Tourism website outlet for Englewood businesses

ENGLEWOOD — A new website, englewoodvisitors.com, provides a directory of sorts for businesses and tourist destinations.

The website was started by Englewood promoter Jack Gray of Gray Matter Enterprises and real estate broker Erick Phelps of Corin Bay Real Estate.

‘It kind of came about through Erick, who approached me and wanted to put something together to promote the local tourism and to be an all-inclusive website that we can take and promote all businesses,’ Gray said. ‘That will be the central and focal point. We have a lot of different entities in the area that are doing things, but nobody seemed like they had a handle on everything.’

The purpose of the website is to bring more dollars to Englewood specifically during the off-season, its creators say.

‘When I (say) Englewood, I mean the whole Cape Haze peninsula,’ Phelps said. ‘There’s basically three roads that get out of the Cape Haze peninsula, and generally speaking most people don’t know that Englewood is here.’

Gray was volunteer tourism director for the Englewood-Cape Haze Chamber of Commerce for three years.

‘The concept was that it would almost be a magazine,’ Gray said. ‘We’re also taking it and integrating other services … that will help us promote and market the Englewood area.’

One of the services the site uses is Trip Advisor. Users can post their pictures, information and reviews about businesses. The site also incorporates global database services from Infoseek, Axiom and Super Media, where they parse information to third-party vendors.

‘We’re encouraging people to update their information, keep things relevant and current on these global databases,’ Gray said. ‘Not only does it make it relevant and pertinent on our website, but everyone else who gets that information now has that corrected on their website. We’re kind of looking at it from a macro perspective, and we’re creating an interface that will help promote individual businesses in the area.’

Lynn Wagenseil, an assistant manger at the Manasota Beach Club, uses the site and said she saw an improvement in sales.

‘We go on it every day,’ Wagenseil said. ‘When we get calls coming in for our guests, we are able to have them go to the website, look up any charters that they’re looking for, their fishing trips, and they’re able to book on their site and we’re in partnership with them.’

Everything is set up through the concierge site.

‘Everything I can ask for is on there,’ Wagenseil said. ‘The services they provide are free.’

The website offers visitors a means to book trips or lodgings through third-party businesses that sign up at the site.

Phelps said they have not looked at site traffic because they are still looking for ways to improve the site based on feedback.

‘What we wanted to do was draw all the assets into one place without restrictions of membership or money,’ Phelps said. ‘Obviously, people will be able to enhance their visibility, but it’s not going to be dependent on them paying to be identified.

‘To market in this area, you have to realize that they may not have $250 or $500 to advertise, but you want the public to know about them because that just benefits all of us.’

For more information go to englewoodvisitors.com.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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