Bob Risman, owner of Golden Sands Resort in Diamond Point, has created www.LakeGeorgeHotels.com. It’s, perhaps, the most comprehensive internet site serving the region with information, links and ads for lodging, dining, attractions, activities, shopping, events and more.
Bob Risman was looking for a better way to promote his business when he came to a realization.
“I realized I had lost control of my marketing,” the owner of Golden Sands Resort in Diamond Point said. “I was relying on websites for my marketing and had no control over the content, ad position or cost.
“As everything went more and more to digital, I was confused,” he said. “I didn’t know where to best use my money for advertising.”
Risman decided to learn more. He had no background in computers, website design or advertising, but the businessman with an art background purchased a beginner web program and started to investigate the mysteries of the internet.
That was three years ago. Today he owns www.LakeGeorgeHotels.com. It’s, perhaps, the most comprehensive internet site serving the region with information, links and ads for lodging, dining, attractions, activities, shopping, events and more.
The site attracts “hundreds” of visits a day, Risman said, more in the summer tourism months.
“There were very limited travel and tourism websites in Lake George,” Risman said. “I thought there was room for a website like this.”
www.LakeGeorgeHotels.com now has 103 pages of information and thousands of elements. It is constantly being updated and expanded. Risman recently added sections on Ticonderoga and Hague. It also includes sections on Warrensburg, Bolton and Saratoga.
“I’m constantly looking for things that are interesting and relevant,” he said. “When I take a drive to Ticonderoga and see something, I make a note that I want to add it to the site. I’m always adding things.”
He also welcomes input from others. People who would like to see a business, attraction or anything else added to the site can contact Risman at Info@LakeGeorgeHotels.com or 668-2203.
The key is a successful website is its domain name, Risman said.
“A domain name should be simple, relevant and credible,” he said. “The internet is like a highway. To get from Point A to Point B you need an automobile. On the internet the automobile is your domain name.
“I researched the internet and found most of the web searches related to Lake George hotels, so I purchased the domain name www.LakeGeorgeHotels.com,” he said. “The site is much more than just a listing of hotels, but that domain name attracts people who then can learn all about the region.”
Risman is always thinking about internet opportunities and has purchased 125 domain names, including www.WorldsLargestGarageSale.com and www.LakeGeorgeFishing.com
“In the past 30 days I’ve built several websites,” he said. “I build them and see if there is interest. If not, I take them down.”
The website business is not expensive, Risman said.
“It costs $8-12 to purchase a domain name,” he said. “For $100-$150 you can build a site. For well under $200 you can have your own website.”
Work doesn’t end with the creation of a website, though. Risman said sites must have material that is constantly updated and relevant. Webmasters need to also study traffic to their sites and make them attractive to search engines such as Google.
“I’m constantly working on the website,” he said. “If I have five minutes here or there, I update the site. I work on it while I watch the news.”
Risman stressed his website efforts are a sideline. His primary business of operating Golden Sands Resort, a 26-unit lodge he has owned the past 26 years.
Many businesses rely on chamber of commerce and county tourism websites to promote their efforts. Risman is critical of those sites, which he believes are often unfriendly for users and often have out-dated material.
There are also professional tourism websites, he said, but those can be costly.
“An effective ad in our region can cost $10-20,000,” Risman said. “An entry level ad can be $3-4,000. I don’t have that kind of money. I knew there had to be a better way.”
While the internet is a valuable tool for area businesses, Risman admits it doesn’t solve every problem.
“Is it the be-all, end-all?” he asked. “No. It’s a piece of the puzzle. It can be a very effective tool, though.”
Some businesses worry about competing websites, Risman said, but they shouldn’t. He would like to see more local sites sharing links and other information, sending traffic to other Lake George region sites.
“It’s something anyone can do,” Risman said of website construction. “Grassroots websites can be very successful. They put marketing back in the hands of business owners and can be a boost for the entire region.
“I believe all ships rise in a rising sea,” he said. “Why shouldn’t we (business owners) support each other?”