SHERIDAN — What is the local tourism industry doing well? And what can it do to increase its reach and impact?
Those are the questions being asked by a survey currently in circulation through Sheridan County Travel and Tourism. According to STT Executive Director Shawn Parker, the survey is part of the organization’s strategic planning process to determine its goals for the next five years.
“It’s a long survey with 60 questions that range from inventory questions like ‘Do we have enough hotel rooms?’ to questions about our attractions and whether we offer the kind of things that draw people in,” Parker said. “We want to figure out what can be improved and what our strengths and gaps are in our local tourism industry.”
As of last week, STT had received 66 responses to the survey, and was hoping to have around 100 by the time the survey closes this Friday, Parker said.
According to Tod Windsor, who is on his second term on the STT board, the board welcomes as much community input as possible while developing a document that “helps guide and focus the direction and tasks for STT.”
“While Shawn and the board have an idea of what is important, community input is extremely valuable because it either lets us know if we are headed in the right direction or if we are missing something that might be obvious to others,” Windsor said. “Sometimes, if one is too close to something, it is easy to forget about what else is available.”
Board Vice President Zane Garstad agreed.
“Our community is what makes this place so special, and it is important our community has input on how we move forward,” Garstad said.
STT and Young Strategies Inc. will conduct a strategic planning meeting Oct. 22 to review the survey results and start developing a plan. The community is encouraged to attend the meeting and provide further feedback, Parker said. A venue and time for the meeting has not been set yet.
“The meeting will involve distilling down all the answers and determining our way forward,” Parker said. “The data may tell us we need to do something as simple as improving signage or as complex as going after a different market demographic. Either way, we’ll use the data to plan and adjust the work we already do and build on the foundation we have already.”
This year’s process marks the second time Parker has been involved in STT’s strategic planning. The last planning process took place six years ago, just as Parker came into the executive director position.
“Our last plan was pretty ambitious, especially since I was brand new when we set out to revamp everything,” Parker said. “We had several goals including doing our own media in-house and creating a film production department, both of which we have accomplished. I think the last five years have been a complete success in terms of where we were to where we are now. But there is always room for growth, and this process will show us how to get there.”
The STT survey is available at bit.ly/3oAVriy through Oct. 8. The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete.