One thousand visitors in 92 days for visitor center

Scrolling with event and festival information directly in front of the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside’s Town Hall, the LED sign alerts visitors and locals alike to what is happening on the Mountain. The Visitor Information Center is currently open seven days a week but at the end of the month will close on Sundays.

PINETOP-LAKESIDE – The Pinetop-Lakeside Visitor Information Center formally opened May 31. With 92 tracking days under their belt, Community Services Manager Tony Alba reported to the council that the numbers have been growing except for Sundays. With only an average of three people coming in on Sunday, Alba said they have obtained permission from the Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) to close Sundays beginning Oct. 1 through Memorial Day 2020.

Annie DeRosier of the visitor’s center provided the council a snapshot of how the center has performed June through August.

“We have had 1,001 visitors,” stated DeRosier. “We have increased every month, July and August, averaging 12 per day and as many as 30 on our biggest day.”

DeRosier said the level of engagement by the people coming in has been a surprise to all of the staff. They have found the length of conversation to be about 20 to 25 minutes, reflecting real engagement from the visitors.

“It is not a stop and go,” said DeRosier. “People talk about the town which allows an in depth conversation with them.”

She said the most common questions focus on hiking, fishing and RV camping. The staff inquires as to whether the visitor is a first timer or a repeat visitor.

Tracking thus far has revealed that most people who come in are from Arizona and that Monday and Tuesday are the busiest days which, DeRosier says, is contrary to AOT information.

“As we track, we can put together pamphlets so they can take something tangible with them,” explained DeRosier, who hopes the information will be valuable for marketing for the local businesses.

DeRosier said they also have retail – great coffee mugs and more products to introduce closer to the holiday season.

The town web page includes a visitor tab on the far right at the top which links to visitor information (www.pinetoplakesideaz.gov)

“All the fliers are on the home page,” describes DeRosier. “They click through to the web or Facebook. There is a button to click on, to sign up for tourism email.”

DeRosier said that people signed up for the Balloon Festival and are still signing up for that. She also said that the calendar filters by events and festivals.

“We are building a media library for marketing,” continued DeRosier.

She is appreciative of the contribution that local photographers have made which include fall photos and the balloon festival.

Adding to the information they are tracking from the visitor center will be information gleaned in a two day workshop held Monday, Sept. 9, and again Tuesday, Sept. 10, which DeRosier is hosting for members of the Advertising and Promotions Committee and community members. Though it is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., DeRosier said it will be a creative and casual setting where people can come and go.

DeRosier explained that the impetus for the workshop is to discuss the essence of the brand for the town as well as identifying the feeling they are portraying about the town.

The Pinetop-Lakeside Visitor Center is located in the Pinetop-Lakeside Town Hall at 325 W. White Mountain Blvd. in Lakeside. It is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon, Memorial Day through the end of September.

Reach the reporter at bbruce@wmicentral.com

Barbara Bruce is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering arts and entertainment on the Mountain and the Pinetop-Lakeside town government.

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