By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor
BIG SKY – The long awaited Big Sky Community Events Calendar, which should be up by late summer, will be run by the Jackson, Wyo.-based AllTrips and will cost the Big Sky community nothing.
Big Sky Chamber of Commerce project and membership director Robin Brower-McBride worked extensively with AllTrips on the calendar, which was originally slated for early to mid summer. When the company ran into roadblocks this spring, it decided to make the calendar totally free, with the stipulation that it wouldn’t be here in time for the summer season.
This was due to “our workload and our desire to do this right, rather than rush through it,” AllTrips development manager BJ Hansen wrote in a May 23 email to Brower-McBride.
This spring the company decided to add new services, “to be sure that we have everything exactly as we want it for not just Big Sky, but for all of our network destinations,” Hansen wrote in the email. AllTrips already had a travel guide listing for Big Sky and has created similar community calendars for other resort and tourism-based areas like Jackson, Aspen, the Black Hills and Yosemite.
AllTrips then quickly introduced the event site bigskyinfo.org, modeled on its successful tetoninfo.org site, but held off on the more comprehensive community calendar as it rebuilt its events application to integrate it into its full system.
That upgrade was “necessary for our long term success,” Hansen said, and will allow the company to “deliver a more robust, stable and elegant solution this year, while allowing us to quickly introduce new features in the future.”
AllTrips is now “marrying” the prototypes and the database structure, Hansen said. The “thinking and planning” is essentially completed, as is most of the front end coding. And although the calendar is still at least a few weeks out, this next step is where the momentum usually gets going, he added.
Ultimately, Brower-McBride said, the goal is to have an easy to use format that allows travelers to sort events by date and type, creating a completely personalized calendar—family friendly, music, handicapped accessible or museums, for example. Users could print the resulting calendar or send it to a mobile phone or other device.
“It’s not about [the Chamber]. It’s an effort offer a service to the community and the guests,” she said.
If the service pans out as planned, it may be worth the wait. One notable benefit includes allowing each business that adds an event to link directly right back to its own calendar or website.
Plus, Brower-McBride said, many users may already be familiar with the format from other AllTrips locations. “If it’s comfortable to them, they’ll use it.”
The service is free to select communities because they’re places AllTrips has deemed worthy for its publications. It will not be a revenue generator, Brower-McBride said, and there will be no advertising.
The shared community calendar has been on the to-do list for a long time, said Chamber representative and Town Center project manager Ryan Hamilton. He credited the Arts Council of Big Sky for leading the effort to get the community moving in the right direction and Brower-McBride for getting the project to the finish line.
“The benefits of this are many and include convenience for both residents and visitors, event data entry efficiencies gained, and enhanced trip planning for tourists,” Hamilton said. “This project will hopefully enhance tourism and economic development.”
The Chamber is also planning to create a mobile app for the calendar.