This weekend I literally went to the dogs as opposed to metaphorically which probably happened over a decade ago if truth be told. My father-in-law and his girlfriend (why does that always sound peculiar when applied to anyone over the age of 40? Still, I refuse to use the term ‘partner’) came down for the weekend and we decided to take in the delights of Wheeling Island.
Now I’d hardly define myself, or anybody else in our little group as hardened gamblers, but a little flutter once in a blue moon never hurt anyone. Now I’ve never been greyhound racing prior to Saturday – only horses – and my good wife had never been to either. While I enjoy a good day at the races I simply don’t know enough to start plotting form graphs or to start conversations with old pros about the going and ‘double-handfuls’.
I go off ‘signs’, or gut reactions – I only bet on things that have some form of meaning. I know it’s completely unscientific, but it’s always worked. And I mean ALWAYS.
So, we leafed through the program, chose our signs and set about betting. The third race was going to be our clincher as one dog had something to do with my nephew and there were a couple of others that had themselves a hidden meaning. I sent Steph up seeming she’d put the previous bet on that had won to place a box trifecta (or whatever they’re called) and in they all romped.
The day was paid for.
We even managed to stretch it out to the evening’s entertainment at the Vaudeville. Although, $15 a ticket to watch a schoolteacher living his Eric Clapton fantasies and a dwarf Elvis impersonator singing Del Shannon songs could be thought of as a little steep. But, it was ‘entertaining’.
Especially when Elvis first entered the building and somebody had left the microphone stand at a normal height. Watching Tatoo in a jumpsuit up on his tiptoes almost upstaged our fantasy (Wheeling) Island flutter earlier in the day.
And before you start asking whether I could do any better, I can and I have. Having played in front of a couple of hundred people before now in the world’s premier punk karaoke / Elvis tribute combo, I feel more than qualified to pass comment. Or, perhaps I should say the world’s only punk karaoke / Elvis tribute combo.
But, one has to applaud the theater being open for anything. The building itself is fantastic. And if the owner just so happens to be Elvis, then who are we to quibble if that’s what he wants to do with his building. I probably applaud the theater even more!
Now even though these two things might not be the first thing I’d want to do every weekend, I still had a whale of a time at both and I’d gladly go again.
Now the thing is, how would anybody from outside of Wheeling know about these two bits of entertainment? Let’s pretend you’re a tourist and you’re planning a trip to these parts, or you just so happen to be passing through. I presume you might do a search online for hotels and then you’d find out at the hotel itself what was on. But, if the decision to visit Wheeling depends on what’s going on prior to you arriving then what do you do?
You search online, that’s what.
Finding stuff to do in Wheeling actually isn’t that difficult to search for. But, trying to find out what’s going on live is. Wheeling has much more going on than you’d give it credit for, and Stephanie’s tour guide patter as she drives around is becoming quite polished. There’s no way you’d struggle having some form of interesting weekend in Wheeling. There are good places to eat, drink, visit and there’s great scenery and even greater people.
However, I just wish the place would show off a bit more online. I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t think it was doing itself a disservice by not doing so. I don’t think there’s a town alive that doesn’t understand the unique power of its name as the url. But, I see plenty of confusion in the sites themselves. I think you can tell a lot about a place by the state of its ‘main’ Web site. Everybody jumped on board a while ago, but plenty seem confused by what their site is there to do.
For a town or city’s image, a bad Web site is like a town center full of garbage. I’m not saying you need to spend billions on flash enhancements or other fancy tricks, but it needs to be clean and cohesive as well as an information hub for visitors and natives alike.
In fact, done properly, your town’s image can be greatly enhanced by a great Web site. And it’s extremely cost effective to boot.
For example, you could have a Flickr gallery where vistors could upload their vacation snaps, tag them accordingly, and Wheeling, in all its visual splendor, can be seen by all and sundry in high resolution loveliness.
And the cost? Free, or at most $29.95 for a year-long premium account. With the premium account you can even set up multiple galleries displaying things like you winning at the dogs, or golfing, or getting tipsy. You photo it, name it and tag it, you can show it.
And you can integrate it fully into your site or blog and even geo-tag the photos in such a way that the pictures can appear on a googlemap of either specific locations in Wheeling or where the tourists who took them originate from. If they just so happen to have been taken from a place that has a Web site then that can be displayed as part of the information. And that doesn’t cost extra either.
For me, these things are so simple, basic, cheap and tremendously usable. And the user is what it’s all about. But, they also help you to be found more easily in search engines, i.e., image searches.
Hardly a gut reaction gamble, is it?