UNCG projects offers business ideas

Posted on May 16, 2013

Reposted from the Mount Airy News

Students from the Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality Management Program at UNC-Greensboro returned to Mount Airy last week for the final presentations of their Community Partnership Projects.

The Surry County Economic Development Partnership coordinated the projects with Dr. Erick Byrd, professor of the Issues & Trends in Hospitality and Tourism class, which consisted of 24 students in the tourism program.

The final projects were presented at the Surry County Human Services Building, to an audience of local business and organization representatives.

LeeAnn Stokes, vice president of the Surry County EDP, said the community partnership with the university is a “wonderful opportunity for our businesses and a great complimentary service” for our community, and all businesses involved gained ideas about “what they can do differently and what opportunities they could identify from the presentations to implement and strengthen their marketing plans.”

Stokes said she was impressed by the presentations.

“A lot of what we saw during the presentations was the value of using social media and using sites such as Linked In and Groupon along with more widely known social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Also, several groups mentioned the use of hashtags, which was a good suggestion.”

Participating businesses and organizations included Cross Creek Country Club, the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, the Downtown Business Association, the Mount Airy Visitors Center, MAPS, Quality Inn of Mount Airy, Mayberry Toy Company, Mount Airy Parks and Recreation greenways, Main Oak Emporium, and Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies.

Byrd expressed thanks to the city of Mount Airy, the Surry County Economic Development Partnership, and all the businesses, agencies and organizations who hosted the group and worked with the students.

Each group presented a 10-minute overview of their projects.

The Cross Creek Country Club project, created by Pablo Alzate, Emily Baxter and Spencer Childress, focused on increasing membership and revenue. The students found that the club had 480 members with an average age in the lower 60s, so they explored ways for the club to bring in a younger demographic from surrounding areas, and suggested that young professionals in the Forsyth County and Winston-Salem area would be a good target market.

The Mount Airy Professionals of Surry project was created by Jordan Oldenkamp and April Bach. The students described MAPS as a “young professional organization that consists of individuals ages 21-39.” The group suggested it increase the perceived value of its $60 per year membership by offering activities such as more after-hours socials and group activities, a membership referral program, an online calender of events, free member workshops and also suggested an improvement for the website and an expansion in the use of social media outlets.

The Quality Inn project was designed by McKamie Wofford, Kathryn Richardson and Michelle Butler. Quality Inn wanted to increase tourism and occupancy rates during week days and winter months. The group suggested the business use Groupon to create discount opportunities, as well as utilize social media and a website to advertise assets of the hotel and spread news of local events and activities.

The Mount Airy Museum of Regional History group consisted of Julie Dean, Jennifer Herman and Trista Glass. The museum wanted ideas about how to effectively organize survey methods to create visitor surveys. The group suggested it offer an online survey through a free survey site that includes multiple choice and open-ended questions, and offer a link to the survey on all online media outlets.

Danielle Delcambre and Domenica DiNigro worked with the Downtown Business Association for their project, which had a goal to implement stronger marketing and increase its Internet presence. The group suggested it improve its Internet presence with a redesign of the website and more use of social media outlets besides Facebook. They also said to encourage visitors and those who follow the DBA on Facebook to tag pictures, “like” posts and pictures, and share information posted. They also suggested the use of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter — Hashtags such as #MountAiry or #MountAiryDBA added to photos or tweets.

The Mount Airy Visitors Center group consisted of Mary Sobol and Ariel Neal. They suggested the visitors center should encourage the use of gap roads in the area, leading through the mountains, as a way to promote more adventure travel and motorcycle enthusiasts. They also suggested a stronger social media presence with one person designated to handle all social media outlets in order to maintain consistency.

The Mayberry Toy Company group members were Jennifer Miller and Layne Davis. They worked with owner Paul Stroup to create a project focused on how to bring more people into the shop and create more awareness about what they offer. Suggestions were made that included improvements to the Facebook page and more promotional events and incentives for loyal customers.

Kyeong Min Lee, Nicola Ross and Lyndsey Weckbacher made up the group working with Mount Airy Parks and Recreation greenways. They suggested more signs along the greenway giving information about the location and natural elements, as well as an updated map showing more details about picnic and restroom facilities. Also suggested was an idea for more greenway-focused events, such as “strollers in the park” for parents and exercise groups who regularly meet at the greenway trails. They also showed support for the connection of the two greenways.

The Main Oak Emporium Team was made up of Charles Perdue and Alex Vavalides. They felt the store had certain aspects in common with the popular Mast General Store chain, which began in Valle Crucis. The group suggested a plan to update the MOE webpage and create customer satisfaction surveys as well as an advanced marketing plan targeting certain groups of customers.

The group that worked with Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies was Stephen Doyle and Leslie Ellison. They said the store may receive publicity through the new “Showville” television show episode that will focus on a talent show the store’s owners participated in. It was suggested that the store utilize owner Angela’s “unique personality” and incorporate it into the website as well as adding shipping prices and professional pictures of the products offered.

Jennie Lowry Caudill, vice president of the Downtown Business Association and owner of Olde Mill Music, worked with two of the students who chose the DBA for their project.

She felt the experience was valuable and was excited about the ideas they provided. “I feel like they are offering a different perspective — they are giving us ideas from the outside looking in. We examined their SWOP analysis in March and I met with them on two occasions and corresponded by email throughout the semester…they made suggestions we could use, like how to improve our website and social media presence by branching out into other avenues besides Facebook.”

Reach Jessica Johnson at jessicajohnson@civitasmedia.com or 719-1933

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