Solvang Chamber aiming to engage residents, as well as tourists

Aug 15, 2017
Solvang Chamber aiming to engage residents, as well as tourists
The Landsby Hotel on Mission Drive near Atterdag Road is among many businesses working with Solvang's Chamber of Commerce to promote local involvement.

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Solvang’s Chamber of Commerce is on a mission to bring area residents into the fold in addition to tourists, after receiving an $85,000 grant from the city to promote local businesses, community events and group activities.

Tracy Beard, executive director, said the money represents the largest economic grant ever given to the Chamber by the city.

A tireless promoter of Solvang, Beard spoke from her modest desk at the Chamber’s new upstairs offices on 485 Alisal Road and provided a list of projects the organization is spearheading to interest local residents — from Go Green projects to HR management classes to senior issues.

“With that funding, we’ll be printing a new business directory,” Beard said.

Beard held up Solvang’s new directory, which includes a map of Solvang’s business district with color-coded markers that match 201 restaurants, hotels, art galleries, shops and other businesses along with contact information. It will soon be translated into Chinese to appeal to the 230,000 annual visitors who arrived in the Santa Ynez Valley from China last year, according to the Chamber, which estimates 1.5 million tourists visit the city annually.

“We are looking at becoming an art and music destination, in addition to a retail-shopping destination,” Beard said. “We’re not trying to downplay tourism, but we have residents here.”

Noting that Solvang’s residents are tight-knit and supportive of local businesses, Beard said the Chamber wants to send a message: Residents are vital to the community’s growth and development.

Without missing a beat, she held up a small, colorful flier for Bea’s Barn Babies, a local boutique on Alisal Road.

“We really do have great stores out there,” Beard said, noting that Bea’s recently produced two TV commercials that ran on local stations, from Paso Robles to Carpinteria. The TV ads promote the “shop local” theme that’s permeating small to mid-size cities across the United States. Bea’s posted its commercials to the Chamber’s website — at no charge — and Beard encourages other local businesses to produce and post similar videos.

Engaging residents

Holding up her cell phone, she played four videos, now visible on the website. Each meets her stated criteria: short, professional, well-narrated, engaging and informative. In addition to adding a multimedia dimension to the Chamber’s website, the videos are expected to generate additional online traffic. Beard said that out of 49 visitors to the website on a recent day, 16 people clicked links to other pages — a click-ratio of more than 30 percent.

Read the full article at  Santa Ynez Valley News

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