurate and appealing to their target audiences through the online environment, the following methodology will be used:
- Define, identify and catalog all POIs in the Southern Tier region.
- Define, identify, prioritize and catalog online venues through which POIs can be discovered.
- Analyze each POI to identify those online venues on which they have a presence as well as where they do not have a presence. For example, does each park in our region have a Yelp listing and is it claimed, optimized and managed?
- Claim and/or identify ownership of these online venues. If the online venue is already claimed, reach out and determine whether the current owner is appropriate and how to integrate that owner into the process.
- Correct if needed, bring into line with best practices, optimize and augment the POI on each online venue. For example, adding appealing images and robust descriptions.
- Monitor online venues for engagement and performance metrics such as reviews, check-ins, and etc… as well as for continue opportunities to make further improvements to the POIs presence on these venues.
- Leverage crowd-sourcing to augment these POIs through reviews, pictures, photospheres, social media, stories, and other similar user generated activities and content.
- Outreach to Google and Apple to ensure that “Street Views” are up to date and appealing as well as leveraging Googles Trekker program.
- Repeat and improve the process as needed.
Why Are Points Of Interest Important To Our Region?
POIs play several key roles in ensuring the economic vitality of our region. These include:
First, from a tourism perspective POIs serve as one of the reasons why someone would want to visit our area. If a tourist or traveler is visiting and/or passing through our area, their online search for any of our POIs should return a robust, accurate and attractive listing of available POIs. Without this search results, the visitor will come away with the notion that our area has little to offer.
Second, resident retention and attraction. To strengthen the area as a compelling place to live, making sure POIs are discoverable online adds to the fabric of “things to do”. In addition, this will aid employers when they are seeking out job candidates.
Finally, for local businesses POIs serve the purpose of increasing the pool of potential customer for the business. For example, if the town in which the local business resides has an art show and this produces an influx of visitors. This influx of visitors can provide a potential pool of customers from which to draw from.
It is important we measure of our efforts. As such this project will benchmark relevant metrics for each POI. For example:
- The number of reviews, check-ins, and similar interaction metrics
- The sentiment of reviews whether positive, neutral or negative
- The number of user generated interactions and content pieces
- Current state of the POIs digital presences such as is its Yelp listing claimed, is it listed on Google and Apple maps, etc…
With these metrics benchmarked, this project will seek to lift each of the metrics. In addition, we will document the progress for each POI as it becomes more inline with best practices in the digital landscape.
This project proposal ties directly into to the Southern Tiers Regional Economic Development Councils position paper titled Promoting the Southern Tier’s Innovative Culture. By ensuring Points Of Interest within the Southern Tier are discover-able, accurate and appealing in the online search environment for their target audiences, we can “make the Southern Tier a well-recognized and highly desirable place to visit, live, and grow a business.”
Relevant parties seeking the detailed project proposal which contains supporting facts, figures, methodologies and more, can either reference URI – CFA application 58388 or contact the author for further information on gaining access to the PDF version of the proposal.