Newsletter to Chamber Members
This has been a very busy year for our Chamber on Pender. We’ve been working hard on implementing some of the programs our members indicated were a priority for them. Here’s a list of just a few of the projects we’ve been working on.
- We updated the brochure with fresh photos and copy. We decreased the press run to 25,000 copies based on the assumption that more people are using their hand-held devices to access this information. We are currently out of brochures so we may need to reconsider that approach. The brochure is our single biggest expense each year so we are looking at our options with respect to using a smaller brochure that can be printed more economically.
- We hired a new administrator, Melody Pender, to assist in our weekly and monthly paperwork. Melody has attended several provincial Chamber meetings and has a good handle on all the perks and programs available to you as a member. We encourage you to call our phone line (250-999-6371) and Melody will bring you up to date on all the discounts you’re entitled to.
- There are new rules regarding application for funding through Tourism BC. In the past this has been a major source of income for us. Beginning in 2016 we must apply for funding as a group with Mayne, Galiano and Saturna. We have been working on a cooperative web page that will link all our separate websites. This new application process will allow us to apply for a greater amount of funding but it will be divided between the four islands. We have been in discussion with Salt Spring Chamber regarding participation in this so the Southern Gulf Islands are grouped as a collective area for tourism. Grant applications take a great deal of time and effort so we are fortunate to have someone with Mamie Tamoana-Hutt’s experience in this area.
- We revamped the membership fees to allow customization of those elements each individual business requires. Our focus was on keeping it affordable for everyone. We want to be the local resource for anyone looking to hire a trade, find a B&B, restaurant directory etc. Our new basic rate is just $75 per year. $13 of that must go to the BC Chamber to support the provincial programs. Basic membership includes a listing on the website, representation on the table at the Farmer’s Market and access to all the BC Chamber programs such as benefits, hotel discounts etc. For an additional $25 you can also display your business cards at the info centre at the Driftwood. Additional components such as a listing on the brochure are extra features you can choose to add. Your membership fee is also a business expense.
- You may have noticed our Island Info Centre at the Farmer’s Market during July and August. This program was an enormous success for our members. We hired a student to man the booth and assist tourists with their activities while on island. I worked the booth on several occasions and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to direct tourists to our member’s place of business for dinner, kayaking and camping. The most common questions were regarding best places to hike and best beaches. This will be an ongoing initiative the Chamber will take on each year. We encourage all our members to bring business cards and brochures to the table so we can help direct tourists and locals to your business.
- Our first Lunch and Learn took place in late June and was a resounding success. Hoot-Suite came to discuss the use of social media in marketing your business. As a result of this session we signed up several new members. Watch for future sessions and be sure to let us know if you have a suggestion for a topic that may be of interest to our membership.
- Our by-laws are in desperate need of some updating. Our President, Mamie, has noted several areas that should be priorities for changing. The AGM which has been held in January or February for the past few years is technically supposed to be held in early March as per our bylaws. We will be going with the March AGM in 2016 and put it to the membership if they want to continue with that timeline or change the bylaws to allow for an earlier AGM. The reasons for holding it earlier in the year were to facilitate renewal of memberships.
- The new website has been well-received and makes navigating through the various segments much simpler. Virtual Wave Media has done a fantastic job of capturing the essence of Pender while allowing users to find the information they’re seeking. Our board made a unanimous decision to include all non-profits on the website including a link to P.O.D.’s site and their land-based whale watching map.
Our objective this year has been to make the Pender Chamber of Commerce more inclusive. We want ALL the businesses on this island to participate. Whether you’re a single proprietorship out there doing home renovations or a bigger company with multiple employees, we all benefit through membership in the Chamber. Many part-time residents look to us for hiring maintenance people for tasks such as gutter-cleaning, lawn mowing or window washing. Visitors want to know they are hiring a reputable fishing guide or kayaking service. Tourists like to pre-book accommodations and our website is the #1 place for links to those listings. If you want to do business on this island, you need to be a member of the Chamber of Commerce. The number of hits we get on our website far exceeds any other form of advertising you could do locally.
We encourage our members to provide feedback. Let us know what we’re doing well and where we can improve. As always, we are happy to have new faces join the board. Perhaps you’d consider stepping forward at the AGM. We currently have 9 on the board and there still aren’t enough hands to do all the work required. The more input we get from our members the better equipped we are to make the right decisions.
Membership in the Chamber of Commerce is one of those intangible things like insurance and advertising. It’s very difficult to see the value sometimes but it’s something we know we must do. There is strength in numbers so we are grateful to all our members for their continued participation.