New interactive website showcases South Shore destinations

2012-12-05T13:40:00Z 2012-12-07T17:45:43Z New interactive website showcases South Shore destinationsLu Ann Franklin Times Correspondent
December 05, 2012 1:40 pm  • 

HAMMOND | Historic and new photos of Northwest Indiana destinations, a salute to the South Shore Poster Series, interactive “widgets” and cutting edge technology – it all blends to showcase Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties on the new South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority website unveiled Wednesday 

The SSCVA staff planned and developed the new site’s content over the last eight to nine months, said Luke Weinman IV, director of information and technology during a news conference at the Indiana Welcome Center.

“Usually this takes a year,” Weinman said.

However, SSCVA President and CEO Speros Batistatos said he “cracked the whip” to get the new destination website launched during the “A Christmas Story Comes Home” special event at the Indiana Welcome Center.

“This was labor intense, but my staff makes it look easy,” Batistatos said. “This is bleeding-edge technology. This website is better than Indianapolis’ site and we’ll give Chicago a run for their money.”

Launched on Tuesday, the web site,, was built and is maintained by simpleview of Tucson, Ariz., a company that provides interactive marketing for more than 220 destination marketing organizations around the world including Las Vegas, Orlando and Chicago.

“We were simpleview’s seventh client eight years ago,” said Batistatos. “Unlike bigger destinations that can just throw money (at their marketing campaigns), we have to wring out every dollar and opportunity.”

Speaking at the news conference by phone, Greg Evans, simpleview Vice President of Account Services, said the size of the destination marketing organization doesn’t matter if the marketing platform puts that organization in front of potential visitors around the world.

The website showcases The Region, a term Batistatos said the SSCVA “consciously chose to embrace.”

“We are proud to live here and proud of what we have here,” he said.

Features of the new interactive website include:

  • Photos, graphics and written information about visitor destinations including the area’s casinos, museums, shopping, bike trails and family fun spots such as Fair Oaks Farm and Albanese Confectionary Group.
  • Social media connections on the site rather than links that take visitors away from the site.
  • Information about hotels, including the ability to book stays.
  • Special offers from partners, such as discounts.
  • “Interactive widgets” that take visitors to information that is “uniquely South Shore” such as the South Shore Air Show
  • Maps, ads and information about cities and towns
  • Details about special seasonal events
  • Connections to the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors that will help connect potential residents to housing opportunities

Another marketing tool Batistatos said he insisted needed to be finished by Wednesday is the new digital sign outside the Indiana Welcome Center that displays information about South Shore events.

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