Social media called key to get business to return

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CAPE MAY — Local business owners were told that if they want customers back in their stores and visitors checking into their hotels, the answer is social media.

At a Restore the Shore convention held at Cape May Convention Hall Dec. 3, small business advocates and tourism professionals spoke about the importance of reaching out to customers and letting them know they are open.

Sandy may have spared the area massive physical destruction, but the storm can still do damage to the island’s tourism industry, according to Liz MacKay, the state’s Director of Small Business Advocacy.

“The farther you get from area, the more people paint the Jersey shore with one big brush,” said Cape May County Tourism Director Diane Weiland.

Weiland used the example that many people across the country falsely believed that the Atlantic City boardwalk was washed away in the storm because the news showed pictures of the damaged boardwalk by the Absecon Inlet.

They both stressed the importance of social media as a way to quickly reach a broad audience.

“Social media casts a wide net,” MacKay said. “Use it to contact your customers and give them an update.”

The conference also focused on preparing businesses for a disaster.

“What's on your disaster preparedness check list? Do you even have one?” Carol Cohen, Executive Director of the Southern Shore Chapter of The American Red Cross, asked the attendees.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials suggested frequently backing up records, keeping a detailed inventory and install a generator for emergency power.

If you are in a flood-prone area, FEMA officials suggested building with flood resistant materials, raising electrical systems off the ground, anchoring fuel tanks and installing sewer backflow valves.
They also went over how to get flood insurance for a business.

“Up to 40 percent of businesses affected by a natural or human-caused disaster never reopen. Don't let this happen to you.  Be ready,” MacKay said.

The free conference was sponsored by Comcast Spotlight and the Cape May Chamber of Commerce.


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