Recently the question of chamber benefits and their connection to business license fees was raised.
At present, business license fees are $175 in Summerland for most businesses. For comparison purposes the community of Peachland currently charges $150 for a business license and in Penticton a business license is $165. There is very little difference in business license costs between Summerland, a community half our size and one that’s three times our size. Those same communities charge $160 and $231 respectively for sole proprietor memberships in their Chambers of Commerce. In some cases, additional fees apply for tourism specific businesses.
Under our five-year agreement with the District of Summerland (renewed for 2015 to 2019) the Chamber provides a free membership to every business licensed with the District. This is a tremendously inclusive model for business services and it allows us to offer education, advocacy and many promotional services to our entire business community, regardless of the size of the business or their budget. And as you can see from the above comparisons, it is a free service.
The chamber’s contract with the District of Summerland makes up approximately two-thirds of our budget and this buys services in two key community areas. These are destination management and visitor services (tourism) as well as a number of economic development services that are generally referred to as business retention and expansion.
The remaining one-third of our budget comes from different sources.
One of our most recent services to our members was the much needed upgrading of the chamber website.
We know from media research and our own search habits as individuals, that people are drawn to photos and videos. In fact, the Guardian recently reported that by 2017, video will account for 69 per cent of all consumer internet traffic.
And in our own work here at the chamber, the Visitor Guide is a good example of our move to a greater use of images. Where the guide used to be very text heavy with small images, in the last three years we have made a conscious move to write very little and fill the guide with pictures.
Unfortunately, our old website simply couldn’t support the use of videos and images for multiple members let alone all 700 members. Happily, the new system is very robust.
A free listing continues to be available on our Chamber website for every business member. This includes the name and address of the business, a brief description of the business, the name of the contact person, a link to a Google map of the business location and a link to the business website.
And now, for a fee of $7.10 a month plus GST our business members have a new opportunity to market their business through an enhanced listing. They can add their logos, photos of their business and/or products and video to their much longer description (up to 2000 characters) and key words for search engine optimization. This enhanced listing also moves a business to the top of their directory category.
Considering that our website gets more than 400 visits/day, this is great news. We hope our business community will enjoy the new options for their listings.
We always appreciate your feedback. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or our chamber president, Kelly Marshall, at email@example.com.
Christine Petkau is the executive director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce.