For many months I have been mulling over the best way to create a "Visitor’s guide to Floyd County" that would help bring tourist business and dollars to Floyd County.
This guide must be updated frequently, would have room for pictures and articles about Floyd history, points of interest, and stories about Floyd restaurants and shops and artisans…and all of this should be compact enough to carry around in your pocket and should cost less than $4.95
Well, I’m not there yet, but I have already investigated several approaches that will not get me there. Printing a pocket book sized version of a guide to the best of Floyd involves so many compromises, like leaving out color images, and is so expensive using local printers that I’ve opted for an "out of the box solution".
Let me review the minimum requirements for making this Guide to Floyd a must-have tourist item:
It should be affordable and some version of it should be free
It should be continually kept up to date
It should have color photos of reasonably high quality
It should be easy to find information through an index or other means
There should be a way for readers to provide instant feedback on errors or needed changes
There should be accurate maps with detailed directions for every point of interest
If I have left anything out, just leave a comment.
I think the "Guide" should eventually be portable so it can be carried around in a Treo or equivalent, but the first step is to assemble the information and make it available even while it is being assembled. To that end, I have started a website with maps and pictures which someone can print out on their own and carry around until we have a more sophisticated delivery system.
What I wish to create is a website that attempts to answer the questions: what can I do in Floyd in an afternoon, a day, a weekend, or for the summer? It will also attempt to answer the questions regarding who to call for medical help, auto repair, or any of the other non-intended consequences of a vacation trip. It can even be expanded to cover the questions asked by those who are thinking of moving to Floyd.
I have already launched the prototype website and it is called Discover Floyd County. I will populate it with articles from my weblog and articles from other writers. This is not intended to be a solitary effort as I would like to open the game to whoever would like to become an editor and contribute.
I would like to see an editor for farm stories and agritours, and an editor to cover shopping recommendations for visitors. Editors for spinning and weaving, craft editors, fine arts editors, a historical editor and so forth.
The major product of this website and any ongoing publications is to help people discover what is here in Floyd that they can relate to. If we can set visitor expectations properly, we will have happy visitors and happy merchants, artisans, and innkeepers.
When people come here and they are already familiar with Floyd culture and resources and the lack thereof, they merge seamlessly into County activity and are able to contribute and feel a sense of accomplishment from the very beginning.
The students at the Jacksonville Center are a living example that this can be done and everyone benefits.
I do not see this website and guide generating money directly for several years, so it will carry advertisements to help defray expenses and cover the cost of Friday Pizza parties for those contributing to the website.
If you would like to get in on the ground floor and see where this takes us, your help is very welcome. If you would like to help with the development of a long-term business plan, that could prove very interesting also.
Think of this as a grass-roots effort to attract visitors, money, and even settlers in a way that will keep Floyd Green.