As we turn the calendar to a new year it is always important to reflect on where we have been. This past year, the chamber has seen a lot of changes and divulged in planning for the future. Among the changes we have seen is an entirely new staff, a revamped Destination Guide, a redeveloped website, and the launch of the Best of Manhattan Awards to name a few. It is important to acknowledge that many of these advances would not have been possible without the support of an amazing volunteer base comprised of everyone from our newest member to the longest tenured board member.
While it is always sad to say good bye to members of the team who have been with the chamber through thick and thin it is with tremendous gratitude we acknowledge the accomplishments of Terry Comber and Kathe Reiken. For those who have not had the chance to meet our new staff they come to us from all over the spectrum. Back in February, we had our new Business Development Director, Lori Tostado join us from Merlin Entertainment. With a tremendous background in destination marketing and sales she has breathed a new life into our membership and brought with her a commitment to providing only the best to the businesses of Manhattan Beach. In August, Brittany Keohi joined us in the role of Director of Communications and Events. Most recently from Walk With Sally, Brittany has revitalized our social media presence, built on the success of our new website, and brought a fresh approach to our networking events. In September, Krystal Brackeen joined us as Office Coordinator coming from the Los Angeles Fire, Lifeguard Division. While only with us part time, Krystal has supported our staff and members with the information and resources they need.
In March, the new Manhattan Beach Destination Guide hit newsstands and hotel rooms alike. Much like its predecessor, the business directory, the Destination Guide highlights the businesses that make Manhattan Beach the city we all know and love. In addition the Destination Guide serves as a resource for people interested in learning more about the area. The change in its look and feel afforded us a larger distribution base, getting into LAX, Los Angeles Visitor Centers, and hotel rooms. Each additional distribution channel allows Manhattan Beach to better highlight the offerings here and generate additional sales tax.
The re-launch of www.ManhattanBeachChamber.com in May marked a very important day as the new chamber announced, we are here to build business in Manhattan Beach. Some of the new features available on the website are resources for starting a new business, dedicated web portals for every chamber business, a local community calendar, a Manhattan Beach news section, and Health Care Reform resource guide. In conjunction with the publically visible website, major changes have also taken place behind the scenes allowing for a more streamlined approach. At the time we launched the website, members also gained the ability to manage their own online profile, insert media files to their portal, and oversee every aspect of their membership from their phone or computer. If that were not enough, since May the page views on the website have also grown by 600%.
This past July, the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce held the first annual Best of Manhattan Awards at the Manhattan Beach Country Club. The sold out crowd joined us in honoring Bob Meistrell with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award for his involvement and dedication to the South Bay. The evening was dedicated to celebrating the success the business community has had here, in Manhattan Beach, with honorees such as The Beach Reporter, Simms Restaurant Group, the Zislis Group, and the Hometown Fair to name a few. Taking time to celebrate successes also allows each of the business leaders the opportunity to learn from one another.
With this small sampling of happenings at the Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce in 2013, you can see it was a busy year. The best part is that we don’t intend to slow down and with that, 2014 promises to be even more exciting. Some of the offerings to come are the South Bay Business Leaders Summit in April, Bite at the Beach in May, a new video reel highlighting Manhattan Beach in June, and later in the year the launch of a kiosk system. The Manhattan Beach Chamber of Commerce is proud to be able to support such a strong business community, while helping to deliver the first rate quality of life we all have come to expect.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!