Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Laura Meadows delivers her annual report to commissioners at their Aug. 26 meeting.

Upshur CVB bolsters internet presence amid pandemic, despite battling tourism industry challenges

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau strengthened their internet presence during the pandemic, and agency officials hope in-person events become feasible again in the upcoming year.

Executive Director of the Upshur County Convention and Visitors Bureau Laura Meadows attended the Aug. 26 Upshur County Commission meeting to give an annual update on the CVB.

“Typically, we have better years than this one, but even with a lot of struggles in the tourism industry and for CVBs across the state, we were able to accomplish a few things, so I wanted to share that,” Meadows said.

The website saw 24,000 visits last year.

“We were able to continue maintaining our website and distributing our travel guide, we get regular traffic to our website,” Meadows said. “Our website is a great resource for basic inventory of places to eat, places to shop and places to stay. We also have a pretty active blog section of all the videos that we have created, and there are people going to our events calendar, so it’s widely used and it’s just one of our great resources that are available.”

She said the CVB has distributed about 120,000 travel guides since its inception.

“Every year we do a refresh and we’re working on that for this upcoming year, so we will continue to provide that service,” Meadows said. “Our social media and our E-newsletters really carried us last year because we were so restricted in what kind of funding we had to do serious advertising campaigns and promotions, so we relied heavily on our Facebook page just to get us through. We were able to do some small advertising campaigns for Facebook, but it’s a free service and you can reach a lot of people so we used that to our benefit this past year, and you can see that increasing and growing.”

The CVB developed rack cards, a new website for the James Curry Library and a new website for the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.

“The website for the festival went live a few weeks ago; we haven’t done any huge promotion on that because there’s still a few little odds and ends to be to tweaked, but it is up and ready and it’ll be ready for the 2022 festival,” Meadows said. “It’s a huge improvement from what they had before. We also helped with the Festival Friday’s rack cards, so we designed and printed those and then we distribute those on behalf of Festival Fridays.”

The Event Center on Brushy Fork Road saw a dip in events but hosted several vaccination clinics last year.

“The majority of the year, there were tremendous restrictions on gatherings and what we could do and how we could abide by them — every mandate, every law that was passed down certainly affected us,” Meadows said. “We’re usually pushing 40 events in the course of the year, but we had right around 14. We were able to accommodate a lot of groups; hosting the vaccination clinic at the facility was a great service and it helped keep our doors open, so that was wonderful.”

“This upcoming year is looking great,” she added, “and we’re hoping that gatherings are tremendously effective this fall and winter, but we’re just kind of rolling with the punches at this point.”

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