Georgetown County’s Tourism Management Commission (TMC) met at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14 at The Lachicotte Company in Pawleys Island. A quorum was present.

Lauren Cobb, TMC’s Marketing Director, gave a brief overview of year-to-date financials. The TMC remains approximately $60,000 under budget with regard to year-to-date marketing expenditures. As noted in previous meetings, a change in Google algorithms explains a considerable drop in organic search numbers but is not seen as a major concern. That detail noted, efforts to increase web traffic are being researched consistently. Cobb reiterated what Internet-savvy business owners know: it is no longer enough to force relevant search terms into weak writing. More than ever before “content is king;” it must engage, entertain and motivate sharing.

Other details included web analysis and social media reports in line with forecasted numbers. Ms. Cobb spoke with Scott Proctor after the November 15 County Council meeting regarding an answer from the state relative to an alleged overpayment. The State Treasurer’s office has promised to respond. If projections are correct, the County will receive approximately $230,000 around the end of October.

Georgetown County is showing an approximate ten percent, year-to-date increase in Accommodations Tax collections, while Coastal Carolina University reports indicate October numbers are down approximately 9.1% over last year (inclusive of Horry and Georgetown County reports). A new Visitors’ Guide is expected to drive numbers higher.

A signed agreement regarding the fall 65% A-Tax awarded the County $100,300. A check will be cut on or before November 22. At that time, because the County will have more than $250,000 in the bank, it is the Auditor’s recommendation that monies be divided in two accounts in separate banks. This motion was approved.

The Hammock Coast’s new website calendar is more user-friendly and allows locals to post events. Businesses and non-profits are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity. Businesses can post special offers including maps. All posts will be reviewed and approved before going live on the website. Additionally, special offers are tweaked for SEO purposes and reposted on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Current website activity suggests 80% of the site’s new visitors are unique. Google remains the top referral site. Twitter referrals are also on the rise.

The TMC was presented with four advertising opportunities totaling $7,745; Ms. Cobb recommended approval of these expenditures, including $966 to American Road Magazine, Virginia Sportsman, Southern Tourism Guide and Southeastern Tourism Guide’s Platinum Online Package. A motion passed with no board member abstaining.

Cobb presented recommendations with regard to a new visitors guide. Proposals were delivered by Great Southern Publishers and Leisure Media 360. A third proposal was dismissed as incomplete. Leisure Media 360 from Virginia proposed a self-fold, rack-card friendly piece. Comparable jobs in their portfolio included Virginia Blue Ridge and Roanoke Valley. However, although their proposal projected lower ad sales and less income, Great Southern Publishers won the bid because they have a strong track record of sales experience in this geographic area. Board member Will Dieter – concerned about giving business to an out-of-area company – inquired as to whether or not similar area publications and Chamber members were contacted with regard to helping the Chamber create a similar fulfillment piece, but that question was never answered.

The next meeting will be held on Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m. at The Lachicotte Company. Meetings are open to the public.