Why an Interview,,,

Over the years we have been able to meet and talk with some very interesting people. They have shared with us their knowledge and have provided us with a great deal of insight as to how and why festivals and events work and why they are so important to our communities and to the Province of Ontario. With this in mind, we decided that we wanted you to meet and hear from some of the wonderful people who work so hard to provide us all with such wonderful Ontario Festivals and Events! We are pleased and proud to present "THE INSIDE SCOOP"!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Building Your Website

Over the past year or so, I have talked about the importance of festivals and events having good websites. In my last blog I described a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is a website designer/marketer. Over the next few blogs I am going to expand on what my friend told me. I don’t pretend to be a website expert, but over the last few years, in developing my website, www.ontariofestivalsvisited.ca, we have learned a few tricks. Some were by design, but most were by accident! The results, however, have given me a fairly successful website. When you type in “Ontario festivals”, we are consistently shown in the top 1-4 positions on the three major search engines, Google, Yahoo and MSN.
1.    Site Construction: Having a website is easy! With the right tools or the right amount of money anyone can have a website. However, having a website is like owning a car. If you have a poor engine you may or may not get to where you want to go. If you have a great engine, you will get to where you want to go with ease! If you have no engine… while you get the picture! Having a great “engine” is the only way to go, so make sure you find out how to get a great engine! Experienced web designers build websites to attract two types of visitors, human and search engines. Search engines are the most important because they direct humans to websites. Each visitor is looking for different things and so, as I said before to have to appeal to both to succeed. The construction of your website needs a sound foundation that includes all the fundamentals of successful sites, that is well written code. Search engines can and will penalize sites for poorly written code. So, if you are designing your website yourself, check with an expert to make sure your site is constructed properly. There are website evaluators out there who can help you and set you straight if need be. If you don’t want to design your own site, make sure you hire someone who has all the necessary skills to construct you site properly. Remember, a website that doesn’t attract search engines or humans is a site without an “engine”!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What’s In Your Website?

I have been thinking a lot lately about my websites. I want to know if they are as effective as I want (need) them to be. In talking with a web designer friend, I realized that they all needed to be re-evaluated! I asked him to explain what the key ingredients where for a successful website. He started to answer me in another language, techno speak! I told him to slow down and talk to me in a language I could understand, English! He did and we covered a wide range of topics. Here is a summary of our conversation. In future blogs I will try to explain his ideas more fully and hopefully in “plain” English!
1.    SEO or “Search Engine Optimization” – Simple put, getting search engines to recognize your site. Once a site is recognized it is categorized (keywords) and then listed in importance.
2.    Meta Tags and Keywords – These are words inserted in your website. They attract search engines to your site and its pages.
3.    Meta Description – This is the description that appears in you search engine listing
4.    Use of Keywords in Text – In order to emphasize keywords, they must be used often in the text of the web page
5.    Highlighting Text – Once keywords are chosen and inserted, they must be shown as being important. This is accomplished by highlighting (bold, italicized, underlined) each keyword.
6.    Web Pages – Each important page (home, about us, products, etc.) should be optimized (keywords, description, highlighting).
7.    Updating – Sites should be frequently updated and the information must be correct and consistent.
8.    Simplicity – Simplicity is best, especially the home page, in web design, page layout and contents.
9.    Website Layout – Sites should be easy to maneuver. Complicated site discourage visitors from surfing through your site’s pages.
10. Contact Information – Make sure that visitors to your site have a way of contacting you. Since the contact is being made via the internet, e-mail contact is a must.
11. Linking – Encouraging other website to link with yours is important. However, the linked sites should have relevancy to you business or site. Linking for the sake of linking is not a good move.
12. Traffic – Finally, the goal of every site should be increased traffic (visitors to your site). How you design and manage your site will determine its popularity and thus traffic.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What’s The Real Solution?

