As you might imagine, I get a fair share of phone calls and e-mails each day but one of the biggest challenges I face in my line of work is that many people, even after all of these years, don’t really know what a chamber does.
If I was to hazard to guess, many believe our work only entails the hospitality sector, attracting and retaining visitors to our lovely corner of the world. While that is an important part of what we do, it is by no means the end all. If you read this column to the end, you might even find that we can help many of you in the days and weeks to come, with information you might find helpful.
Few realize how extensive and huge our web site is, but I think many of you are still wondering how does that affect me, that I don’t need information to travel to my own area. Many in the chamber world have heard me rattle off this fact over the years, but it bears repeating, that our web site is the most respected site in the region to find services, outside the Caledonian-Record.
Now, you may think I am throwing the paper a bone by saying that, but as a former newspaper editor and longtime chamber director, I know the importance of this publication to the region… but I digress.
Did you realize that 50 percent of our membership comes from the service sector? We have almost every service under the sun? Say you need chimney cleaning; it’s on our web site. Bottle redemption center, a cemetery, a civil engineer and even art restoration? It’s there, and we are not even out of the Cs. In all, we have 87 different service categories, in addition to many hospitality, agriculture, education, health services, lodging, manufacturing, media and restaurant resources, all at your fingertips.
Need help in the construction area? We have 25 different sub-categories to find what you need. How about retail? There are 60. You can find anything from flowers to snowmobiles, and everything in between. I am going to try to read your mind and answer the obvious question, though, and that is, “How are we different from Google?”
In one word, it all relates to trust. While Google may be based on a very impressive algorithm, reaching its tentacles out to the entire world wide web to find what you typed in the search bar, how many times have you looked for an item and got a service in Ohio instead? Poor Mr. Google doesn’t know a Danville, Vt. from a Danville, Calif., but we do. I will give Google credit, however, for alerting me there were 24 Danvilles in the United States and one in South Africa.
Trust is important. Google doesn’t understand how difficult it is to part with your hard-earned money when looking for a service, that you need to know it will be done right, but we do. Did you know that consumers are 80 percent more likely to use a service from a chamber member than from someone who is not?! When is the last time a presidential candidate got 80 percent of the vote? I can’t tell you because Google wants to tell me which candidate got 80 million votes, not what I asked. Google is helpful, but not perfect.
While today’s lesson may be on our web site’s services, I will be detailing more of what the chamber does in the weeks to come. Until then, I will throw you a sample of what you might learn. Need to know when moose season is? Yup, that is on our web site as well.
Darcie McCann is the executive director of the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce.