When Germantown residents noticed their neighborhood’s historical landmarks incorrectly listed as being in Mt. Airy on city-endorsed VisitPhilly.com tourism website in June, they responded with ire in the form of an online petition.
They are angry no more.
Last month, VisitPhilly launched a webpage highlighting Germantown’s strong historical background.
“One of the oldest settlements in Philadelphia, Germantown has a relaxed, backyard feel that complements its many historic attractions,” reads the VisitPhilly introduction. “Unique eateries and stores thrive right next door to 300-year-old buildings and significant American Revolution sites that make up Germantown Avenue, the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare that connects Germantown to Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill.”
Beyond providing online recognition, the agency also plans to group the neighborhood with Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill in plans for a Germantown Avenue walking tour, the details of which will be released in coming months.
The road to recognition
Later that week, Meryl Levitz, president and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corp., which oversees VisitPhilly.com, told NewsWorks that the oversight was unintentional.
A conference call with neighborhood leaders led to the formulation of a plan to correct the mistakes and bolster Germantown’s presence on the tourism website.
Working with some of the neighborhood’s historical societies, VisitPhilly updated the locations and began developing a new Germantown page.
Building an online presence
VisitPhilly officials initially said modifying the “neighborhoods” section was problematic since it was originally paid for by a former William Penn Foundation grant.
James Zale, vice president of internet strategy at GPTMC, found an end-around, though.
“We worked to get it in our timeline,” Zale said. “We came up with the most important things for our audience.”
Dan Wisnieski, digital content manager at VisitPhilly, said he toured the neighborhood’s attractions in July to collect information, with the help of Historic Germantown members.
Trapeta Mayson, the new executive director of Historic Germantown, welcomed the project.
“We definitely want to be able to leverage our resources,” she said of a historical society with 16 sites under its umbrella.
Since Mayson just started on the job last month, a meeting between Historic Germantown and VisitPhilly was postponed until Nov. 3. There, Mayson said she will discuss expanding the types of attractions featured on the tourism website.
Julie Stapleton Carroll told NewsWorks this week that her original goals for starting the petition were satisfied.
VisitPhilly’s Germantown page now lists events, shopping venues, restaurants, hotels, parks and galleries, with a heavy focus on historical sites there.
Since its soft launch in August, the Germantown section of the site has recieved over 4,000 pageviews according to Zale.
“It was really encouraging to me,” Carroll said. “We’ve been so apologetic here in Germantown. … It’s time to not be that way.”
For her part, Mayson said she hopes to see more restaurants featured, while Zale wants to add more major events in the future.
Zale cited a good working relationship with Germantown’s groups and residents that will help moving forward.
“The content from neighborhood organizations,” he said, “helps create strong content for us.”