How many times have we heard politicians and special interest groups call for drastic legislation as a “knee-jerk” reaction to a problem? You don’t need a fish net to catch a fly!
Unfortunately many make far reaching demands without worrying about the consequences. And the problem is, once a law is on the books, it stays there! Rarely, if ever, is a law, good, bad or outdated, taken off the books! So, poorly thought out laws either create havoc or they are just ignored! Most of these groups and politicians are well meaning. They see a problem and want it corrected. That’s fine if it really does solve the problem, but too often the solution goes way beyond the actual problem, thus the net to catch a fly analogy. New laws must be thoroughly thought through and all of the ramification must be considered. Consider the banning of all plastic water bottles. I have heard towns and groups advocating banning them entirely. Why not work jointly with water companies and plastic bottle manufacturers to come up with a safe acceptable solution. Similarly I have heard the some groups want paper coffee cups banned. The same applies here, get all the interested parties together and fine a solution. Poorly thought out laws don’t serve anyone’s purpose!
Personally, I like the attitude of some of the festival organizers have taken. For example, the Guelph Hillside Festival was having problems with too many plastic water bottles. They wanted to reduce or eliminate their use. The Festivals solution was to develop a practical alternate. They decided to bring in a tank full of potable water and then sell re-usable aluminum water bottles that could be filled up for free! As a result of this innovative thinking they drastically reduced the plastic bottle waste! Then there is the Shelter Valley Folk Festival. They wanted to have a “green” festival. They wanted local products to be used and to have little waste. There solution was quite simple. Contract with local food vendors and make sure they were committed to using local produce. That was solution number one. The second solution for waste was just as simple. Invest in re-usable plates and cutlery and convince a whole bunch of people to volunteer to keep them washed! Now they enjoy a wonderful “green” festival, that is the pride of all those involved!
Rather than take draconian measures, each identified a challenge and then found intelligent solutions! Politician and advocacy groups would do well to take note!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

When The Going Gets Tough…

This year has been a disaster for many events. The cost of gas is higher. The economy is poor and the weather hasn’t co-operated! How many festivals and events will fail this year? For their community’s sake, I hope not many, but that may be just wishful thinking. However, there is hope. Gary and I were visiting a Fair a while ago and bumped into an old acquaintance. He is one of the long time organizers of the Cobourg Highland Games. The Cobourg Games, a one day event, was hit with one of the worst rainfalls! The parade and many of their events had to be moved indoors and, worse, had to be cancelled. Vendors left early and attendance, their life blood, was down to catastrophic levels. As a result the Games lost a great deal of money! Many committees would have thrown it the towel, but not the Cobourg Highland Games. They have had a proud tradition for over 50 years. My friend told me that they were in the process of organizing fundraisers to recoup their losses and planned on coming back next year bigger and better! I believe with the help of the Cobourg community they will do just that! If festivals and events are going to survive in today’s economy, their organizers are going to have to get tough and get going! Their communities are counting on them!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Step Up To The Plate…

How many times have you made a promise to do something and then forgotten to do it? Or, how many times have you asked someone to do something for you and they have forgotten? How did you feel when it happened to you? It’s definitely important to keep your word when family, friends and bosses are involved, but what about casual contacts? I believe it’s important to keep all of your promises. Have I ever messed up? Yes, but I really make a conscientious effort not to. I can’t tell you how many times Gary and I have asked someone to send us information about their event or product, and not received the information! It’s not only rude, it’s very poor business! I participated in many events where people have asked me to send information. I do, and most times I don’t get any response. it can be and is frustrating, but do I stop sending information? The answer is, of course, no. I guess some people become stilted and only go through the motions of promising to do something even though they have no intension of following through. They feel that they are just “wasting” their “valuable” time responding to someone who doesn’t really want the requested information! It’s too bad, in our case, because we usually want to promote their product or event on our website for free! If we don’t hear from them, we don’t promote! Look at the Babe Ruth. He struck out many more times than he hit and yet he was considered the greatest Baseball Player of all time! If you can’t or won’t follow-up, be honest, tell that to the person who requested the information. They may not like it, but they will at least respect you for telling them the truth! So, when you say that you are going to do something, “Step up to the plate” and “follow through”, you may hit a “HOME RUN”!