There’s a recognition amongst destination marketers that not everyone has a smart phone. A handful of folks flat out bemoan them and go to great lengths to keep that flip phone in working order. I’ve talked to them. They don’t want the distraction, prefer the simplicity of “just a phone,” and data is a word reserved for statistics and analysis – not how much you have left on your cell phone service plan. I could probably come up with a good column on why traveling without your smart phone might not be such a bad idea (and perhaps I will), but not this month. Rather, I’m going to give you a few updates on things that Travel Oregon and Seaside are doing to make your smart phone great for traveling.

First on the list is a brand new mobile website called Oregon Weather Compass powered by our friends with Travel Oregon — the state’s official destination marketing agency. The innovative new website tells you not only what’s happening in the location you are standing, but also points you in the direction of the weather you might be seeking. For example, it’s January on the coast and the skies are blue (stop laughing), but you want snow — or possibly even rain (I’ve met these people too). Power up the compass and a raindrop or snowflake will tell you what community that weather event is happening in, along with some cool activities to make that weather even more enjoyable.

The diversity of our state is perfect for such a tool. Think about it. The coast, mountains and desert may all be within a two to three-hour drive to almost anywhere you might be. The weather can be as wide-ranging as the geography and this tool helps you act on our varied climates and weather. You must allow location-based settings to be enabled and need to be within the geographical borders of Oregon or within 300 miles of the border. But with 183 Oregon cities featured, I guarantee you that you’ll learn something new and might even want to go visit there.

In February we launched a new website, and if you read this column you already know that. What you may not know is that because more than 55 percent of the people that use our site access it from a smart phone, we designed the site with that user in mind. And now that we are nearing our one-year anniversary, we’re doing some house cleaning and making sure the experience is as good — if not better — than when we launched. Our Tide Tables are our second most popular page and if you use the site for that, thank you. But don’t miss out on our slick events calendar and things to do page so that when your friends and family come to visit this winter, you can make sure they don’t spend too much time at your house.

The last tool I’m going to tell you about is the Visit Seaside smart phone application. Launched last year with a company called Bluebridge Digital, the app will soon be powered by Visit Apps — a division of travel company Simpleview. I’m excited about this opportunity to work with Simpleview. They know the tourism world quite well and should help unleash some new features with our app. If you haven’t checked that out, do so now. It too will help you get quick access to all things Seaside. And even if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for those visiting. It might make a huge difference in that sales transaction or your ability to make sure that visitor feels satisfied when leaving Seaside.

Have a thought or a question about tourism in Seaside, or maybe an idea for a future column? Drop me an email at jrahl@cityofseaside.us.gov. Jon Rahl is the director of tourism for the Seaside Visitors Bureau and assistant general manager of the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.­­­

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