Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Best Laid Plans

In 1949, after dealing with faulty equipment at the Wright Field Aircraft Lab, a frustrated Captain Edward Murphy exclaimed of the main technician, "If there is any way to do it wrong, he will."  Though it was far from the first time this sentiment had been expressed, he was supposedly the man who gave this phenomenon its namesake: Murphy's Law.  If it can go wrong, it will.

As easy as it is to use Murphy as a pedestal for pessimism, I prefer to embrace it as an opportunity to adapt.  If your plan survives first contact with the enemy, your foes aren't very smart.  Or you're Batman.  I realize the analogy's a bit of a stretch, but the point remains the same -- few things are as simple as we expect. Before coming to work here at the Lake Shelbyville Area CVB / Shelby County Tourism Office (henceforth referred to as "the office"), I assumed everything was pretty straightforward.  Smile.  Hand out brochures and maps.  Answer questions over the phone (including "How far is the dam from the lake?" -- not far, by the way).

It turns out, in fact, that quite a lot goes on behind closed doors.  The office cooperates with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers / Lake Shelbyville and partners with several events throughout the community.  There are, of course, requisite niceties we show to those who come in looking for something to do, but the phrase "tourism office" is deceptively simplistic.  The people I work with have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to a variety of situations, even when they fall outside of what might considered strictly tourism related.  Much of the Visitor Guide is done in house, as is a majority of the work to get them to the public -- gathering, mailing, coordinating with the post office -- just to name one.  Just collecting the guides for distribution ends up being an adventure in itself, especially considering some of the unexpected locales.

Requests for Visitor's Guides have come in from Nigeria, Congo, Yemen, Greece, Morocco, Algeria, India, Guam, Mexico, the UK, Germany, Canada, Jamaica, France, the Philippines, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Czech Republic, Brazil, Italy, and Belgium.  Funding now forces us to file such requests electronically.

And speaking of the ever-evolving world of electronic communication, I have a new appreciation for those who monitor the Twitter feed(s), Facebook page(s), and website(s) of any given organization.  It's one thing to occasionally pop in and tell the world that my cat is chewing on my computer tower.  It's an entirely different monster to try and gather, monitor, and distribute relevant information on a social network.  Facebook as a means of friendly communication is nothing like Facebook as a networking tool.  It's nice in that it allows the office to quickly get information out to those looking for it.  Getting that information can be a pain.  It doesn't matter when I make Facebook posts about my cat, or a book, or the latest movie I've seen.  When it comes to time-sensitive information such as local events, meetings, or activities time becomes a crucial factor.  So to those of you who manage such information, kudos.  My hat goes off to you.  Well, first I would have to get a hat.  But mark my words, if I was wearing one right now, it would be off to you.

Of course, all this talk of complications and plans has a specific point.  We here at the office are working towards a free online newsletter for all who are interested in local events, attractions, and activities.  It's not quite ready yet, but you should keep an eye on the website for a link to our subscription.

Be sure to visit the official Lake Shelbyville Website @
Are you on Facebook?  Like us @ Lake Shelbyville Area CVB
Don't miss a moment: Follow our Twitter feed in the right-hand column!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Welcome Inside

Every good tourism district has a website, but how many of those offer an inside view of the tourism department itself?  So much goes on between the tourism office and the various local business and attractions, and it's crucial that the community not be left out.  Fliers, press releases, and brochures are all well and good, but we're here to connect with the most important people in the tourism community -- you.  My name is Stephen Jefferies, and as a summer intern here at the Shelby County Office of Tourism / Lake Shelbyville Area CVB, I'm here to do exactly that.

Well, that and drink all of their coffee.

To give you a quick glimpse of the lens you'll be looking through, allow me a few words about myself.  I've lived in Shelbyville since March of 2002 and recently entered the Master's program at Eastern Illinois University.  I've enjoyed writing even further back than I can remember.  According to my parents, I wrote my first story when I was four.  It was three pages of tape-bound brown construction paper titled with brightly colored, proportionality skewed crayon letters.  It was entitled Staples (though I’m sure it wasn’t spelled correctly).  Each page bore a single message scribbled at the top, complete with anatomically mutated stick figures and oversized etchings of the namesake office supply:

Page 1: “Staples are sharp.”   Page 2: "Staples can hurt.”   Page 3: “Staples can kill.”

In retrospect, I’m surprised my parents never took me in for psychiatric evaluation, but nonetheless, this creation marked the beginning of something that I’ve not yet grown out of -- a love of writing.  My other hobbies range all over the spectrum, from racquetball and skiing to computers and tabletop games.  I love cats, despise mushrooms, and find the inconsistencies and ambiguities in our language hilarious.  Just look at the comma in "let's eat, grandma."  It makes a big difference.

As the summer continues so will this blog, and I won't be the only one manning it.  Check back each week to see what's happening not just in the Shelby County Tourism office, but all around the lake itself.

Be sure to visit the official Lake Shelbyville Website @
Are you on Facebook?  Like us @ Lake Shelbyville Area CVB
Don't miss a moment: Follow our Twitter feed in the right-hand column!